By DAVIDSON ABRAHAM, Middle East
DUBAI (Sundiata Post) – A late Casemiro strike saw Brazil book their passage through to the knockout stage of the World Cup as they snatched a 1-0 victory over Switzerland at Stadium 974. Having lost star forward Neymar to injury during their opening win against Serbia, the Selecao had been forced into a tactical reshuffle for their second match at Qatar 2022.
Despite a front three of Vinicius Junior, Richarlison and Raphinha, Tite’s side ultimately needed veteran midfielder Casemiro to see them through without their talisman in a tight Group G encounter. Victory in Doha means Brazil join defending champions France in the last 16, though defeat for Switzerland still leaves them in second place, with their fate in their own hands.
Operating with a wide offensive approach, Brazil had frequently harried their opponents but seldom left Yann Sommer seriously troubled between the posts before the interval. An increase in tempo after the break brought sharper opportunities, with Breel Embolo tormenting Alisson after a blocked clearance and Richarlison agonisingly close to a looping Vinicius ball. The latter looked to have put Brazil on top after a Swiss defensive lapse just after the hour mark, only for VAR to chalk his neat finish off for an offside call against team-mate Richarlison.
But Casemiro struck in the 83rd minute, catching a Rodrygo ball on the half-volley to leave a bulging mark in the net and keep the Selecao on course in their pursuit of a first World Cup triumph for two decades.
With their win, the Selecao have set another historic feat in this tournament, notching up their 17th unbeaten match in a row in the tournament group stage in a run stretching back to 1998.
Even without the Paris Saint-Germain star, there was more than enough talent to ignite a performance from Brazil – yet without his focal point in their attack, they spluttered throughout.
Vinicius was the most dangerous of their performers, but it was a chastening match for Richarlison and Raphinha, both of whom failed to show their best as they failed to find the net – legitimately – from their three combined shots.
Brazil and Switzerland will both wrap up their Group G campaigns on December 2, with simultaneous encounters against Cameroon and Serbia respectively.