Favourites Brazil begin their bid to win a sixth World Cup on Thursday when they take on Serbia, while Cristiano Ronaldo will hope to put his acrimonious departure from Manchester United behind him as Portugal enter the fray against Ghana.
Brazil will be wary of a dangerous Serbian side when the teams meet at Lusail Stadium, especially after seeing Argentina suffer a shock defeat against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday at the same venue and Germany lose to Japan on Wednesday.
The Brazilians have arrived in Qatar hoping for a repeat of what happened at the last World Cup held in Asia two decades ago, when they won their fifth title in Japan.
Tite’s side can rely on a Neymar who has been in ominous form for Paris Saint-Germain, but the world’s most expensive player is surrounded by other outstanding attackers ready to share the burden, such as Real Madrid duo Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo.
“In my opinion these players will help Neymar because they can divide up the responsibility and create space for him,” said veteran Brazil skipper Thiago Silva.
“The atmosphere in the squad is super healthy. The mixture of young players and more experienced ones creates a great connection,” he added.
However, Serbia appear a more dangerous proposition than four years ago, when they also faced Brazil in the group stage but lost 2-0 and went home in the first round.
“We are afraid of nobody in the world, not even Brazil,” insisted Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic, who was hopeful that prolific Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic would be fit for the Group G opener.
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