Brazil looked all set to party at one stage but ended up trapped in Switzerland’s intricate defensive web, with a 1-1 draw a fair result as the two sides made their Group E debuts at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.
Having dominated possession but without creating clear-cut chances, the tournament favourites took the lead after 20 minutes thanks to the kind of strike Philippe Coutinho has become known for: a spectacular curling drive from outside the box that curled right into the far corner of Yann Sommer’s net.
It looked as if the Rostov night would have a samba beat, but the Swiss had other ideas. Maintaining their intensity, they conjured up an equalizer just after the restart, with Steven Zuber nodding home from inside the six-yard box. The five-time world champions promptly lost their poise, and though they created some late chances, both their finishing and their play was slightly off key.
Brazil were unable to impose their style against very physical opponents. Neymar and his team-mates endured a tough evening and despite Coutinho’s early strike it was not until the end of the game that their best chances came. That said, A Seleção never expected it to be an easy night.
Switzerland’s fast start to the second half took everyone by surprise and got them back into the game following Brazil’s impressive first-half display. Their continuous pressing prevented the South Americans from finding their rhythm again, and their showing after the restart will have the Swiss fans hoping there is more to come.
Philippe Coutinho was Brazil’s brightest spark on what was a challenging evening for his side. His sumptuous strike is sure to figure among the goals of the tournament.
Valon Behrami is the first Switzerland player in history to appear at four World Cups: Germany 2006, South Africa 2010, Brazil 2014 and now Russia 2018. Kiki Antenen’s record of eight appearances in world finals matches was also equalled tonight, though not by Behrami. Stephan Lichtsteiner was the man pulling level with that mark.
What’s next Brazil-Costa Rica, Group E, 22 June, Saint Petersburg Serbia-Switzerland, Group E, 22 June, Kaliningrad