19/04/2024

Richarlison’s wonder-strike during Brazil’s 2-0 win against Serbia captured the awe of football fans around the globe. (Photo: @FIFAWorldCup Twitter)

For 60 minutes, Serbia appeared on track to keep out five-time winners Brazil, holding a compact and disciplined defensive line. However, some Richarlison magic off the back of sustained forward pressure separated the two sides at the final whistle, seeing Brazil open its World Cup account with a 2-0 victory. 

It was only a matter of time before Brazil found the back of the net in the second half, with the dam wall bursting a few minutes after the hour mark. Richarlison’s regulation tap in was a culmination of an attacking onslaught from Tite’s men, who discovered a more potent cutting edge following the main break. 

Whilst Brazil enjoyed the majority of possession and dictated proceedings in the first half, the number-one ranked team in world football only generated four shots on goal. This was mostly a reflection of Serbia’s well-organised defensive unit, which closed down space and forced the Brazilian’s to attack from wide areas.

Yet a more direct approach from Brazil immediately after half-time proved more effective, breaking the back of Serbia’s resolute defence. Suddenly, Dragan Stojkovic’s side were conceding more ground, surrendering deeper into their penalty box. 

Lacking an outlet further up the field, Serbia were offered no respite from a barrage of Brazil attacks. It ultimately became too much to handle, resulting in a comfortable final 30 minutes for one of the tournament’s heavyweights. 

After Brazil broke the deadlock, it continued to be one-way traffic, with a second goal destined to eventuate. What followed was a moment of pure class.

A rampant Vinicius Jr exploited space on the left-hand side before finding Richarlison in the box with a well-directed cross. Taking a sublime first touch, the Spurs attacker flicked the ball into the air, acrobatically launching himself and crisply striking a volley into the bottom corner. 

The beauty of the strike sent Brazil’s adoring fans into raptures, reminding the football world of the supreme skill and quality possessed by the South Americans. Richarlison’s brace also marked his first ever World Cup goals, rewarding the faith shown in him by Brazil’s coaching staff who gave him the nod ahead of Gabriel Jesus. 

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More goals could have easily been scored in the later stages of the encounter. A thumping Casemiro strike from outside the box hit the upright, whilst further attempts on target drew saves from Serbia’s goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic. 

In the end, Brazil earned themselves a well-deserved three points, ultimately registering 22 shots (eight on target) across the entirety of the match. 

From Serbia’s perspective, its ability to keep Brazil at bay for just over 60 minutes will likely be pleasing, especially given the attacking quality of the opposition. However, it’s an all too familiar tale for Serbia, having lost to Brazil at the 2018 World Cup also by 2 goals to nil. 

Serbia were unable to threaten Brazil’s goal enough throughout the 90 minutes, failing to record a single shot on target. Main man Aleksandar Mitrovic was rendered redundant by Thiago Silva and co, and also lacked decent supply from Serbia’s midfielders and wide players. 

Meanwhile, the experienced Dusan Tadic faded out of the game in the second half, unable to utilise his left boot to deliver balls into the penalty area. Serbia’s best avenue to goal was primarily going to be through crosses and set pieces leading into the clash. However, this didn’t come to fruition on the night.

Where to next?

Brazil will be looking to continue its winning ways when it faces a Switzerland outfit which also tasted victory in its opening Group H game. Meanwhile, Serbia will be aiming to bounce back with a win against Cameroon. 

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