Confident success against Serbia

    Brazil’s ball artists started their quest for a sixth World Cup title with hard work and a magic goal. In their first tournament game in Qatar, the “Seleção” won 2-0 (0-0) against Serbia on Thursday evening, also thanks to a gala performance by Richarlison. First, the attacker from Tottenham Hotspur dusted off from close range (62nd minute), then he put the ball in front of himself for a side kick (73rd) and completed a volley. After this fantastic goal, the 88,103 spectators in Lusail Stadium went wild.

    The line-up already showed what kind of offensive power the Brazilians have. Neymar, Vinicius Júnior, Raphinha, Richarlison and Lucas Paquetá – five exceptional players with a clear attacking focus were in the starting XI. But if something went forward, it wasn’t initially through their individual class, but through the interface. Otherwise the compact defense of the Serbs could hardly be overcome. Two ingenious vertical passes from Casemiro and captain Thiago Silva were just about defended by the Europeans in the first round.

    Likewise the attempt by Neymar (13th), who wanted to flick a corner into the goal. So it initially remained with the repeated attempts to break through the Serbian bulwark. Raphinha (35′) had the best chance to do so, and he was already through after a fine combination – but failed because of goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic.

    World Cup 2022: The most valuable players per nation

    Akram Afif | Qatar | Al Sadd SC | Market value: €4 million

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    Squad value: €14.9m

    Keylor Navas | Costa Rica | PSG | Market value: €5 million

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    Squad value: €18.75m

    Sultan Al-Ghannam | Saudi Arabia | Al-Nassr FC | Market value: €2.5 million

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    Squad value: €25.2m

    Matthew Ryan | Australia | FC Copenhagen | Market value: €5 million

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    Squad value: €37.3m

    Mehdi Taremi | Iran | FC Porto | Market value: €20 million

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    Squad value: €59.53m

    Ellyes Skhiri | Tunisia | 1. FC Cologne | Market value: €13 million

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    Squad value: €62.4m

    Moises Caicedo | Ecuador | Brighton | Market value: €13 million

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    Squad value: €146.5m

    Daichi Kamada | Japan | Eintracht Frankfurt | Market value: €30 million

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    Squad value: €154m

    Frank Anguissa | Cameroon | SSC Napoli | Market value: €38 million

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    Squad value: €155m

    Ben Davis | Wales | Tottenham | Market value: €20 million*

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    Squad value: €160.15m
    *plus Brennan Johnson (Nottingham; MV €20m)

    Heung Min Son | South Korea | Tottenham | Market value: €70 million

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    Squad value: €164.48m

    Edson Alvarez | Mexico | ajax | Market value: €35 million

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    Squad value: €176.1m

    Alphonso Davies | Canada | Bayern Munich | Market value: €70 million

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    Squad value: €187.3m

    Thomas Partey | Ghana | Arsenal | Market value: €38 million

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    Squad value: €216.9m

    Kalidou Koulibaly | Senegal | Chelsea | Market value: €35 million

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    Squad value: €229.5m

    Achraf Hakimi | Morocco | PSG | Market value: €65 million

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    Squad value: €241.1m

    Robert Lewandowski | Poland | FC Barcelona | Market value: €45 million

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    Squad value: €255.6m

    Christian Pulisic | United States | Chelsea | Market value: €38 million

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    Squad value: €277.4m

    Manuel Akanji | Switzerland | Manchester City | Market value: €30 million

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    Squad value: €281m

    Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg | Denmark | Tottenham | Market value: €45 million

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    Squad value: €353m

    Dušan Vlahovic | Serbia | Juventus | Market value: €80 million

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    Squad value: €359.5m

    Josko Gvardiol | Croatia | RB Leipzig | Market value: €60 million

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    Squad value: €377 million

    Federico Valverde | Uruguay | Madrid | Market value: €100 million

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    Squad value: €449.7m

    Kevin De Bruyne | Belgium | Manchester City | Market value: €80 million

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    Squad value: €563.2m

    Matthijs de Ligt | Netherlands | Bayern Munich | Market value: €70 million

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    Squad value: €587.25m

    Lautaro Martinez | Argentina | Inter | Market value: €75 million

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    Squad value: €645.2m

    Peter | Spain | FC Barcelona | Market value: €100 million

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    Squad value: €877m

    Yamal Musiala | Germany | Bayern Munich | Market value: €100 million

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    Squad value: €885.5m

    Rafael Leao | Portugal | Milan | Market value: €85 million

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    Squad value: €937m

    Kylian Mbappe | France | PSG | Market value: €160 million

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    Squad value: €997.5m

    Vinicius Jr. | Brazil | Madrid | Market value: €120 million

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    Squad value: €1.14bn

    Phil Foden | UK | Manchester City | Market value: €110 million

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    Squad value: €1.26bn

    Serbia limited itself to what Serbia is particularly good at: being unpleasant. The “Seleção” dominated the game, but they didn’t get anything for free. Without the injured ex-Frankfurt player Filip Kostic, the Serbs lacked the power to go forward. Contrary to what was announced, they hardly took place offensively. But in the game against the ball, coach Dragan Stojkovic’s team put everything into play. They tugged, pulled, straddled and fought: if the Brazilians wanted to find a gap, they had to fit extremely well. Or hope for mistakes by the Serbs.

    In the second half, not even a minute had been played when exactly that happened. Nemanja Gudelj lost the ball just before his own penalty area, which landed again at Raphinha – but again the FC Barcelona attacker could not get past the keeper. But Brazil drew closer. A powerful long-range shot from left-back Alex Sandro (60′) went to the inside of the post. But then Milinkovic-Savic blocked an attempt from Vinicius Júnior right at Richarlison’s feet and the Tottenham striker converted from close range.

    On the other hand, there wasn’t much to see from Neymar. The Paris Saint-Germain superstar struggled, but sometimes he got bogged down in a dribble, sometimes he failed to receive the ball. The 30-year-old also decided too late several times for the last pass. But that didn’t matter that evening, because others took over the direction with the Brazilians. Above all the strong Casemiro, who directed the midfield of the “Seleção”. And of course Richarlison.

    13 players with 10 goals or more: Record goalscorers at World Cups

    13 Grzegorz Lato (Spain) – 10 goals in 20 appearances

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    12 Thomas Muller (Germany) – 10 goals in 17 appearances

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    11 Teófilo Cubillas (Peru) – 10 goals in 13 appearances

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    9 Gabriel Batistuta (Argentina) – 10 goals in 12 appearances

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    9 Gary Lineker (England) – 10 goals in 12 appearances

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    8 Helmut Rahn (Germany) – 10 goals in 10 appearances

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    7 Jurgen Klinsmann (Germany) – 11 goals in 17 appearances

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    6 Sándor Kocsis (Hungary) – 11 goals in 5 appearances

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    5 Pelé (Brazil) – 12 goals in 14 appearances

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    4 Just Fontaine (France) – 13 goals in 6 appearances

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    3 Gerd Muller (Germany) – 14 goals in 13 appearances

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    2 Ronaldo (Brazil) – 15 goals in 19 appearances

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    1 Miroslav Klose (Germany) – 16 goals in 24 appearances

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    When Vinicius Júnior dribbled down the left flank again, he found the 25-year-old striker in the centre. He put the ball up himself, turned to the side – and then hammered it fantastically into the net with a volleyball. Neymar had to leave the field with around ten minutes remaining after his ankle was damaged in a tackle. On the bench, the PSG star buried his face in his jersey, leaving Brazil fans frowning.

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