Another round-up from the World Cup in Russia sees Brazil and Switzerland qualify for the knockout stages after Neymar and the boys beat Serbia, and the Swiss draw against Costa Rica.
I just ate a vegan burger called The Cowless Burger. It was a monster. A mixed bean patty, shredded beets and carrots, vegan cheese, two fried onion rings, lettuce and BBQ sauce.
As I sat in the courtyard, the sun beating the crap out of me, onion rings burning the roof of my mouth, heat enclosed around me like I was living inside a kettle, I thought, “Christ, this is good.”
What was it?
Was it the onion rings?
The shredded beets?
The presence of whole sweetcorns I will later see floating in the toilet after taking my morning shit?
It was the BBQ sauce.
Without the BBQ sauce, you were watching a World Cup with Brazil.
We Will Not Have a World Cup Without Brazil (Yet!)
The pre-tournament favourite is still on course to repeat the heroics of the Brazilian side of 1958, in becoming the first South American side since the days of Edson Arantes do Nascimento to win the World Cup on European soil after cruising past Serbia in their final group game.
The man of the match was Neymar Jr.
I cannot believe there are people in the world criticising him for showboating. The kid is an entertainer. Neymar is like the Harlem Globetrotters only he is in a team of one. Stop complaining and get back to burning spider webs.
The Paris St Germain ace had 119 touches of the ball, 21 more than any other player, and although he didn’t score he was instrumental in everything positive that Brazil did at the top end of the pitch.
Serbia knew that a win against the men in yellow would be enough to send them to the knockout stages for the first time in their history. And they were bullish.
“Why shouldn’t we beat Brazil.” Newcastle striker, Aleksandr Mitrovic, said to the press before the game.
I don’t know Aleksandr; maybe because your forward (you) is only capable of scoring once for every 14 shots or headers he has on goal.
Paulinho and Thiago Silva Win it For Brazil.
The five-time champions began the brightest in the Otkrytie Arena and were ahead on 36-minutes. Philippe Coutinho looks mustard in this side, and it was his sublime ball from the halfway line, that led to Paulinho scoring his eighth goal under Tite (only Neymar and Jesus have scored more = 10). The Barcelona ace has been involved in six goals in seven matches, and if they can keep him fit, man, the Brazilians will be painting hungry lips come World Cup Final day.
Serbia came out of the traps for the second half a much hungrier animal.
Mitrovic had two clear chances to do something about the scoreline but failed on each occasion. The first was a reactive header that hit the legs of a Brazilian defender before falling into the hands of Alisson. The second was a far post header that Mitrovic failed to attack like the Exocet missile you expect a man of his stature to be.
68-minutes and it was all over. Neymar swung a corner into the near post, and Thiago Silva put it away to give the Brazilians the comfort their play deserved. Beyond that point, Brazil toyed with the Serbs like a big fat bully does to the skinny poor kid in the playground, but could not enhance the scoreline.
Two at one end, and none at the back.
While I wax lyrical about the attacking riches, let’s remember they have only conceded five goals in 21 matches going into this tournament.
The Brazilians face Mexico in a South American clash on Monday night for a place in the quarter finals. It’s the 13th consecutive year that Brazil has leapt out of the group phase. Nobody else can match those incredible statistics.
Mladen Krstajić and the boys will be ruing the loss against Switzerland; a game where they had a one-goal lead, and a headlock on the opposition until the Swiss won it in the last minute.
In the other group game, Switzerland booked their passage into the knockout stages after a 2-2 draw with Costa Rica.
The Swiss opened the scoring against the run of play in the 31st minute when Blerim Dzemaili slammed the ball home from close range. Kendall Waston equalised with an excellent header early in the second half. Josip Drmic seemed to have won it for Switzerland when he put them ahead in the 88th minute, but Bryan Ruiz scored a last minute penalty to deliver the first point of the World Cup for the Costa Ricans.
Group E Table
1. Brazil – 7
2. Switzerland – 5
3. Serbia – 3
4. Costa Rica – 1
World Cup Winners
Brazil & Switzerland Odds
Brazil v Mexico
Switzerland v Sweden
Sweden – 11/5
To Win The World Cup