Brazil’s Neymar, middle, Vinicius Junior, left, and Lucas Paqueta apply throughout a coaching session forward of their FIFA World Cup opener. AP
Favourites Brazil start their bid to win a sixth World Cup on Thursday after 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 will probably be cautious of a harmful Serbian facet when the groups meet at Lusail Stadium, particularly after seeing Argentina endure a shock defeat in opposition to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday on the similar venue and Germany lose to Japan on Wednesday.
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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, after they gained their fifth title in Japan.
Tite’s facet can depend on Neymar who has been in ominous type for Paris Saint-Germain, however the world’s most costly participant is surrounded by different excellent attackers able to share the burden, corresponding to Actual Madrid duo Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo.
“For my part these gamers will assist Neymar as a result of they will divide up the duty and create house 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 a terrific connection,” he added.
Nonetheless, 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 one on this planet, not even Brazil,” insisted Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic, who was hopeful that prolific Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic can 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 facet 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 crew 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 don’t assume we have to do something because the Swiss crew. We have to respect the principles and focus on our soccer, that’s 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 Outdated Trafford.
Cristiano Ronaldo trains at Qatar for FIFA World Cup. AP
It was introduced late on Tuesday that the 37-year-old would depart United with “quick impact” within the wake of an outspoken interview with a British broadcaster through which he mentioned he felt “betrayed” by the membership and had no respect for supervisor Erik ten Hag.
His membership type this season has been poor however he’s nonetheless hoping for a closing shot at World Cup glory and Portugal will probably be anticipated to start out with a victory at Stadium 974 by Doha’s waterfront in opposition to a Ghana facet 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 a terrific spirit, satisfied about what they need to do, what their targets are and life like concerning the challenges they’re dealing with,” Santos mentioned.
“Successful a contest of this magnitude is troublesome.”
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 have the ability to play for South Korea regardless of carrying 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 recreation.
“Son can play and can have the ability 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 trend in Wednesday’s late match as Michy Batshuayi’s purpose 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 overwhelmed finalists Croatia.
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