Brazil need to call on inner toughness against a determined Serbia side

by Chloe Beresford / 27 June 2018, 09:41

Despite a superb qualifying campaign from Brazil, the highly-fancied team have so far failed to display their full potential in this World Cup and face a tough match versus Serbia on Wednesday with a spot in the knockout stages still not yet confirmed.

A much-improved second-half performance from Tite’s men eventually saw the Canarinhos clinch two goals in injury time versus Costa Rica to clinch a 2-0 victory in the second round of matches, but must earn at least a point in the final group E match in order to be sure of securing their place in the last 16.

Meanwhile Serbia have showed promise under novice boss Mladen Krstajic, but a last-gasp defeat to Switzerland in their previous fixture now means that they have a mountain to climb if they wish to progress. With three points already secured versus the now eliminated Costa Rica, Serbia must beat the five-time tournament winners in order to be certain of qualification, with a draw potentially enough in the following scenario.

Should Switzerland lose by one goal and Serbia earn a point, the place in the next stage of the competition will go to goals scored. If both teams finish with identical records, then Switzerland would go through on head-to-head. In the eventuality that Switzerland are beaten by two goals, they can qualify only if Serbia lose.

All this means that Tite will have to ensure that Brazil are on their guard from the outset as their opponents will need to come out on the attack, with Newcastle striker Aleksandar Mitrovic a real physical threat. The number nine scored a hat-trick in Serbia’s final warm-up match versus Bolivia and fired in the opening goal versus Switzerland and is available at 7/1 to score again in this match with Betfair.

Brazil will be missing supersub Douglas Costa who has been ruled out with a thigh strain, but nevertheless are looking like they may just be finding their form. Neymar (10/3 to score first or last with Bet365) opened his World Cup account versus Costa Rica, and Philippe Coutinho has bagged three goals in his last three games for Brazil, a good bet at 7/4 to back also with Bet365.

The Barcelona man was full of praise for his Coach after the final whistle in that match, highlighting just how tenacious his side were versus their Central American opponents. “It was a tough game as we expected. We showed good patience to play until the last minute where we were rewarded with those two goals,” admitted Coutinho to reporters after the final whistle.

"We know the responsibility is huge when you're playing for Brazil. Emotionally, the professor (Tite) always highlights the mental strength we need from the start to the end.”

They may just have to call on that inner toughness once again versus a determined Serbia on Wednesday as it is now time for Brazil to show and prove what they are truly made of.

Prediction: Serbia 1-2 Brazil

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