World Cup 2022: Brazil vs Serbia Match Preview | News about the World Cup 2022 in Qatar

WHO: Brazil v Serbia, Group G

Where: Lusail Stadium

When: Thursday, 22:00 (19:00 GMT)

FIFA Ranking: Brazil (1), Serbia (21)

Brazil and Serbia will meet in the group stage of the World Cup for the second year in a row. A lot has changed for both teams since their meeting in Moscow four years ago.

Brazil’s development is best illustrated by the fact that the opening goal in their 2-0 win over Serbia in 2018 was scored by Paulinho – who has not played for the national team for the past four years. Brazil’s midfield was dismantled by Belgium in the quarter-finals that year and the way they were exposed kept manager Tite awake at night.

Their midfield going into the current World Cup has been significantly strengthened. In Fabinho, Bruno Guimarães and Lucas Paquetá – all of whom will make their World Cup debuts in Qatar – Tite has found the perfect balance in the middle of the park.

Brazil was a team in transition in 2018, lacking a clear identity. The shadow of their 2014 World Cup humiliation – when they were thrashed 7-1 in front of their home fans by Germany in the semi-finals – still hung over the team and the nation as a whole.

But this time around, there is a palpable enthusiasm among the perennial favourites, largely to do with the attacking talent at their disposal.

Neymar is playing his best football at Paris Saint-Germain. Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli have been key to Arsenal’s revival this season. Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo have just returned from winning the Champions League with Real Madrid. Add to that Raphinha, Antony and Richarlison and it’s a forward line made up of equal parts fire and talent.

The Seleção were unbeaten in World Cup qualifying, scoring 45 goals and conceding just five.

Like Brazil, Serbia has also gone through changes since the last World Cup. The 2018 tournament in Russia was only their second appearance at the World Cup. The squad was dotted with veterans who were clearly past their prime and youngsters lacking the experience of playing on such an international stage. Unsurprisingly, they were eliminated in the group stage.

But the current team seems better equipped to handle the pressures of major league ball. Old guard Branislav Ivanović, Nemanja Matić and Aleksandar Kolarov are out, and the younger players who were part of the 2018 squad have made huge strides in their development.

Aleksandar Mitrović broke the record for most goals scored in an English season last year. He is currently one of the most feared strikers in the Premier League. Filip Kostić starred in Eintracht Frankfurt’s Europa League win last season, sealing a move to Juventus.

Lazio’s Sergej Milinković-Savić has consistently been one of the best midfielders in Serie A. Serbian captain Dušan Tadić moved to Ajax after the 2018 World Cup and was a key player in their run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019. The rise. striker Dušan Vlahović – Real Madrid and Manchester United are reportedly among those eyeing him – adds to the power of this Serbian attack.

Serbia topped their World Cup qualifying group ahead of Portugal, scoring 18 goals in eight games.

Mitro
Aleksandar Mitrovic scored more goals than Cristiano Ronaldo in World Cup qualifiers REUTERS/Marko Djurica/File Photo

Serbia and Brazil lean heavily on their attacks and have a check in the backline. Serbia have only kept three clean sheets in their last 14 official matches. Meanwhile, the squad in Brazil is lacking in the wing-back positions: Danilo, Alex Telles, Alex Sandro and Dani Alves do not inspire confidence. Their attacking nature could be exploited by Serbia’s speedy wingers.

Brazil entered the World Cup in great form and are yet to lose a game since last year’s Copa America final to Argentina. They have scored 18 goals in their last five games. Serbia have won four of their last five matches and scored 14 goals in them.

Everything points to one thing: On Thursday, you can expect the highest scorer.

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