Favourites Brazil start their bid to win a sixth World Cup on Thursday once they tackle Serbia, whereas Cristiano Ronaldo will hope to place his acrimonious departure from Manchester United behind him as Portugal enter the fray in opposition to Ghana. Brazil can be cautious of a harmful Serbian aspect when the groups meet at Lusail Stadium, particularly after seeing Argentina endure a shock defeat in opposition to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday on the identical venue and Germany lose to Japan on Wednesday.
The Brazilians have arrived in Qatar hoping for a repeat of what occurred on the final World Cup held in Asia twenty years in the past, once they gained their fifth title in Japan.
Tite’s aspect can depend on a Neymar who has been in ominous kind for Paris Saint-Germain, however the world’s costliest participant is surrounded by different excellent attackers able to share the burden, comparable to Actual Madrid duo Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo.
“For my part, these gamers will assist Neymar as a result of they’ll divide up the duty and create area for him,” mentioned veteran Brazil skipper Thiago Silva.
“The environment within the squad is tremendous wholesome. The combination of younger gamers and extra skilled ones creates an ideal connection,” he added.
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Nevertheless, Serbia seem a extra harmful proposition than 4 years in the past, when additionally they confronted Brazil within the group stage however misplaced 2-0 and went dwelling within the first spherical.
“We’re afraid of no person on this planet, not even Brazil,” insisted Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic, who was hopeful that prolific Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic could be match for the Group G opener.
Portugal ‘completely targeted’
Switzerland and Cameroon kick off Thursday’s motion in the identical part at Al Janoub Stadium at 1:00 PM (1000 GMT).
Swiss skipper Granit Xhaka indicated his aspect wouldn’t copy Germany’s mouth-covering protest in opposition to FIFA’s stance on rainbow-themed armbands.
The Swiss had been one of many seven European groups whose captains had been to put on the armband in help of LGBTQ folks on the event in Qatar, the place homosexuality is illegitimate.
Germany made the gesture as they lined up for his or her group photograph earlier than their shock 2-1 defeat to Japan after they deserted plans for skipper Manuel Neuer to put on the armband following threats of on-field disciplinary motion by FIFA.
“I do not assume we have to do something because the Swiss group. We have to respect the principles and focus on our soccer, that is all I intend to do,” Xhaka mentioned on Wednesday.
Ronaldo’s preparation for what is unquestionably his final World Cup has been overshadowed by his bitter departure from Previous Trafford.
It was introduced late on Tuesday that the 37-year-old would depart United with “rapid impact” within the wake of an outspoken interview with a British broadcaster by which he mentioned he felt “betrayed” by the membership and had no respect for supervisor Erik ten Hag.
His membership kind this season has been poor however he’s nonetheless hoping for a closing shot at World Cup glory and Portugal can be anticipated to start out with a victory at Stadium 974 by Doha’s waterfront in opposition to a Ghana aspect who sit 61st within the FIFA rankings.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos claimed that Ronaldo’s break up from United had not been mentioned by the gamers.
“The gamers are completely targeted, with an ideal spirit, satisfied about what they need to do, what their aims are, and sensible concerning the challenges they’re going through,” Santos mentioned.
“Profitable a contest of this magnitude is tough.”
Son to play for Korea
Portugal and Ghana are in Group H with Uruguay and South Korea, who meet in Thursday’s different match.
Son Heung-min will be capable to play for South Korea regardless of sporting a masks after facial surgical procedure.
The Tottenham Hotspur attacker and Korean skipper had surgical procedure earlier this month after struggling a fracture round his left eye throughout a UEFA Champions League sport.
“Son can play and can be capable to play,” mentioned coach Paulo Bento.
Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano scored as Japan got here from behind to beat Germany in Group E, whereas Spain began their marketing campaign with a 7-0 demolition of Costa Rica with Ferran Torres scoring twice for the 2010 World Cup winners.
Belgium additionally began in successful style in Wednesday’s late match as Michy Batshuayi’s aim gave them a 1-0 victory over Canada, for whom Alphonso Davies had a penalty saved.
Group F rivals Morocco drew 0-0 with 2018 crushed finalists Croatia.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV employees and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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