Neymar failed to impress as Brazil could only manage a draw against an organised Switzerland side in their opening Group E encounter in Rostov. Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring with a screamer from outside the box in the 20th minute to ensure a lead at halftime. The Swiss grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half and equalised from a corner thanks to Steven Zuber’s header from the near post. Brazil had a good shout for a penalty but the referee waved it off. What then is the point of the VAR?
However, the biggest disappointment of the night was Neymar. He seemed to spend most of the time on the floor protesting calls made by the referee. He also slowed down the Brazilian attack by dwelling on the ball and always trying to beat players or entertain rather than playing tactically and efficient (he clearly was not match fit to play competitive football). I felt he should have been subbed off for the dynamism of Douglas Costa from the 60th minute.
Earlier, Mexico rattled the German armoury by defeating the defending champions 1 – 0 in the World Cup group F clash in Russia courtesy Hirving Lozano’s strike in the 35th minute. Germany looked flat in attack without real purpose and drive. They could not deal with Mexico’s pace, drive and combativeness in midfield. It was a brave performance, one that ensured they got all three points for their tremendous effort and concentration for 90 minutes. The Germans seemed to not to have enough and struggled to get going throughout the game. However, Germany will be looking to bounce back in their next game against Sweden on Saturday.
Serbia battled to defeat Costa Rica 1 – 0 from a 56th minute stunning freekick from AS Roma defender Aleksandar Kolarov to raise Serbia over the line, making them Group E leaders, above Brazil. The game was hard fought and on another day a draw would have been a good result for both teams.
Tomorrow, England will look to start off their World Cup campaign against Tunisia in group H, while Belgium will take on World Cup newbies Panama. Sweden will also take on South Korea in an early kick-off on Monday