Tite will be hoping for a better performance from his Brazil side as they face Costa Rica in Group E of the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Friday.

Brazil came into the World Cup as one of the favourites for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. But, their first match in Russia was a disappointment. Switzerland handed Tite & co. a rude awakening, with Brazil managing just a single point from the game.

Costa Rica, on the other hand, were lucky not to lose by a large margin. Serbia had multiple chances to pile on the misery, but managed to get just one past Keylor Navas. The shock team of the 2014 World Cup would hope to resume their giant killing ways as they meet Brazil knowing that a loss here could see them being knocked out of the event in Russia.

The two teams will be aware of the magnitude of the tie and it will be interesting to see who between Brazil and Costa Rica come out on top. We take a closer look at the two squads.

Team News & Tactics

Brazil

Fred doesn’t seem to have recovered from his injury sustained in training. But, Tite’s problems have more than doubled, with Neymar also injured during training. Both Fred and Neymar are unlikely to start the match against Costa Rica, which could provide other players with the opportunity to impress.

If Neymar is unable to start, he will definitely be an option from the bench, with Roberto Firmino likely to be promoted to the starting eleven. In case Tite wants a more balanced lineup, he could spring Philippe Coutinho up in attack, with Renato Augusto coming into the midfield.

The entire lineup is likely to be the same, with Paulinho, Casemiro and Coutinho forming the midfield three. Tite will hope for a better display from Gabriel Jesus, who was non-existent against Switzerland, especially if Neymar is to be on the bench.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Danilo, Thiago Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Jesus, Firmino

Costa Rica

The narrow loss to Serbia did serve up many things for Oscar Ramirez to address. While the defence needs to be tightened, there is unlikely to be any change in personnel at the back. The only change in the lineup might come in the form of Christian Bolanos, who looked bright in his cameo off the bench.

Ramirez could promote Bolanos to the starting eleven, with the winger likely to take up the position alongside Bryan Ruiz behind the striker, in place of Johan Venegas.

Bryan Ruiz was largely ineffective against Serbia and will look to be more involved in the thick of things on Friday. Apart from Bolanos, the other possible change could see Joel Campbell replace Marco Urena, after the Arsenal loanee’s sprightly performance off the bench.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Calvo; Ruiz, Bolanos; Joel Campbell

Key Stats

1. This will be the third meeting at the World Cup between Brazil and Costa Rica, with the Brazilians emerging victorious on both the previous occasions.

2. Brazil are winless in three matches at the World Cup now, their longest run since 1978, wherein they went four games without a win.

3. Costa Rica have converted just one of their last 31 attempts at the World Cup. (1 goal in last 31 shots)

4. Neymar was fouled 10 times by Switzerland in Brazil’s opening game – the highest amount of fouls against a single player after Alan Shearer was fouled 11 times in 1998 by Tunisia.

5. Brazil have not lost a game wherein Philippe Coutinho has scored, winning 8 of their 9 matches, with the only draw coming in the 1-1 result against Switzerland in their opening game of the 2018 World Cup.

Player to Watch

Gabriel Jesus

Jesus will be looking to put his Switzerland display behind him. (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)

Jesus will be looking to put his Switzerland display behind him. (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

Brazil’s attack looked toothless against Switzerland. Their goal was a piece of magic from Coutinho, barring which the front three failed to muster up any real goal-worthy chances. Gabriel Jesus was absolutely non-existent in leading the Brazilian attack and it is something the Manchester City striker will be hoping to correct against Costa Rica.

Jesus’s story has been inspiring. But, the striker must now rise above the storyline and deliver something that is worthy of showcasing the progress he has made in the gap of 4 years.

Prediction

Brazil 2-1 Costa Rica

Given the defensive frailties of both the sides, either nation will struggle to record a clean sheet on Friday. Neymar’s potential absence from the starting eleven could provide a spring in the footsteps of the Costa Rican squad. But, Brazil should have enough quality to overcome the threat of Bryan Ruiz & co.

Also, if need be, Neymar will be an option from the bench. But, should the PSG attacker not start the match, there is unlikely to be a need for his introduction, at least that is what Tite would be hoping for. We recommend a narrow win for the Samba Boys on Friday to register their first win of the 2018 World Cup.

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