Brazil kick off their World Cup competition against Serbia.
The five-time world champions Brazil are in fine form heading in the tournament and hold the record for the only nation to have played in every world cup since the inception in 1930. Serbia on the other hand have been very dismal on their journey and have lost seven of their nine World Cup matches. That performance of 7 losses has been the worst for any European team in the world cup only Australia boasts a more undesirable record with just one more.
Both teams squared off twice before, once in the group stage four years ago, and once in a friendly eight years ago. Brazil came out on top on both occasions winning 2-0 and 1-0 respectively. Two of the scorers then are with the present crop of players in Qatar and are looking to continue their dominance over their European counterpart.
Brazil waltz through the qualifiers like John Travolta in Dirty Dancing collecting a maximum of 45 points from 17 games. Brazil is now unbeaten in 15 straight games in the group stage and looked set to go deep in the competition after being booted early in the last four World Cup. They fell prey to France’s Zinedine Zidane 2006, ambushed by Holland’s Arjen Robben 2010, outclassed by Germany’s Toni Kroos 2014, and outfoxed by Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne 2018.
Since the golden generation of Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho Brazil has failed to spark in the world cup. However, if they are to set the tournament on fire much is dependent on Paris and St Germain Neymar Jr., Real Madrid Vinicius Jr., and the Manchester United pair of steel Fred and Casemiro. Coach Tite may use his favorite 4-2-3-1 formation, with Liverpool Alisson Becker with a safe pair of hands in goal, Chelsea Thiago Silva anchoring the back four alongside Paris and Saint Germain Marquinhos and Juventus pair Danilo, and Alex Sandro. Casemiro and Fred are highly fancied to line up in the diamond midfield, while Paris and Saint Germain star man Neymar sitting in the middle as a number 10 between Barcelona Raphinha and Real Madrid Vinicius Junior, Tottenham Hotspur’s Richarlison, will be the lone striker upfront to provide the goals.
Serbia has been to the World Cup on three occasions and has never advanced to the round of 16. If Serbia is to achieve a knockout round birth for the first time in their history as an independent nation, coach Dragan Stojkovic must work a miracle with his charge. Stojkovic is likely to go with a back three, five in midfield and two upfront. Salzburg Strahinja Pavlovic is expected to join Getafe Nikola Milenkovic and Fiorentina Stefan Mitrovic at center-back.
This three man defense is expected protect Torino goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic, who is highly touted to start between the sticks ahead of Marko Dmitrovic and Predrag Rajkovic despite having won only seven caps for the national team.
Sevilla’s Nemanja Gudelj will orchestrate things from the middle of the park alongside captain and Lazio Starman Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, with PAOK Andrija Zivkovic operating out wide on the left and Juventus Filip Kostic out wide on the right, while Ajax Dusan Tadic is set to start in the number 10 role and Juventus Dusan Vlahovic as the lone striker up top.
Brazil’s South American rivals Argentina and four-time World Cup winner Germany slumped to a jaw dropping defeat in their opening group game. With the world watching and hoping Brazil do not suffer a similar fate they have to get it right. Brazil cannot use previous encounter and assume that Thursday’s contest with Serbia will be a Sunday morning stroll in the park as of such they must get it right from minute one to minute ninety if they wish to make the perfect start in Group G. Nevertheless, the Selecao Canarinho can take encouragement from Serbia’s porous defense conceding in all eight of their UEFA qualifiers, and Tite’s abundance of attacking quality should prevail in front of goal in Lusail over the Eagles.