We take a look at three players who could be the game changers as Serbia go head to head against Brazil in their final Group E match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Brazil will clash against European nation Serbia in a winner-takes-all match for a spot in the Round of 16 at the Spartak Stadium on Wednesday.
The Selecao sit at the top of the Group E standings with four points from two games and will need a win or a draw to avoid crashing out in the first round of the World Cup. Coming into the game on the back of a last-ditch 2-0 win over Costa Rica, Tite’s men will be charged for the crucial encounter.
Serbia, who lost 2-1 to Switzerland last time out, will need a win if they are to go through to the knockouts. A draw would leave them dependent on the result of Switzerland’s game against Costa Rica to determine their future in Russia.
And ahead of what promises to a crunch clash between the two teams, we take a look at three players who could prove to be the match-winners on Wednesday.
The Barcelona playmaker has been by far the best player for the Samba Boys in the 21st edition of the World Cup in Russia so far. Coutinho has been at the heart of everything positive for Brazil in the tournament, scoring the wonder-strike against Switzerland in their opening game and backing it up with another goal in their victory over the Costa Ricans last week.
The 26-year-old’s movement and vision, coupled with the ability to score goals at crucial junctures make him an integral part of Tite’s plans. Coutinho has scored a goal in all three of his last international appearances for the South American giants and judging by his form so far in the competition, he will once again be crucial to Brazil’s chances of going through to the next round.
The 23-year-old striker had a brilliant game against Switzerland last time out, despite his team ending up on the losing side. And he will be hoping to carry the momentum from that match to the Spartak Stadium on Wednesday.
The Newcastle United centre-forward was the driving force behind the Eagles’ successful qualifying campaign on their way to the main event in Russia, leading the goalscoring charts with six strikes to his name.
Mitrovic scored his first goal of the World Cup with a fantastic headed effort against the Swiss and was a handful to deal with, with his pace, physical strength and aerial prowess. He has all the tools needed to be a nuisance for the Brazilian defensive duo of Thiago Silva and Joao Miranda on Wednesday. And if provided with proper service, he will make a difference to the outcome of the game.
The Brazilian talisman’s World Cup campaign is yet to take off in the proper sense, but the last minute goal against Costa Rica last week will have done his confidence a world of good, heading into the game against Serbia.
Neymar’s time in Russia so far has been surrounded by a lot of negativity over his on-field mannerisms and antics – screaming at referees, punching and kicking the ball around in frustration, which have drawn criticisms from all quarters.
While he has been made a target by the opposition players, which hasn’t allowed the 26-year-old to completely showcase his vast array of talents, it is time for him step up for the Selecao and deliver, as they look to avoid a disastrous exit in the group stage. And the goal he scored in the last game could act as the perfect springboard for him to bounce back and be the player we all know he can be.