The Brazilian team begins its attempt to win sixth place Globalism Thursday’s World Cup when they meet Serbia, while Cristiano Ronaldo will hope to put his acrimonious departure from Manchester United behind him as Portugal enters the fray against Ghana.
Brazil will be wary of the presence of a dangerous Serbian team when the two teams meet at Lusail Stadium, especially after Argentina witnessed a surprising defeat against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in the same stadium, and Germany lost to Japan on Wednesday.
The Brazilians arrived in Qatar hoping to repeat what happened at the last World Cup held in Asia two decades ago, when they won their fifth title in Japan.
Tite’s side can count on Neymar who has been in poor form for Paris Saint-Germain, but the world’s most expensive player is flanked by other high-profile strikers willing to share the burden, such as Real Madrid duo Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo.
“In my opinion, these players will help Neymar because they can divide the responsibility and create space for him,” said Thiago Silva, captain of the veteran Brazilian national team.
“The atmosphere in the team is very healthy. The mix of young and experienced players creates a great connection.”
However, Serbia looks more dangerous than four years ago, when they also faced Brazil in the group stage but lost 2-0 and returned home in the first round.
“We don’t fear anyone in the world, not even Brazil,” insisted Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic, who was hoping prolific Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic would be fit for the Group G opener.
Portugal ‘too focused’
Switzerland and Cameroon will start Thursday’s matches in the same section at Al Janoub Stadium at 1:00 pm (1000 GMT).
Swiss captain Granit Xhaka has indicated his team will not emulate Germany’s mouth-covering protest against FIFA’s stance on the rainbow armbands.
The Swiss were one of seven European teams whose captains had to wear the armband in support of LGBT people at the tournament in Qatar, where homosexuality is prohibited.
Germany made the gesture as they prepared for a team photo ahead of their shock 2-1 defeat by Japan after dropping captain Manuel Neuer’s plans to don the captain’s armband following threats of disciplinary action from FIFA on the pitch.
“I don’t think we need to do anything as a Swiss team. We need to respect the rules and focus on our football, that’s all I intend to do,” Xhaka said on Wednesday.
His bitter departure from Old Trafford has overshadowed Ronaldo’s preparations for what is sure to be his last World Cup.
It was announced late Tuesday that the 37-year-old would leave United “with immediate effect” following a candid interview with a British radio station in which he said he felt “betrayed” by the club and had no respect for the manager. Eric ten Hag.
His club’s form this season has been poor, but he is still hoping for one last chance at World Cup glory. Portugal is expected to start with a win at Stadium 974 on Doha’s waterfront against Ghana, who are ranked 61st in the FIFA rankings.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos has claimed that Ronaldo’s separation from United was not discussed by the players.
“The players are completely focused, with great spirit, convinced of what they have to do, what their goals are and realistic about the challenges they face,” Santos said.
“Winning a competition of this magnitude is difficult.”
Son to play for Korea
Portugal and Ghana play in Group H with Uruguay and South Korea, who meet in the other match on Thursday.
Son Heung-min will be able to play for South Korea despite wearing a mask after facial surgery.
The Tottenham Hotspur striker and Korean captain underwent surgery earlier this month after suffering a fracture around his left eye during a Champions League match.
“Son can and will be able to play,” said coach Paulo Bento.
Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano scored to lead Japan from behind to beat Germany in Group E, while Spain began their campaign with a 7-0 win over Costa Rica and Ferran Torres scored twice for the 2010 World Cup winners.
Belgium also got off to a winning start in Wednesday’s late game, with Michy Batshuayi’s goal giving them a 1-0 victory over Canada, whose penalty was saved by Alfonso Davies.
Group F rivals Morocco tied 0-0 with 2018 finalists Croatia.
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