Brazil’s spot in the last-16 is far from secure and they will require at least a point against Serbia if they are to advance from Group E on Wednesday.
The Spartak Stadium will host this fascinating battle and with that in mind, look at some of the key tactics which could play out for both sides.
JESUS AND FIRMINO, NOT JESUS OR FIRMINO
It’s the great debate which surrounds the Brazil team right now but with Tite’s obvious preference for golden boy Gabriel Jesus, it’s unlikely we will see Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino displace him in the starting XI.
Jesus has, however, so far struggled to make an impact in Russia but there is a mitigating circumstance with Neymar’s indifferent form behind him cutting off the avenues into his feet.
Paulinho, too, is not providing the expected support in the box from midfield so it should be to little surprise the Manchester City forward has been quiet.
However, he’s livened up when Firmino has entered proceedings from the bench, Tite switching from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 against Costa Rica to positive effect. And perhaps that’s a change Brazil can deploy from the get go against Serbia, especially considering the inevitability of Jesus being crowded out by a physically imposing outfit.
SERBIA’S CROSSING ASSAULT
Brazil have already shown fallibility in the air at this World Cup with Switzerland’s Steven Zuber the beneficiary of poor marking from a corner to head home an equaliser in their Group E opener.
Centre-back Miranda, the culprit up against Zuber, is the tallest member in the squad at a modest 6ft2 with the Canarinho largely on the smaller side.
That could well play perfectly into the hands of Serbia who possess comparable giants in Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (6ft3), Aleksandar Mitrovic (6ft1), Nemanja Matic (6ft4), Nikola Milenkovic (6ft4), Luka Milivojevic (6ft1) and Branislav Ivanovic (6ft).
They crossed the ball 17 times against Switzerland, striker Mitrovic winning a game-high eight headers and deliveries out wide or from set-pieces could give Serbia a big advantage.
It’s easy to forget but Paulinho’s season has been a marathon.
Due to the Chinese Super League being scheduled by calendar year, when he joined Barcelona last summer it was midway through Guangzhou Evergrande’s campaign.
That means should the midfielder take to the field on Wednesday, it will be his 94th appearance for clubs and country in 490 days.
His exhaustion was a talking point throughout the season for Barcelona and it is again an issue for Brazil.
As a box-to-box operator, energy is absolutely paramount to the role so Tite has a decision to make.
Does he bring in Renato Augusto who arrived in Russia with a knee injury when question marks still hang over his fitness or will the Brazil boss persist with running Paulinho further into the ground?