There is a reason why I called them predictions sure to go wrong. While Costa Rica continues to surprise with their poor performance, Switzerland continues to impress with their result oriented soccer.
I predicted that Costa Rica’s experience would help them in this group but all it has done is help them fake injuries and show experienced ways of trying to kill time against a Brazil team that was ready to collapse if challenged. They were not and instead, Costa Rica tried to kill time and invited Brazil to pile the pressure. Costa Rican players were collapsing randomly across the field hoping to get a draw out of the game against Brazil . Why? As much as I can understand that carrying your hopes to the last day of matches can be a respectable goal, it was bad math at best.
To credit Neymar, he was more keen to move the ball compared to the first game. Brazil seems to be stuck on offense though; they either watch Neymar take on two players and lose the ball or send hopeless crosses to the middle which have lacked quality to say the least. Even a player like Marcelo continues to miss the mark in his crosses prompting the notion that the team has still not gelled enough to work well together. Brazil was stagnant again though until Firmino came in, creating space, moving without the ball and showing that great chemistry with Coutinho, the true leader of this Brazilian team. It took most of the game for Brazil to realise that they did not need the abundance of CDMs on the field against a team that had no intentions of attacking. In a game like this, it was not Firmino or Jesus, both should have been on the field to create space and confuse the Costa Rica defense.
As a lifelong soccer fan, I want to be able to root for a top player with enormous talent like Neymar but it is so hard. His “Me first” attitude in this game play combined with his obnoxious effort to prove his talent make him a very hard guy to root for. VAR was able to show his shameful diving once again which is probably the boldest line in his resume. With his team up 1-0, instead of holding possession of the ball, he tried to once again show off his opponent with a move that definitely worked but does it make Neymar a better player. His supposed tears of joy at the end of the game is nothing but his way of being the center of attention again, highlighted by his post on Instagram trying to explain those tears. A team that is on paper and on media Neymar’s team should really be Coutinho’s team as without his contributions so far, Brazil would already be packing to go home at this stage of the tournament. I want to enjoy watch Neymar play but as a fan who has always rooted for Brazil in international tournaments, I find it hard to root for a team whose star wants to be the center of attention by killing his team’s play on the field by being selfish, dives repeatedly, fakes injuries on and off the field(leaving practice to create more headlines), and craves the attention he is getting while acting like he does not want it.
As a lifelong soccer fan, I want to be able to root for the underdog and cheer on Costa Rica. It is impossible to root for a team where players are dropping like flies at the slightest touch, faking injuries and making the game unbearable to watch. I know time killing is a skill and it is done at professional level but watching their players fall from fast movement of air next to them and act like they were shot repeatedly was just nauseating at best. There were times with multiple players on the ground, throw-ins passed from 2-3 players before they are taken, the works. All this for getting a draw against Brazil by such an experienced team was sad to see especially seeing them succeed when they went after Brazil before realizing they were suddenly on the offensive and retreating back to play the wall on defense.
Switzerland continued to ride their Premier League stars to victory in a very entertaining game against Serbia. Switzerland deserved the win and now they will advance to the next round with a draw or win against a Costa Rica team missing its bite.
LIVERPOOL PLAYER WATCH: Firmino makes the difference in Brazil’s offense again by doing his thing. His chemistry with Coutinho only adds to Brazil’s offense and brings back great memories of their time together at LFC (7/10)