Brazil vs Switzerland: Tite's Selecao ready to banish 2014 humiliation

Only four players who started the 2014 semifinal thrashing by Germany remain in Brazil's squad, with Switzerland up first for Tite's men.

"We have a perfect defence, which makes our team balanced," says Brazil striker Gabriel Jesus.   -  Getty Images

Brazil's magnificent resurgence under Tite is beyond doubt but there remains a sense that the rehabilitation will only truly start with victory over Switzerland in its opening World Cup Group E match.

Selecao's humiliating 7-1 semifinal defeat to Germany on home soil four years ago — an ordeal that rocked a football-mad nation to its core. On Sunday in Rostov, Tite will lead his side into the tournament in a bid to put that horror show behind.

Dunga came in for the humiliated Luiz Felipe Scolari, at which point stagnation truly set in. A pair of failed Copa America campaigns later and Tite got the call. The decorated former Corinthians boss has only suffered defeat once in 21 games at the helm and Brazil swaggered into the tournament with a 3-0 victory in Austria that flattered its hosts.

 

Only four survivors — Marcelo, Paulinho, Fernandinho and Willian — remain from the side routed by Germany, a game that Neymar missed through injury. That, of course, has been a theme recently revisited but the world's most expensive player is set to be joined by Philippe Coutinho, Willian and Gabriel Jesus in a mouth-watering attacking line-up.

"We should be a cohesive team, like a family," said Manchester City striker Jesus, who is set to get the nod ahead of Liverpool's Roberto Firmino as starting No. 9. "Everyone keeps talking about our attack, but players who tackle opponents should not be forgotten. We have a perfect defence, which makes our team balanced."

Switzerland head into the match with a lofty FIFA ranking of sixth in the world — a standing bolstered by some judicious selection of friendly opponents. It means questions remain for Vladimir Petkovic's men against elite opponents — questions experienced defender Johan Djourou is keen to answer.

"I think that the first game always will set the tone and we play against Brazil, against a great team with great individuals like Neymar, Coutinho and Thiago Silva," he told Omnisport. "It's down to us. Switzerland have progressed a lot. But we know that we play against one the best teams in the world, but in football anything is possible."

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Brazil has won 16 of its last 18 opening games at the World Cup (D2). The last time it lost its first game in the tournament was in 1934 against Spain (1-3).
- Switzerland won all bar one of its games in the regular qualifying phase for Russia 2018 (W9 L1), the only exception coming against European champion Portugal away.
- Xherdan Shaqiri has been directly involved in five of Switzerland's last six goals at major tournaments (four goals, one assist). He is also the last player to score a hat-trick at the World Cup, against Honduras on June 25, 2014).
- Neymar was involved in five of Brazil's 11 goals at the last World Cup (four goals, one assist). He also played a part in more goals than any other player in the CONMEBOL qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup, with six goals and eight assists.

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