2018 could be Neymar's World Cup, however there are question marks over his temperament.

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Brazil World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide

Brazil vs Switzerland (17th June)

One of the favourites going in, can Brazil forget about their 2014 demons? – Match preview here

Brazil Starting XI: 1 Alisson, 2 Thiaso Silva, 3 Miranda, 5 Casemiro (17 Fernandinho 60), 9 Gabriel Jesus (20 Roberto Firmino 79), 10 Neymar, 11 Philippe Coutinho, 12 Marcelo, 14 Danilo, 15 Paulinho (8 Renato Augusto 67), 19 Willian

Switzerland Starting XI: 1 Yann Sommer, 2 Stefan Lichtsteiner (6 Michael Lang 87), 5 Manuel Akanji, 9 Haris Seferovic (7 Breel Embolo 80), 10 Granit Xhaka, 11 Valon Behrami (17 Denis Zakaria 70), 13 Ricardo Rodriguez, 14 Steven Zuber, 15 Blerim Dzemaili, 22 Fabian Schar, 23 Xherden Shaqiri

Rostov-on-Don

Brazil 1 Switzerland 1

Scorers:

Brazil: Coutinho 35
Switzerland: Zuber 50

Match overview

Brazil were frustrated and held to a draw by Switzerland in their opening game after Steven Zuber’s controversial header cancelled out Philippe Coutinho’s spectacular goal.

The pre-tournament favourites took a deserved lead but their play dropped off after scoring the opener and they could not raise their game when Switzerland equalised with Steven Zuber’s header early in the second half.

Neymar, who was heavily fouled throughout, was one of a number of Brazilians who had late chances to grab the winner, but Switzerland, who had no shots on goal after their equaliser, held out.

Matter of fact

Valon Behrami became the first Swiss player to appear at four World Cups.

Granit Xhaka and Haris Seferovic were part of the Swiss side that beat a Brazil team containing Alisson, Neymar, Coutinho, Casemiro at the 2009 Under-17 World Cup. 

Talking point

The Brazilian federation launched a formal complaint to FIFA about the refereeing, claiming that Switzerland’s equaliser should have been ruled out after a push by Zuber on Miranda just before he jumped to head the ball home, but VAR ruled that the goal stood.

Stats

Brazil/Switzerland

Possession: 52/48

Goal attempts: 20/6

Attempts on target: 9/4

Corners: 7/2

Fouls: 12/19

Pass accuracy: 88/83

Distance covered: 103/108

Brazil World Cup Guide

A desperate struggle – Brazil were down in sixth place with a third of the campaign gone – turned into a triumphant and exhilarating victory parade from the moment that Tite replaced Dunga as coach. Following the new coach’s appointment, Brazil then put together 10 wins and two draws to seal their place at the 2018 World Cup with four rounds to spare. Question marks remain over the team’s temperament, particularly that of Neymar. Against Ecuador he was over-concerned with drawing fouls and a routine game became a tense occasion. He lost control, picked up a yellow card for a crude foul and missed four games through suspension. It remains to be seen whether he or others explode under pressure.

Key Moments in Qualifying 

Jun 2016
Failure to get out of the group stage of the Copa Centenario saw coach Dunga lose his job and Tite come in as his replacement.
Sep 2016
Tite’s first game, away to Ecuador, was a nervy affair. The game was goalless with 20 minutes to go and Brazil would have probably taken a draw at that point. But debutant Gabriel Jesus forced a penalty, soon after the hosts had a man sent off and the Selecao went on to win 3-0.
Nov 2016
A goal up at home to Argentina, Lionel Messi was looking dangerous for the visitors until, on the stroke of half-time, Jesus played a reverse ball into the path of Neymar, who put the game beyond their rivals’ reach.
Mar 2017
Brazil did show they may have resolve as well as talent by winning 4-1 in Uruguay after going a goal behind.

Brazil World Cup Group

Brazil make up Group E alongside Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia.

Brazil World Cup Friendlies

On the 23rd of March Brazil played against World Cup hosts Russia and won handily 3-0 with goals from Miranda, Coutinho, and Paulinho. They then beat Germany on the 27th, and then Ivan Rakitic and Croatia on the 3rd of June. Their final game was a 3-0 victory over Austria.

  • 23rd March – Russia (won 3-0)
  • 27th March- Germany (won 1-0)
  • 3rd June – Croatia (won 2-0)
  • 10th June – Austria (won 3-0)

Brazil World Cup Fixtures

Brazil play arguably their toughest group opponents in their first game of the tournament, Switzerland on the 17th of June. Costa Rica follow five days later, and then Serbia five days after that.

The Coach

Tite, age 56 (25.05.61)
Appointed in June 2016, he is an intelligent and charismatic figure who won domestic, continental and world titles with Corinthians before taking time off to carry out an in-depth study of top-class European football.

Related: What Life for Tite After Brazil?

Inspired: New coach Tite inspired Brazil to top their qualification group (Getty Images)

The Players
Stars
Coming into his peak years, Neymar is full of dazzling improvisation at pace and is a constant threat. Providing he can keep his head, this World Cup could be his tournament.
Stalwarts 
Paulinho was a controversial recall, but Tite is well aware of his virtues from their time together at Corinthians.
Debuts
Gabriel Jesus came in and immediately solved Brazil’s centre-forward problem, scoring seven goals despite only starting half the games. But will he be jaded after a first full season in the Premier League? The appearance of goalkeeper Ederson in the final game may be telling.

Brazil World Cup Squad

Final World Cup Squad –

GOALKEEPERS: Alisson (Roma), Ederson (Manchester City), Cassio (Corinthians).

DEFENDERS: Danilo (Manchester City), Fagner (Corinthians), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Thiago Silva, Marquinhos (both Paris St-Germain), Miranda (Inter Milan) Pedro Geromel (Gremio).

MIDFIELDERS: Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Paulinho (Barcelona), Fred (Shakhtar Donetsk), Renato Augusto (Beijing Guoan), Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona), Willian (Chelsea), Douglas Costa (Juventus).

FORWARDS: Neymar Jr (Paris St-Germain), Taison (Shakhtar Donetsk), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool).

Probable Starting XI

Alisson, Marcelo, Silva, Miranda, Danilo, Casemiro, Fernandinho, Paulinho, Coutinho, Neymar, Jesus

Brazil World Cup Injuries

Neymar fractured his metatarsal for Paris Saint Germain and it is questionable whether he will be 100% fit by June.

Dani Alves has suffered a knee injury and will miss the tournament.

Dazzling: Neymar is nearly on the same level as Messi and Ronaldo, but his head occasionally explodes (Getty Images)

The Unanswered Questions

Have they been truly tested yet?
Tite’s team were magnificent against a disappointing crop of South American rivals, but stiffer tests lie ahead. That point was illustrated by the collapse of Argentina’s defence against Nigeria on the same day Brazil were held by an inexperienced England side.

Vulnerable: Dani Alves and Marcelo are rampaging full-backs. But they leave a lot of space behind them (Getty Images)

Would the side benefit from appointing a permanent captain?
Without a natural candidate for the role of on-field leader, Tite has been choosing a different skipper for every match and plans to continue doing so in Russia. Brazil sides have often been at their best with a vocal leader.

Can they cover the vulnerable space behind the full-backs?
Both Dani Alves and Marcelo are rampaging attacking full-backs but neither is great defensively. Opponents will surely seek to probe the space they leave behind them. With Alves picking up his injury, Tite does have options at right back though.

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