Brazil took the field for the first time in Russia to begin their 2018 World Cup campaign. The South American side are widely considered heavy favourites to win it all and take home the trophy. They have performed incredibly under Tite and were hoping to stamp their authority with a convincing and dominant win against Switzerland.
The line-up was as predicted by most. It included two Real Madrid players in Marcelo and Casemiro. The rest of the star studded team was unquestionably led by the prolific Neymar. Notably, former Madridista Danilo earned a starting berth at the right back position. Switzerland’s line-up included Lichtsteiner, Shaqiri, Xhaka, and Rodriguez among others.
Brazil struggled to impose themselves in the match due to a seeming disconnection between their defense and offense as Casemiro and Paulinho couldn’t link the two components. That being said, they showed good attacking intensity favoring their left side where Marcelo, Neymar and Countinho (who tended to gravitate towards that wing) tested the Swiss defense.
The Brazilians’ offensive intent was repaid in the 20th minute when Countinho scored a golazo after Marcelo’s cross was cleared. The midfielder collected the ball just outside the box before setting himself up and fantastically curling the ball past Sommer off the post into the net. Brazil seemed to be energized by the goal and began finding more spaces to work through on the field with the fullbacks seeing more of the ball down the wings.
All good things must come to an end... Brazil drew Switzerland, snapping its 9-match winning streak in #WorldCup openers. It was the longest streak in World Cup history. pic.twitter.com/LakGGDfkjY— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 17, 2018
However, this didn’t last long as Switzerland built momentum and began controlling proceedings after the break. Brazil were suppressed and shifted into a more conservative mode. This proved consequential as Zuber nodded in an equalizer following Shaqiri’s corner delivery early in the second half. At this point, wanting to regain the edge, Tite made changes including substituting in Fernandinho for Casemiro who had been a little anonymous (although solid as part of an overall effective defensive structure).
The other subs were Renato Augusto and Firmino. The latter performed very well and seemed to have a very positive influence on the left side as Neymar’s and Marcelo’s touches seemed much more dangerous. Ultimately however, Switzerland held on for the draw meaning that another major World Cup contender was unable to register a win in their opening game.