Brazil’s players insist the 7-1 humiliation to Germany at the 2014 World Cup has now been forgotten, but there is no doubt that Tite’s 2018 squad will be aiming to set the record straight in Russia.
Only six of the class of 2014 – including Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar – have survived in an exciting side that boasts attacking riches, as well as a sturdier defence, which saw the five-time winners qualify for the tournament with four games to spare.
Switzerland manager Vladimir Petkovic has made no secret of the fact that his resilient side, who are ranked sixth in the world, will be happy to ruin the spectacle against their toughest Group F opponents.
The Swiss, who had to settle for a play-off place despite winning nine of their 10 qualifying matches, held Spain to a 1-1 draw in their build up to the tournament and most recently defeated Japan 2-0.
Brazil forward Neymar will be fit to face Switzerland after making his first start since February in their final World Cup warm-up match with Austria.
The 26-year-old required an operation on a fractured foot and has played just 129 minutes since – scoring twice.
Switzerland, who have lost only once in their last 22, have key men Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri available.
Arsenal’s Xhaka was said to be “very relieved” after suffering an injury scare in training at the end of May.
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Brazil defender Thiago Silva:
“After three months, and having played just a game and a half, he [Neymar] is already playing at a high level. Nobody expected that. Not even him.
“The 7-1 is no longer in our heads, we have the level to be world champions again and re-write our history.”
Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic:
“We’re not here to make a lovely match but to win it.
“We’ll try to be as organised as possible, you need to provoke a team like Brazil into making mistakes so you can create opportunities, that’s the mentality you need to have because we’ll need to score one or two goals to win the game.”
- Brazil and Switzerland’s only previous meeting at a World Cup finals ended in a 2-2 draw on Brazilian soil in 1950.
- Brazil have defeated Switzerland just three times in eight matches (D3 L2), scoring 10 goals and conceding eight.
- Brazil have won the World Cup more times than any other team, lifting the trophy in 25% of the tournaments played so far (five out of 20).
- Brazil are unbeaten in their last 12 World Cup group games, winning 10, their last defeat in the group phase dating back to 1998 against Norway. In fact, Brazil have topped their group (first round) in every single World Cup since 1982 and last failed to progress past the first round in 1966.
- Brazil have also won 16 of their last 18 opening games at the World Cup (drawn two). The last time they lost their first game in the tournament was in 1934 against Spain (1-3).
- Neymar was involved in five of Brazil’s 11 goals at the last World Cup (four goals, one assist). He was also involved in more goals than any other player in the Conmebol qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup (six goals, eight assists).
- Switzerland are unbeaten in their opening game in each of their last four appearances, winning the last two (v Spain in 2010, Ecuador in 2014).
- Switzerland have qualified for their 11th World Cup – it’s their fourth in a row, which equals their longest run of appearances in the tournament (four from 1934 to 1954).
- Switzerland have topped their group only once previously at the World Cup, it was in 2006. That was the year they became the only team not to concede a single goal at a World Cup (four games).
- Xherdan Shaqiri has been directly involved in five of Switzerland’s last six goals at major tournaments (four goals, one assist).