Match No. 44 : Serbia (0) vs Brazil (2)
Spartak Stadium, Moscow
Arriving into the final round of games of group E, Brazil and Switzerland were at 4 points apiece with Brazil having a difference advantage followed closely by Serbia at 3 points. So this game was all to play for, for both the teams. With defending champions Germany bowing out of the World Cup after a shocking 2-0 collapse at the hands or South Korea, none of the tournament favorites had hit the peak yet. So there was added motivation for Brazil to do so. Serbia brought back Ljajic in their starting lineup with the number 10 role alongside widemen Tadic and Kostic with an in-form Mitrovic having netted 18 goals in 26 appearances for club and country in 2018.
Brazil ran out comfortable winners in the end with relentless attacking and defensive solidity at the back. They were focused from start to finish and didn’t allow Serbia to get back into the game after they took the lead through a fine chipped goal from Paulinho. Former captain Thiago Silva then doubled their lead as he netted a textbook header from Neymar’s corner. Brazil enjoyed 58% of ball possesion and had 6 shots on target as compared to just 2 from Serbia, as the game ended 2-0.
Brazil’s only concern from the game would be the extent of Marcelo’s injury, who was forced off very early for what looked like a possible hamstring; implying that his world cup could already be over. Filipe Luis, who replaced him, produced a fine display that must have somewhat reduced Tite’s headache.
2’ – MISS! Neymar finds Coutinho just outside the box who takes a shot at goal but it hits Willian who was roaming offside.
10’ – Brazil are forced to take off Marcelo for what looks like a hamstring injury in his right leg. He’s replaced by Filipe Luis.
14’ – It has been all Brazil so far. Serbia finally get a corner after Kolarov’s shot is deflected off a defender. However, the corner is cleared without any difficulty.
25’ – SAVE! Stojkovic is finally called into action after Jesus nutmegs a defender and find Neymar whose curling effort is tipped over.
33’ – Ljajic is booked for a late sliding challenge on Neymar.
34’ – MISS! Serbia have their first real chance as Tadic lofts a ball towards Mitrovic who tries an overhead kick but it goes over the crossbar.
36’ – GOAL! Brazil take the lead! Coutinho spots Paulinho’s run and produces a delicious ball over the Serbian backline which he chips over an onrushing Stojkovic.
40’ – Serbia get a corner but it’s cleared by Alisson who comes off his line.
46’ – MISS! Filipe Luis does well to find Neymar at the edge of the box, whose curling effort narrowly misses the crossbar.
48’ – Matic is shown the yellow card after taking down Jesus.
57’ – SAVE! Brazil counter from as Serbian corner through Neymar and his shot is saved by the keeper at the near post.
62’ – MISS! Serbia are trying to force through Brazil’s defence now as Tadic goes for goal through a dipping effort but it’s wide.
66’ – Brazil make their second change with the goalscorer Paulinho being taken off for Fernandinho.
68’ – GOAL! Silva doubles Brazil’s lead! The PSG defender races away from his marker before heading in a thumping effort into the near corner from Neymar’s corner.
75’ – Serbia make their first change as Ljajic is taken off for Mitrovic.
82’ – MISS! Willian’s cross from the right is deflected towards Neymar’s path whose powerful shot bounces off the ground before going over the crossbar.
86’ – SAVE! Fernandinho’s pass is now deflected to Neymar who tries to chip over Stojkovic but he does well to get a hand to keep it out.
89’ – Serbia make their final change as Mitrovic makes way for Jovic.
93’ – SAVE! Jesus holds onto the ball well before finding Neymar, who tries to round the keeper but his shot is well saved.
FT: Serbia 0-2 Brazil
Nemanja Matic (**): The Manchester United midfielder was one of the better players in the Serbian response today. Besides making 44 passes, he won 10 duels, 2 dribbles, 2 clearances, 3 tackles, 4 aerials and 2 interceptions. However, his efforts were still the part of the losing side.
Casemiro (***): He is one of the most indispensable players in the Brazilian squad and is producing performances Tite would expect from him. He hardly put a foot wrong and made 64 passes, besides winning 9 duels, 4 clearances, 4 tackles and 3 aerials.
*** Exceeded expectation ** Met expectation * Didn’t meet expectation
Neymar – He might not have found the net today but produced a distinctive display of football today. He had 7 shots out of which 3 were on target. He made 119 touches on the ball, 3 key passes, won 12 duels, 9 dribbles and 3 fouls. He was all over the Serbian defence today and bagged an assist when his inviting delivery found Silva’s head. The PSG star is now involved in 7 goals in his 8 world cup appearances (5 goals, 2 assists).
Viewer Rating: **
It was a very decent game of football without a lot of excitement and adventure. Brazil were thoroughly professional with their performance and would’ve wanted to cap off their final group game with the top spot and a win. And that’s exactly what they did.
Tite would be very pleased with the way his side has evolved over the course of the group stages. Brazil have been very threatening in attack, creating a lot of chances – sometimes out of nothing. They would be hoping a more clinical performance from Gabriel Jesus and Willian however who are yet to spark things into life. As for Serbia, they needed win anyhow to stand a chance to qualify but were never in the game. They bow out with a win in their opening game.
Brazil top group E with 7 points followed by Switzerland at 5 (who drew their game against Costa Rica). This means that Brazil face Mexico from group D in their round of 16 clash, whereas Switzerland face Sweden who topped their group, after defending champions Germany’s shocking exit from the world cup.