The Samba boys put up a convincing display against the Serbs on Tuesday night.
A controlled and at times, dominaNT performance from Brazil saw them overcome a determined Serbia side 2-0 in the last round of matches in Group E. The South Americans were disciplined and tactically smart from the go with goals from Paulinho and Thiago Silva underlining their class. The Europeans were mostly second-rate in most of the things they did, except for a short spell in the middle of the game. Once again, quality performances from Philippe Coutinho and Neymar saw the Selecao register a comfortable win over the Orlovi.
Brazil will now be facing Group F runners-up Mexico who lost 3-0 to Sweden on Tuesday evening in the Round of 16 match-up. Here are five things we learnt from the game.
Watch: Serbia 0-2 Brazil highlights
5. Brazil need to manage games better
It cost them the match against Switzerland and it could have done similar damage against Serbia. Brazil switched off after taking the lead in both the games and it cost them two points in the first one.
They have periods in games where they stitch 40 passes together in one go and they have periods where they cannot hold on to the ball for more than two seconds. This has to change or they will be punished against intelligent sides.
4. Brazil’s defensive structure and squad depth are unmatched
The Men in Yellow have one of the best benches in the World Cup. Marcelo hopped off the pitch early in the game, but Tite had the luxury to call upon Filipe Luis to replace him. Similarly, he has many options for his midfield and attack as well, but it is in defense where Brazil’s true strength lies.
3. Neymar is gradually regaining his fitness
Since his injury in February, Neymar had not played many games before coming to the World Cup. Despite regaining full fitness before the tournament, Brazil manager Tite had said that he would need at least four to five games to get his mojo back.
It seems that the settling in part is finally happening now. Against Serbia, the former Barcelona forward caught the eye with his passing, maturity and abandoned the showboating to focus more on the end-product. As such, he even setup Silva’s goal which was a reward for him plugging away throughout the 90 minutes. A fully-fit Neymar could be a major hassle for any of the big teams coming Brazil’s way.
2. Sergej Milankovic-Savic failed to live up to the hype
However, his performances at the tournament failed to justify the hype. He failed to make a mark against Brazil and was generally restricted to passing sideways and backwards most of the time.
1. Coutinho is class
Brazilian midfielder Coutinho has easily been one of the players of the tournament so far and Wednesday night was another demonstration of the fact. He scored two goals in the opening two games and took up the role of the creator in this one.
The Barcelona man’s delightfully chipped pass to Paulinho took out the Serbian defense and helped his side take the lead. He is gradually settling into the central midfield role and if the Selecao are to go far in the Mundial, he will play a key role.