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Five-time champion Brazil opened its 2018 World Cup campaign on a disappointing note as it settled for a 1-1 draw with Switzerland in their Sunday’s Group E showdown at Rostov Arena. It was a rousing start for Brazil, as it took a 1-0 lead behind Philippe Coutinho’s signature curler in the 20th minute. However, Steven Zuber tied the game for the Swiss with a header five minutes into the second half.
Brazil had several chances to notch three points, but out of their 20 attempts, only four were shots on goal. With the draw, Brazil ended its nine-game winning run in the opening match of a World Cup since 1978. Switzerland, for its part, remained unbeaten in opening matches at the FIFA World Cup since 1966.
The tie gave Brazil a point, enough for a tie for second in Group E with Switzerland. Serbia currently leads Group E with three points following its 1-0 win over Costa Rica.
Switzerland Roughs Up Neymar
Brazil superstar Neymar was expected to make his mark following his return from a foot injury. However, Switzerland roughed up Neymar, who took 10 fouls in all. The count was the highest for a single player at a World Cup beginning in 1998.
Valon Behrami stymied Neymar all throughout the match, not allowing him to have clear-cut scoring opportunities. A battle-tested veteran, Behrami made history by becoming the first Swiss player to play in four different World Cup finals. Behrami also played in the 2006, 2010, and 2014 editions of the World Cup.
Switzerland Spoils Neymar’s Return
With Neymar’s return, Brazil has high expectations entering its match against Switzerland. The Brazilians are hoping that they could erase the memory of their 7-1 loss to Germany four years ago in their home soil.
Coutinho gave Brazil a reason to celebrate when he made a curler from 20 yards out in the 20th minute to put Brazil ahead. Neymar tried to make a difference, but he was consistently harassed by Behrami, giving him no scoring opportunity.
Five minutes into the second half, Zuber knotted the count with a header that slipped past Alisson and stunned the Brazilians. Coutinho had a chance to salvage the win for the Brazilians, but his attempt was denied by Fabian Schar late in the match.
Brazil will go for its first win in the group stage against Costa Rica on June 22 at St. Petersburg. Switzerland and Serbia will square off also on June 22 at Kaliningrad.
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