The shock result sees the Samba Boys start off on the wrong foot against arguably their toughest opponents in the group.
The Group E opener of the 2018 FIFA World Cup came as a shock to everyone as it ended in a 1-1 draw. The fixture saw the tournament favourites, Brazil being held by a resolute Switzerland team. It was very much a game of two halves, with the team dubbed as the ‘New Brazil’, showing off the grit and determination interleaved with the flair of Brazilian teams of the past. However, they came out in the second half and took the game to the Brazilians, earning a goal for their efforts.
In the first half, Brazilian full-back, Marcelo spent most of his time in the opposition half, a trait that has been prevalent throughout his career. This lack of positional awareness was not pounced upon by Switzerland who even laid off the Real Madrid man as he started the attack for the first goal.
Watch: Brazil 1-1 Switzerland highlights
Xherdan Shaqiri’s lack of desire to track back and win the ball for his team, led to Philipe Coutinho finding space on the edge of the box, a position from which he is most dangerous and curling a shot past the flailing arms of the goalkeeper. At 33-years-old, Stephen Lichsteiner, the new Arsenal signing needed Shaqiri’s help to keep a very left-sided Brazil team quiet. However, theathelp never came.
The side chosen by Tite, the Brazilian manager had a few surprises in formation, with Phillipe Coutinho deployed in a deeper position to allow him to dictate play from midfield, a task which he executed to perfection in the first half.
But, After the break, Switzerland looked like they had found another gear. The goal came from a corner that should have been easily dealt with. Thiago Silva and Joao Miranda, who had looked strong all through qualifying, failed to mark Steven Zuber as he headed the ball into the net.
The fact that the Brazilian front four of Neymar, Coutinho, Willian and Gabriel Jesus had only played 77 minutes of international football prior to the game became evident, with several passes going astray in the second half. Valon Behrami had an excellent game for Switzerland, keeping Neymar honest throughout. The Brazilian golden boy drew more fouls than any player on the pitch and was not given the room to weave his magic.
Behrami won 100% of his aerial duels and made two interceptions as the Brazilians were reduced to taking speculative shots from outside the box. The Samba Boys had 12 shots following Zuber’s equaliser while Switzerland had only none. They were happy to stay behind the ball and let Brazil come at them, a tactic that paid off in the end.
The game showed the world that while Brazil are a very strong team, they aren’t infallible. Tite has brought the them a long way since 2014, but there’s still more work to do.