SPORTS

World Cup: Brazil 1-1 Switzerland, Neymar takes center stage

Five-time World Cup champions Brazil began their 2018 World Cup campaign against Switzerland this evening.

Philippe Coutinho gave Brazil an early 1-0 lead over Switzerland with a beautiful, curling shot that bounced off the far post and in.

After the goal, Brazil indeed took its foot off the gas just slightly, content to control the game out of the back.

And just at the 50-minute mark, Steven Zuber scores with a header off a corner kick to make it 1-1. Zuber found himself in a pocket of space just on the six-yard line and winds up with a very straightforward finish past the Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson.

After missing out on a golden opportunity to extend their World Cup titles to six on home soil in 2014, the Brazil national team are set to begin the chase for fresh glory in Russia.

Starting lineups

Brazil (4-3-3 / 4-2-3-1)

Alisson; Danilo, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Coutinho, Paulinho; Willian, Jesus, Neymar

Switzerland (4-2-3-1)

Sommer; Rodriguez, Akanji, Schar, Lichsteiner; Xhaka, Behrami, Zuber, Dzemaili, Shaqiri; Seferovic

Brazil actually struggled in qualifying initially, earning just nine points from six games and sitting in sixth place (out of 10) in the South American qualifying group.

So the Brazilian federation fired its manager, Dunga, and brought in Tite, and the Brazilian squad started to look like the one we all know and love: going unbeaten and becoming the first national team to book a spot in Russia.

Switzerland’s route to Russia was a bit more fraught and featured quite a bit more controversy.

The Swiss finished behind Portugal in their European group, and went on to play Northern Ireland in a two-leg playoff.

The lone goal across both matches came after a dubious penalty call against Northern Ireland after a ball appeared to bounce off the back of defender Corry Evans.

Switzerland converted the penalty and advanced on a 1-0 aggregate score, leaving Northern Ireland fuming. Noted Switzerland supporter Roger Federer, though, found it amusing.

This is the fourth straight World Cup that Switzerland has qualified for, but it has not made it past the Round of 16 since 1954.

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