Brazil defeated Serbia in the final match of the first round of the group stage of the World Cup in Qatar. If before the break, Tite’s wards looked closely at the opponent, simultaneously overcoming the tactics of a small foul, then in the second half they crushed him and inflicted 18 shots on Vanya Milinkovic-Savic’s goal. However, only Richarlison could upset the goalkeeper. First, the striker finished off the ball into an empty net after hitting Vinicius, and 11 minutes later he scored a spectacular volley through himself. In the other Group G match, Switzerland defeated Cameroon thanks to a goal from Bril Embolo.
It was very logical that the first round of the group stage of the World Cup crowned the match with one of the main favorites of the tournament. Brazil came to Qatar in the strongest line-up and could boast of a real scattering of stars in all lines. It is not surprising that they were expected to have a powerful start and not only a confident victory, but also a sparkling, bright game. Even despite the fact that they were opposed by far from a whipping boy.
Serbia triumphantly completed the qualifying tournament and bypassed Portugal itself, and also had more than a serious selection of performers. Take at least Sergei Milinkovic-Savic from Lazio and Dusan Vlahovic with Filip Kostic from Juventus. True, none of the representatives of the “old lady” entered the field from the first minutes. The role of the center forward in the 3-5-1-1 scheme went to the best scorer in the history of the national team, Alexander Mitrovic, and the left flank was farmed out to the lowest-rated player of the White Eagles – Filip Mladenovic (€ 1.5 million). And this could not but raise questions.
In turn, the coach of the Brazilians Tite also surprised a little. He settled on a 4-2-3-1 formation, but on the tip he released not Neymar or Gabriel Jesus, but the classic center forward Richarlison. The Paris Saint-Germain striker took over the role of the No. 10, with Vinicius Junior and Rafinha on the flanks. At the same time, attacking midfielder Lucas Paqueta made up a couple with Casemiro in the center of the field, which gave an idea of the Pentacampeons’ plan for the match. The South Americans were clearly not going to be cautious, but were determined to demonstrate their power and claim to the title.
But the demonstration of strength for a long time was not the best way. During the first half, the Selesao did not create a single 100% chance, and Neymar’s dry sheet became the most dangerous. Instead of filing from a corner, the forward struck on goal, but Vanya Milinkovic-Savic averted the threat. It is noteworthy that this attempt was not included in the official statistics, so the ratio in the number of strikes was only 4:1. Even Argentina and Germany, which suffered sensational defeats, did noticeably more during the starting period.
Brazil hasn’t done much. Yes, the technical South Americans fascinated with their dribbling, and Neymar managed to get away from three or four guardians and literally force them to tear off his T-shirt. But if everything was in order with efficiency, then there was no smell of efficiency. The wards of Tita failed not only to crack the enemy’s defense, but even to establish full control over the ball. The Serbs defended themselves with almost the entire team and did not leave room for maneuver, even if they themselves did not think about the attack. But it is unlikely that they were faced with the task of defeating the five-time world champions at all costs.
Perhaps Brazil needed this first half to get a little angry. In the second, the nominal owners upped the pace and gradually began to break through the defense of the Serbs more and more often. Under such an onslaught, even the goalkeeper became nervous, almost organizing a goal into his own net. His sloppy pass to Nemanja Gudelya led to an interception, but Rafinha loaded not into a half-empty target, but directly into Milinkovic-Savic.
In total, in 16 minutes, the pentacampeons delivered twice as many shots as in the first 45. Alex Sandro’s magnificent “shot” from 25 meters could well have been effective, but the first goal came out much more prosaic. Neymar burst into the penalty area, Vinicius struck from the bottom, and Richarlison ambushed the rebound and played on the rebound.
From that moment on, only one team remained on the field. Brazil felt the taste of blood and in the remaining time could bring the score to a large one. Vinicius had excellent chances, and Casemiro tested the frame for strength. But only one player was destined to score that evening. And for the second time, Richarlison did it incredibly beautifully. Having received a pass from the flank, he first worked out the ball for himself, and then, in an acrobatic etude, smashed it into the net.
Only after that did Tite let the substitutes prove themselves. Within 12 minutes, the mentor spent all five substitutions, however, one of them was forced. Neymar again felt discomfort and was forced to leave the field, and Anthony came out instead. And although the Manchester United winger managed to be remembered for a couple of spectacular tricks, he failed to disturb the opponent’s goalkeeper. However, like the entire Serbian team put together.
Successful start in Switzerland
In turn, the wards of Murat Yakin also scored three points. The meeting between Switzerland and Cameroon was not the brightest, but everything was decided by the only goal of Bril Embolo. The Monaco striker responded to Sherdan Shaqiri’s cross from the flank, took advantage of the sluggishness of the defense and upset Andre Onana. At the same time, a native of Yaoundé did not celebrate a goal scored into the gates of his native country.
As for Cameroon, the performance of the team left an ambiguous impression. On the one hand, the African football players delivered one more shot on the opponent’s goal (8:7), on the other hand, at the end they demonstrated an unusual lack of will and, it seems, were not even going to fight for three points. After the 67th minute, they never tried to disturb Jan Sommer, did not manage to arrange a semblance of bulk, calmly allowing the Swiss to keep the winning score. Napoli midfielder Andre Zambo Anguissa played unusually poorly, Eric Choupo-Moting was not so good without powerful support in the person of Bayern midfielders, and Dynamo midfielder Nicolas Ngamalyo, who left the bench, only touched the ball five times. Gael Ondua also made his debut at the World Cup, but he is remembered only for boots with the Russian tricolor.