Four things we learnt from Brazil's late win over Switzerland
Brazil's midfielder #05 Casemiro (L) celebrates with Brazil's forward #20 Vinicius Junior after he scored his team's first goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group G football match between Brazil and Switzerland at Stadium 974 in Doha on November 28, 2022. (Photo by NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP) (Photo by NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP via Getty Images)

Brazil sealed their place in the knockout stages with a narrow 1-0 win over Switzerland.

A quiet first half saw Vinicius Junior waste the game's best chance with a tame shot at Yann Sommer after he ghosted in unmarked following Richarlison's cross.

The Real Madrid wide man thought he had scored his first World Cup goal on 64 minutes, but Richarlison was deemed to be offside in the build up to the goal.

Brazil made the eventual breakthrough seven minutes from time as Casemiro fired a wonderful half-volley home leaving Sommer with no chance.

The result sees Seleção Canarinho into the knockout stages whilst Switzerland will need to beat Serbia to go through or hope that Cameroon do not beat Brazil if they draw.

So what did we learn from the game?

  • Neymar shifts the balance

The likes of Vinicius Junior, Raphinha, Antony and Rodrygo are all wonderful footballers in their own right and each bear similarities in their samba play style to Brazilian icon and teammate Neymar.

It is tough to exactly replicate what he does on a football pitch, though, with Brazil seemingly slower and lacking quality without their star man.

The number 10 hobbled off in their victory against Serbia last week and is now likely to be back in the fold for the knockout stages after sharing a picture on social media of his badly swollen ankle.

Brazil boss Tite opted with Fred to replace Neymar this time, with Lucas Paqueta playing slightly further forward in midfield.

This showed his reluctance to go with his plethora of attacking options from the start, even despite Switzerland looking shaky and unnerved in defensive situations.

As soon as Tite went for attacking changes with Rodrygo on for Paqueta and Bruno Guimares for Fred, the side looked much more balanced and quicker going forward.

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There is certainly a case for going for a more positive team from the off against lesser opposition, which Brazil are likely to face should they get a point against Cameroon to come top of Group G.

This was the first time since his debut that Brazil had won a World Cup game without Neymar in the side, a clear sign that they can cope without him but just need to strike the balance right.

  • Brazil are serious contenders 

If it was not clear already, Brazil are at the 2022 World Cup to win the trophy and nothing else.

A strong backline is always key to winning, with Tite wanting his side to keep a clean sheet first then go and score goals as shown by his aforementioned change with Fred coming in for Neymar.

Brazil are yet to concede a goal in their two games so far, with the last three winners conceding just six, four and two goals throughout the tournament. 

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Despite an aging defence with Thiago Silva now 39 and Alex Telles and Danilo both 31 - they have managed to concede no shots on target so far and just 11 shots in their first two games. 

Long may it continue for Tite and his players, with them showing all the defensive credentials to be a winner despite looking somewhat lacklustre up front at times.

  • The Swiss defence must improve

As time went on in the game, Switzerland allowed their opponents too much time in the half spaces and time in behind the full-backs.

Worryingly, they’re most important players such as Granit Xhaka and Remo Freuler also gave the ball away in key areas to put their defenders under pressure.

Defenders Stefan Widmer, Manuel Akanji and Ricardo Rodriguez lost possession 19, 12 and 18 times respectively throughout the game - all too many times against high-class opposition attackers like Brazil's.

Widmer was caught on the back foot numerous times in the second half, with his average position actually higher than right winger Fabian Rieder whilst both were on the pitch together.

On one occasion this gave Vinicius Junior the freedom of the wing as he raced through and netted past Sommer only for the goal to be chalked off through a prior offside, no doubt to Widmer's relief.

Murat Yakin's side must show signs of improvement on Friday against a Serbia side that scored three goals in their second group game against Cameroon.

  • Brazil will need goals from all over

Casemiro's late winner was just his sixth international goal in 67 games, showing that Tite's open style of play could lead to Brazil players grabbing goals from all over the pitch in this tournament.

Defenders look likely to score with Raphinha putting a number of dangerous set-pieces, with an attacking player playing in the number 10 role always capable of scoring from long range, whether that be Paqueta, Rodrygo or Neymar when he returns.

Richarlison did not net against Switzerland, but his brace in the opening game shows that he can be relied upon as a source of goals in the tighter games that are likely to come in a few weeks time.

If Neymar's injury is set to persist, Tite will be missing his 75 goals for his country as well as their main creator.

Aside from Richarlison and his backup striker Gabriel Jesus, the rest of the Brazil attackers including Vinicius, Rodrygo, Raphinha, Gabriel Martinelli, Pedro and Antony have just 10 international goals in 59 caps between them.

Brazil got a goal from holding midfielder Casemiro in this tight game, and will likely need more of its kind if they are to come through such games as the tournament progresses.