Coutinho sparkles but Brazil don’t light fire

Amol Gokhale
Monday, 18 June 2018

Large sea of Brazil fans in Rostov-On-Don Arena left disappointed after Brazil’s 1-1 draw against Switzerland

ROSTOV-ON-DON: Philippe Coutinho produced a moment of magic midway through in the first-half for Brazil but that was the only spark Samba boys could produce in Rostov-On-Don as they were held to 1-1 draw by Switzerland in their Group 'E 'match on Sunday night.

Brazil, the pre-tournament favourites, became another big name at the World Cup after Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Germany to have failed to win their opening fixture.

Tite’s side conceded the equaliser early in the second half after a lax defending for a corner as Steven Zuber headed home from a close range. Brazilian players claimed for a push from behind by Zuber on Miranda, and the replays showed that Brazil players might have a case, but taking into consideration the amount of pushing and shoving that goes on inside the box for set-piece, the referee's decision to allow Swiss an equaliser wouldn't make much of the ruckus.

NEYMAR KEPT QUIET
One might remember the flamboyance of former England captain David Beckham and his hairstyles, it was something similar with the 26-year old Paris Saint Germain man.

Neymar, donning a blonde spaghetti hairstyle, started the game for the first time since his ankle injury back in February.

Valon Behrami, a 33-year-old veteran, was up to Neymar's case till he was subbed off in the 72nd minute of the match and did not allow the world's costliest player to cause havoc in Swiss backline, hacking him down getting better of him in duels, and on one or two occasions, outpacing him as well.

Vladimir Petkovic side made full use of their sheer physical superiority compared to Latin Americans’ and used tactical fouls to good effect. They gave away 19 fouls compared to 12 by Brazil, of which 10 were only on Neymar.

COUTINHO PULLS THE STRINGS
It was a day when Neymar was supposed to take the centre stage, especially after the tragic end to his 2014 World Cup back in a home, but it wasn't the night for the former Barcelona man, but the current Barca man, who pulled strings for Selecao.

He provided a much-needed spark and creativity going forward, making things happen in tandem with Willian and Gabriel Jesus but failed to break down the resolute defence of Switzerland.

In the second-half, after Tite's men conceded the equaliser, there was a phase when they just sat back and absorbed the pressure from their counterparts and it looked like Switzerland would go on to score the winner. 

As the game inclined towards the draw, Neymar's influence on the game further diminished and his miserable night was compounded when he failed to hit the target from a close-range effort and wasted free-kick opportunities.

In the dying seconds of the game, when it looked like the world's most expensive player will have the last laugh as his cross from another free-kick found Renato Augusto, but the midfielders shot was parried away by Fabian Sacher to earn the Swiss side a deserved one point.

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