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After 4 years, Brazil dominates Serbia with a more balanced attack and a professional striker


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Brazil and Serbia, World Cup group stage, 2-0 on the scoreboard. Four years later, history repeats itself with the same outcome, but a very different plot.

Coach Tite’s team debuted in Qatar with a more balanced formation compared to the one they had faced the Serbs in 2018. They largely dominated the confrontation, frequented the opponent’s field more, attacked on both sides and won with goals typical of a striker.

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Richarlison defined the score finishing plays generated by the left side, by Vinícius Júnior. At the opposite end, Raphinha also managed to create good situations. Neymar, in turn, articulated and came from behind. The quartet sums up the new way of playing for the national team.

Data analyzed by Sheet show that the number 9 had a more characteristic participation of a man in the area, in comparison with the former owner of the position. In the previous duel, Gabriel Jesus circled the field, further back and falling on the left. He only took one shot on goal, against three for his successor.

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The movement to the left was not just a coincidence. Four years ago, Neymar called the game to that region. He acted as a sharp winger, in a formation based on the 4-3-3 scheme, accelerating towards the area.

In the new configuration, it is Vinicius who occupies the flank and advances to the back. The number 10 still appears there frequently, but floats more laterally and acts as a point guard. In Qatar, Neymar only submitted three times, two of them from the middle. In Russia, he had taken seven shots on goal, six from inside the penalty area.

The average positioning of the selection in this debut showed a more aggressive scheme, with three professional strikers in addition to Neymar. Something closer to a 4-1-4-1, with Lucas Paquetá approaching Casemiro in defensive actions.

The map of Brazilian actions shows that, in 2018, Brazil had more difficulties entering the opponent’s field and spent more time exchanging balls from one side to the other in the defensive sector.

With both sides working well this time, Raphinha filled out the attack more than William, holder of the last Cup. The new right winger appeared twice in condition to swing the net, both inside the area. The predecessor had not taken a shot on goal for four years.

Overall, the data reinforce the broad domain of selection. There were 22 submissions given and 5 suffered, against 14 and 10, respectively, in the meeting four years ago.

Of the 11 starters who started the duel against the Serbs in 2018, four were again in the formation that entered the field in Qatar: goalkeeper Alisson, defender Thiago Silva and midfielder Casemiro, in addition to Neymar.

Also counting the activated reserves, Gabriel Jesus completes the list of five who participated in the two matches. He was the starter in the attack, and now he came off the bench in the final stage to replace Richarlison.

Now the holder of the right wing, Danilo had started the 2018 World Cup as the owner of the position, but was injured right away in his debut and gave way to reserve Fagner from the second game on.

The duel between Brazil and Serbia for the 2018 World Cup took place in the third round of the group stage. The victory was built with a goal in each half. The first by defensive midfielder Paulinho, coming from behind, and the second by defender Thiago Silva, with a header from a corner kick.

The European team, in turn, had seven repeat cards this year. In addition to defenders Milenkovic and Veljkovic, midfielder Milinkovic-Savic and forwards Zivkocvic, Tadic and Mitrovic, all starters, winger Radonjic was also activated, once again coming off the bench.

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