In a game that saw Brazil waste a half-dozen sure-goal opportunities, the Canarinha were still able to defeat the Swiss team by 1-0 in Group G play of Qatar’s 2022 World Cup. The scorer, to give you a feel for what was happening to the myriad Brazilian strikers on the pitch, was none other than defensive midfield specialist Casemiro. The goal came at the 83rd minute.
The Swiss played in their usual skilled defensive shell and still managed a couple of good looks at the Brazilian goal yet provided no real scoring danger. They had six shots and none on goal. But the Swiss did make it tough on the pre-tournament favorites who had to elaborate so many cumbersome offensive options that many simply broke down before seeing any daylight. In fact, possession was only 54%-46% in favor of the Brazilians.
Yet, the likes of Richarlison, Vinicius Jr. (multiple times), Rodrygo, Raphina, and Anthony missed goals they were regularly scoring for their clubs just a few weeks ago. The Brazilians had thirteen shots and five on goal with only one score.
The game was decided by substitutes as each coach took to their bench to find the missing ingredient to the formula. For Tite’s Brazil, it was the introduction of Rodrygo whose personality and spirited play ignited both his teammates and the fans and soon brought about wave after wave of attacking forays until Casemiro’s goal finally clinched the match.
The highlight of the match was the officiating by Salvadorian CONCACAF referee Ivan Barton and his two confederation partners David Moran (El Salvador) and Zachari Zeegelaar (Suriname). Barton refereed in Japan’s 2-1 win over Germany. He whistled 27 fouls but only pulled out two yellows. He was quick to whistle all fouls and made sure nothing untoward occurred by nipping rough play in the bud from the fourth minute on when Vinicius Jr. was stopped from simply turning around with the ball with a foul that sent him flying out of bounds.
With six points and a plus-four-goal differential, and only Cameroon left to play, Brazil looks poised to move on in first place and meet the second-place finisher of Group H. But two things emerged for the Selecao: first, that they sorely miss Neymar’s creativity (no surprise), and second that even without him the solidity of the team in defense and the work rate of the midfield provide their offensive weapons plenty of opportunity to create on their own and score against even the most entrenched defenses. At this early stage in the tournament, the Brazilians are playing like the World Cup’s top team.
In the first of the four games scheduled for today, we saw six goals scored by six different players. It all started when Cameroon opened the scoring at the 29th minute only to see Serbia respond with three consecutive scores at the 45+1, 45+3, and 53rd minutes. Then in the second half, Cameroon came roaring back and tallied at the 63rd and 66th minutes to settle the match’s scorecard. Nevertheless, it was such an open match that both sides had several chances to make it their win only to have a defensive block or a gaff by the player on offense make the difference in the outcome. At the game’s end, both teams have a chance to progress but only Serbia seems to have the real opportunity when they play Switzerland in their last Group G game. Cameroon play Brazil in their last game.
In the second match of the day, Ghana defeated South Korea 3-2, putting themselves in the position of playing for progression in their match against Uruguay—as if that meeting needed any added intensity. The game began with Ghana taking a two-goal lead in the first half with goals coming in at the 24th and 34th minutes. But the South Koreas came back with two goals from Cho Gue-Sung, at the 58th and 61st minutes before Mohammed Kundus scored his second and deciding goal at the 68th minute. South Korea would have to beat Portugal and hope Uruguay beats Ghana to progress while Ghana can move on by beating Uruguay.
Photo: Brazil’s Casemiro, Dreamstime.com ID: 167540803, by Zeytun Images.