The strong favourites at World Cup 2018 continued to flounder as Brazil became the latest to disappoint with a 1-1 draw against Switzerland.
Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring with a superb curling effort in the 20th minute before Steven Zuber nodded home from a corner five minutes into the second half.
Here are the ratings for the Brazil players.
Alisson 6 – Was a mere spectator as Zuber powered a header past him from close range. Only had one routine save to make. Was good with his distribution.
Danilo 5 – A couple of tackles and clearances aside, he wasn’t very involved in the encounter. He did venture forward from right-back but was unable to make an impact in attack.
Thiago Silva 6 – Led the defence well, making more clearances than any other player on the pitch and was good with the ball at his feet.
Miranda 6 – Zuber was able to nudge him out of the way to get a free header for the goal. Was otherwise faultless as he was dominant in the air and made a couple of good interventions.
Marcelo 6 – The Real Madrid full-back was good going forward and one of Brazil’s more creative players, making three key passes. His delivery from the touchline was lacking though.
Paulinho 6 – Had big chance in the 11th minute when Neymar found him inside the area but got the ball caught under his feet and missed the target. Had a few lively moments otherwise.
Casemiro 6 – Made a few telling contributions from a defensive aspect and did well to keep tabs on Blerim Dzemaili, even picking up a booking for his troubles.
Philippe Coutinho 8 – On a day when Neymar wasn’t at his best, Coutinho looked like Brazil’s chief threat. Scored a sublime opener and looked most likely to get on the score sheet again.
Willian 5 – The Chelsea winger had an uncharacteristically ineffective performance. His delivery was lacking and he gave away possession on a few occasions.
Gabriel Jesus 5 – Had one good moment when he rolled Manuel Akanji inside the box and had a case for a penalty but couldn’t be the focal point Brazil needed. Only Alisson had fewer touches among the starters.
Neymar 5 – After impressing since his return from injury, he disappointed this time around. He buzzed about and got involved but apart a couple of tame shots and a few dribbles, was unable to make an impact.
Fernandinho 6 – Was brought on in place of Casemiro on the hour mark to help spread play and recycle possession which he did well enough.
Renato Augusto 5 – Replaced Paulinho to provide fresh legs and drive from midfield but was unable to make an impact.
Roberto Firmino N/A – Had a good moment when he flicked the ball into his own path but blazed over from a narrow angle.
Switzerland earned a vital point by holding World Cup favourites Brazil to a 1-1 draw.
The Swiss produced a trademark no-nonsense display to keep Brazil at bay.
Here are the ratings for Switzerland’s valiant side.
Yann Sommer 6 – Helpless for Brazil’s goal. His other saves were largely easy, as his defence pulled out some immense peformances.
Stephan Lichtsteiner 6 – Lichtsteiner’s veteran leadership was crucial to Switzerland’s defence as they remained solid in the face of Brazil’s pressure.
Fabian Schar 7 – The Swiss defence’s best player, as he stood tall against Brazil’s skillful attackers. Marshalled his team-mates well.
Manuel Akanji 7 – Finishes with a high mark after a solid second-half display against Brazil’s vaunted attack. The winter signing for Borussia Dortmund is some talent.
Ricardo Rodriguez 7 – In a battle of star left-backs, Rodriguez held his own against Marcelo, proving a tough nut in defence and a valiant presence in attacker.
Valon Behrami 8 – Switzerland’s best performer on the night. A commanding midfield performance, displaying a fighting spirit that inspired his teammates.
Granit Xhaka 5 – Defensively suspect, reduced to fouling more often than not, and couldn’t provide the attacking impetus he usually does for Switzerland.
Xherdan Shaqiri 7 – Didn’t produce the magic he’s capable of, but worked hard, putting in a shift defensively when required and leading attacks when he could. Got the assist for Switzerland’s goal.
Blerim Dzemaili 6 – Composed in possession, as he produced tidy passes and kept control of the ball well, but didn’t have enough of an attacking impact.
Steven Zuber 8 – How crucial will that goal be? Realistically, Switzerland would have written this game off, but thanks to Zuber they have an unexpected point.
Haris Seferovic 6 – Gamely led the line, but didn’t ask enough of Brazil’s defence, who marshalled him well.
Denis Zakaria 6 – Provided fresh legs after coming on, as Switzerland looked to hold on for a draw.
Michael Lang N/A – Had next to no time to make an impact, coming on with just minutes left in the game.
Breel Embolo N/A – One of Switzerland’s hyped youngsters, but didn’t get enough of a chance to show why during his cameo.
With the pressure of delivering Brazil a World Cup triumph on Neymar‘s shoulders, the Paris Saint-Germain star set about his task with typical swagger against a dogged Switzerland side in La Selecao’s tournament opener.
Despite his best efforts, however, Brazil were held to a draw as Neymar endured a frustrating night in Rostov-on-Don.
Here’s an in-depth look at his performance.
Goals – 0
Assists – 0
Shots – 4
Shots on target – 2
Key passes – 4
Passing accuracy – 86%
Dribbles – 5
Touches – 79
Neymar is used to being the focus of attention for opposition defence, but on Sunday it was a different level. Switzerland fouled him almost every time he was on the ball, doing their best to make sure he couldn’t charge at their defence.
Despite that, he did his best to have an impact, showcasing his trademark skill and producing deliveries from wide positions and set-pieces. He nearly got on the scoresheet with a late header, which would have stolen headlines.
Neymar’s movement was deadly – no more so than for Brazil’s goal, where the threat he posed just by being on the ball near the Switzerland box drew four defenders towards him. That allowed Coutinho all the space in the world to let fly with a thunderous shot.
His distribution from set-pieces was typically deadly, creating plenty of chances for his team-mates. More clinical finishing from the rest of the Brazil team would have seen the talk centre on a star performance from Neymar.
In the few chances Switzerland allowed him to have, when he was able to escape their rather physical attentions, Neymar failed to deliver at the level he’s capable of. There was a late header that he should have scored, or at least drawn a tougher save.
In all honesty, however, the Swiss strategy of fouling him whenever he got on the ball took its toll. It’s hard to blame Neymar for any shortcomings in this match.
20th minute, Coutinho GOAL: Neymar pulled four defenders to himself while on the ball, freeing up the space for Philippe Coutinho to unleash a fierce long-range shot.
88th minute, SHOT: The Brazil talisman burst into the box to get on the end of a well-placed cross, but his header was straight at the keeper.
By now, Neymar must be used to the physicality of opposition defences, and Switzerland gave him a tough examination, with their persistent fouling limiting his impact.
Neymar will be the first to admit he’s capable of better displays than this, but it says a lot about his quality that a 6/10 performance is nearly a match-winning one. He came close to scoring, and better finishing from his team-mates would have seen him rack up at least a couple of assists.
RATING – 6/10
Neymar was fouled 10 times in this match vs Switzerland, most for any player in a World Cup match since Alan Shearer was fouled 11 times against Tunisia on June 15, 1998.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 17, 2018
It also is the most fouls suffered for a Brazilian player in a World Cup match since 1966. pic.twitter.com/AZSI1a3gbF