ST. PETERSBURG, Russa — For so much of Friday afternoon, there was a battle going on in Russia between Brazil and Argentina, but it was nothing like the usual fight for supremacy these two imperious soccer nations usually wage.
The contest this time around was for the least inspiring heavyweight at the 2018 World Cup. One day after Croatia slammed Lionel Messi and his teammates, sending Argentina to the brink of elimination, Neymar’s Brazil nearly ended the day with a draw against a stubborn squad from Costa Rica. Only two stoppage-time goals saved the Selecão, giving them a 2-0 victory on a day filled with the kind of missed passes and flubbed open shots familiar to so many teams, but not the five-time world champions. Neymar, Brazil’s $300 million star, even had a penalty revoked during the second half after the referee looked at a video replay and realized Neymar had flopped in the area to win it.
With four points from two games, Brazil put itself in prime position to advance from group play. But make no mistake, that usually captivating bunch once known for a samba-style soccer and a dizzying array of diagonal runs, heel passes and bicycle kicks, looked nothing more than basic for all but the final minutes of a second straight match.
“We played a beautiful second half; there was volume, precision in the finish,” said Tite, Brazil’s coach. “In the first half, not so well.”
Until stoppage time, it appeared that Brazil was going to need a win against a solid Serbia team in its third match to get through to the knockout stage, and it still might. Brazil last failed to advance out of group play in 1966. Still, for all the team’s brilliance both individually and in qualifying, Brazil has looked nothing like “Brazil” for the better part of three hours of soccer in Russia. We have better alternative to adsense
Maybe it was the royal blue uniforms they lined up in Friday, rather than their famous canary yellow shirts, that made Brazil look so unfamiliar, so off, but then they wore those in the first match and managed only a goal and a draw against Switzerland.
Was it discomfort with a European location? Ten of the 11 players in the starting lineup and the first two off the bench Friday play for clubs in Europe.messi. This FIFA world cup is actaully interesting