Brazil draw vs. Switzerland no cause for concern as World Cup fires up
12:29 PM ET
- Fernando Duarte
For the first time since 1978, Brazil did not win their opening match at a World Cup. Those with penchants for omens will already have mentioned that the Selecao have never lifted the tournament without an initial victory. However, that's a mere detail following the anticlimactic 1-1 draw with Switzerland in Rostov.
Brazil had problems in that match that will need adjustments, but not everything was so gloomy.
Reasons to jeer
Defensive blunder: Not only have Brazil trained dead-ball situations to exhaustion, but the defensive work under Tite has yielded some remarkable stats. For instance, they've managed 16 clean sheets in 21 games.
This is why it was so frustrating to see Steven Zuber score Switzerland's equaliser in the manner that he did. While debate about the push on Miranda that gave the Swiss defender a precious yard to head the ball home still rages in Brazil, the Selecao centre-back was much more to blame by turning his back on his marker. Goalkeeper Alisson also gets some flak for not leaving his line to challenge a ball in his 6-yard box.
Jesus was a mere mortal: Gabriel Jesus is one the players who blossomed under Tite, but his first World Cup game will serve as exhibit A for people wanting to see Roberto Firmino lead the charge instead. FIFA's official stats show that Jesus had a stinker of a game: While the Selecao took 20 shots on goal, only one attempt came from their young No. 9. The Man City man also endured a difficult game in possession, registering the worst passing performance of any Brazilian with just 62 percent accuracy.
Suddenly, being the top scorer in the Tite era doesn't look like a total "get out of jail free" card.
Careless game: In the first 20 minutes of the game in Rostov, Brazil worked hard and were rewarded with a goal. The team then gambled on the Swiss self-destructing from 1-0 down, which didn't happen. In fact, the European side kept its cool and even after equalising, they took the game to Brazil. It was a very different scenario from Iceland vs. Argentina, when the Nordic side seemingly parked the bus after making it 1-1. The heat maps show that Switzerland was only pushed back when Brazil threw themselves forward.
What as Tite thinking? For the first time since taking over Brazil, Tite is under scrutiny and one second-half substitution in particular didn't help. The manager was criticised by fans and media for replacing Paulinho with Renato Augusto, a move that hardly changed things for Brazil and looked more targeted at guaranteeing a 1-1 result.
There were also complaints that Neymar needed to be withdrawn, especially after being hunted by Swiss defenders: An Opta Sports assessment clai med he was fouled 10 times and suffered the biggest special attention to a player in a World Cup since England's Alan Shearer against Tunisia in France 1998. With Juventus star Douglas Costa on the bench, the option was there.
Reasons to cheer
The World Cup has been hard for everyone: With the exception of France, every team with the "pre-tournament favourite" tag struggled in their first game of Russia 2018. Antoine Griezmann & Co. were also made to work hard against Australia. That is evidence of a higher level of play in the tournament and should serve as some consolation.
It's no longer Neymar + 10: While Brazil's talisman is needed for any credible challenge at the trophy, Brazil managed to get by on a night when he wasn't too sharp. Though he didn't play as bad as some pundits suggest, the deployment of Philippe Coutinho in the middle gave Brazil more range -- and as the former Liverpo ol player showed, offered more danger for shots from distance.
Marcelo has stepped up a gear: Far from the hesitant player from 2014, the Real Madrid left-back wore the captain armband and was one of the best on the pitch on Sunday. His triangulations with Neymar and Coutinho on the left will be worrisome for any side Brazil will face in Russia.
There is time to regroup: Maybe Brazil needed a scare at a time when everything seems to have been working smoothly. Recent World Cup campaigns, especially Spain in 2010 and Germany in 2014, show that winning it all requires as much grit than flair. In this case, a bad performance, the sense of injustice in Miranda's case and the questionable decision when Jesus was grabbed by Breel Embolo in the Swiss box could serve to galvanise the team.Source: Google News South Brazil | Netizen 24 Brazil