Brazil were held to a surprise draw in their Group E opener against Switzerland as Steven Zuber’s 50th minute header saw the two nations split the points.
After a comfortable opening half from the South American giants, Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring with a typical Philippe Coutinho worldie when the Barcelona attacker’s 25-yard curler flew straight into the upper-90 of the Swiss goal.
However, Switzerland responded well with organised and simple football, and it was this style that led to the equalising goal in the second half when Hoffenheim winger Zuber headed in the game-levelling goal from a corner to seal a vital point for the European side.
A cagey start
Brazil went into this game the clear and obvious favourites, but the five-time World Cup champions didn’t get the perfect start they so desired.
Switzerland made it hard for the team in yellow to find any real opportunities in the opening 10 minutes, as the midfield pivot of Granit Xhaka and Valon Behrami completely killed any creative flow for the likes of Paulinho and Coutinho.
Coutinho puts his mark on the game
Over the years at Liverpool, Coutinho made a name for himself by scoring world-class goals frequently and out of nowhere for the Merseyside club.
And 20 minutes in in his first ever World Cup game, the little Brazilian did what Premier League fans have been used to seeing for years.
A failed Swiss clearance fell to the feet of Coutinho, and from 20-yards out on the edge of the penalty area, the former Liverpool player curled the ball past the reach of Yann Sommer with an inch-perfect finesse shot straight out of a video game to give Brazil the lead.
Switzerland regain their steel
Coutinho‘s goal was world-class and could not have been stopped even if Switzerland had two keepers in between the sticks, but the opener came after a lapse of concentration from the Swiss side, something that they rarely do.
And from that goal onward Vladimir Petkovic’s side made sure they didn’t lose focus for the rest of the half.
The defence immediately tightened up, the midfield began to work more effectively in shutting down passing lanes and winning the ball smartly.
The attacking four were more ruthless in their forward approach and causing some problems for the Brazilian defence as well, but the European side were unable to get anything as the halftime whistle blew.
A sudden equaliser
Brazil started the second half calm and composed, just like they did in the first 45 minutes. However, this nonchalant approach to the game played into Swirzerland’s hands, and in the 50th minute Zuber levelled the game up.
The goal came after Die Nati won a cheap corner, the set-piece found the head of Zuber in the penalty area, who had been left completely open by Miranda, and with a powerful header way past the reach of Alisson, the Hoffenheim winger put Switzerland back in the game.
The goal shocked Brazil. This was not in the plan and it was surprising even to the few thousands Switzerland fans in the stadium.
In order to regroup Tite brought off Casemiro, who had been booked and was not in his usual Real Madrid form, and brought on Manchester City’s Fernandinho for more extra defensive stability.
Although the Selecao began to grow more back into the game, the attacking talent of Brazil was unable to break down Switzerland’s stubborn defence.
Neymar had worst his World Cup performance to date as his trickery and flair that we always associate with him was missing this evening, and Gabriel Jesus found it difficult to shrug off his marker.
Despite heaps of possession and the introduction of Roberto Firmino, Brazil were unable to find a winning goal and Tite’s side settled for an unwanted point in a day of World Cup upsets.