In a tournament where the traditional gods of football have been overthrown or forced to abdicate, Brazil had the merit of simply doing their part last night in Moscow, beating Serbia 2-0 with goals by Paulinho and Thiago Silva. Coach Tite’s Selecao controlled an unexpectedly remissive Serbian side, striking at the right moment, and showing glimpses of their talent – something never lacking on the Brazilian part.
Their next opponent, this coming Monday in Samara, will be those Mexico that impressed in their first two games, but were brutally downsized today by Sweden. Odds look in favor of the Selecao, even if they will miss their starting right back – Danilo, whose World Cup is over – and perhaps even the left one, as Marcelo had to leave the pitch after just 10 minutes due to an injury.
Philippe Coutinho confirmed to be a quality playmaker, putting once again his signature on Brazil’s victory. He didn’t score in this occasion, but the assist he served to Paulinho for his first goal was a true gem. Neymar didn’t make it to the scorecard either, yet he run, fought, and forced the opponent goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic to do some overtime to deny him the joy of the goal. Captain Thiago Silva remembered the football-dom that he is more than a leader and more than a captain, with a powerful header to set the score to 2-0.
Goalkeeper Alisson Becker still needs to be seriously tested in this World Cup, but for him speaks the wonderful season he had with Roma in Serie A. All things considered, Brazil are solid, and starting to become scary. They are not an invincible armada, but in a tournament with no dominating side, being simply Brazil could be enough to make it to the end of it.
Serbia, on the other hand, left after themselves the image of a beautiful but incomplete painting, as they steadily declined after a promising start with Costa Rica. Their World Cup basically ended with the shocking late goal by Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri, which wounded their football and national pride. Coach Mladen Krstajic’s traditionally indomitable selection didn’t bite in the occasion, producing only a few feeble attempts to shake the Brazilian certainties when the score was already 0-1.
The Russian rendezvous was supposed to be a perfect stage for Sergej Milinkovic Savic’s international breakthrough, yet the Lazio young talent followed the same pattern as his team: Sparkling in the first game, he faded during the following two. The 23-year-old still needs to grow, that’s what the World Cup ruled. Better than him did Aleksandar Mitrovic, the last one to raise the with flag. Just one year older, he comes from a season played in the English Football League Championship with Fulham. Time for a new deal for him?
The match at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow was all in the two episodes by which Brazil moved the score. In the 36th minute, Coutinho invented a sublime lob cross for Paulinho, which dashed past a surprised Serbian defense to wrap his first World Cup goal. Coutinho and Paulinho both play for Barcelona, that’s what you call teamwork.
Thiago Silva used his head to shut down the residual – if any – hopes of coach Krstajic’s side, converting a corner kick by Neymar in the 68th minute. O Ney tried to make it three, but Stojkovic blocked him in two separate occasions, and received the compliments by the Paris Saint Germain star at full time.
From the mediocrity with Switzerland, to a convincing win achieved using the right amount of energy, passing through Neymar’s tears of stress after the tough game with Costa Rica. Brazil is definitely ramping up. From Serbia, on the other hand, we were expecting a little more.
June 27, 2018 – World Cup Group Stage Pool E
SCORERS: 36′ Paulinho, 68′ Thiago Silva
|SERBIA (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic; Rukavina, Milenkovic, Veljkovic, Kolarov; Milinkovic-Savic, Matic; Tadic, Ljajic (75’ Zivkovic), Kostic (82′ Radonjic); Mitrovic (90′ Jovic) (Rajkovic, Dmitrovic, Tosic, Milivojevic, Spajic, Ivanovic, Prijovic, Rodic, Grujic) Coach: Krstajic
|BRAZIL (4-3-3): Alisson; Fagner, Thiago Silva, Miranda, Marcelo (10’ Filipe Luis); Paulinho (66’ Fernandinho), Casemiro, Coutinho (79’ Renato Augusto); Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar (Cassio, Ederson, Pedro Geromel, Renato Augusto, Marquinhos, Fred, Firmino, Taison) Coach: Tite|
REFEREE: Faghani (Iran)
NOTES: Attendance: 44190; Yellow Cards: Ljajic, Matic, Mitrovic; Extra Time: 1st half 2′, 2nd Half 3′