It’s a World Cup, but it looks like a European Championship by now. Belgium eliminated the last representative from South America last night, beating Brazil 2-1 in Kazan. The Belgians benefited from an own goal by Fernandinho, and doubled their lead with Kevin De Bruyne, before Renato Augusto could vainly reduce the gap for the Selecao.
Still not a sparkling Brazil the one seen yesterday in Samara, but a solid and concrete team. That was enough for the Selecao to move into the Quarter Finals, in a World Cup with a keen for brusquely showing the exit door to most of the favorite teams. Coach Tite’s selection moved past Mexico with goals by Neymar and Roberto Firmino.
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.
Brazil breathed a sigh of relief today when Philippe Coutinho finally managed to open a breach into the Costa Rican wall, which had held for 90 minutes. Neymar made it two for the Selecao during extra time, redeeming his team after a disappointing debut against Switzerland. However, qualification is still all but granted for the Brazilians.
Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic had said it the day before the match: “We will win our group.” It’s too early to say whether his prophecy fulfills, but surely snatching one point out the game with the Selecao is a promising step in the right direction. Brazil on the other hand had a staggering start, failing to win their third World Cup game in a row.