Qatar World Cup: Why I’m nervous ahead of Brazil’s first game

Brazil are taking part in the Qatar World Cup later in the evening (November 24) and I’m excited. They may have one of the best teams in recent memory, but shock victories by Saudi Arabia and Japan bother me.

Actually, I shouldn’t be worried. Simply because Brazil packed far too much quality for Serbia. This is not disrespect towards the Serbs. It’s just that a team with the firepower of Neymar, Vincius Jr, Antony, Raphinha, Casemiro, Richarlison and more will find a way to victory.

You can learn from the defeats of Argentina and Germany. The two football giants failed to complete the competitions, allowing the rivals to jump back into the game. The Latins could point to VAR’s offside decisions, but Germany generally failed to defuse the Japanese defense and whenever they did goalkeeper Suichi Gonda was impregnable.

So Brazil should set themselves apart from the overwhelming victories of England and Spain: both cut their opponents mercilessly. And that was a stern warning to their rivals. The Selecao, as Brazil is known, is strong enough to make a statement and it should be against Serbia.

Opening games can be notoriously tricky, and this tournament has already seen two big shock results. Reason enough for Brazil to start strong. But the Serbs are not weaklings.

The Serbian threat

Dragan Stojkovic’s team has two prolific goalscorers in Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Vlahovic, who are supported by a midfield of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Dusan Tadic. In addition, Filip Kostic comes into the penalty area with his accurate crosses from the left flank.

That will give Thiago Silva’s defense a headache. Silva, 38, is still a brilliant defender and I just hope he isn’t a step behind in catching up with the Serbian strikers. Casemiro’s midfield presence, 30, is certainly reassuring.

But coach Tite’s problems start at the front. A problem of abundance. Who will he choose? Raphina, Vinicius Jr. and Richarlison appear to be front runners but they will face competition from Antony, Rodrygo, Pedro, Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli. This is a pleasant problem.

Then there’s Neymar. He’s no Messi and the Brazilian attack isn’t about him, which is a great relief after ignominious exits at the last two World Cups. That’s not meant to detract from Neymar’s caliber, but it’s reassuring to know there are others running the gauntlet.

The world’s number one team goes unbeaten to Lusail Stadium in 15 games, including seven straight wins. I await the eighth with bated breath.


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