FIFA World Cup talking points: Brazil v Costa Rica

In the FIFA World Cup, Brazil finally won their first game when they beat Costa Rica 2-0 and now the tournament favourites find themselves atop Group E with a better goal difference than Switzerland.

Ahead of the competition, many argued that the five-time World Cup winners were going to lift the title in mid-July, but their maiden campaign against the Swiss only resulted in a draw.

Facing their South American rivals in the second game, many questions were raised on how Brazil would approach this match-up, especially with the news that their superstar Neymar was not 100 per cent fit.

The Paris Saint-Germain man would eventually play but struggled for the most part.

It was a tough battle for both nations but Brazil ultimately went away with the win and here are a few talking points from that encounter.

COSTA RICA’S DEFENCE WAS IMPRESSIVE

For the most part, Costa Rica’s form in defence was a masterpiece as they were able to stifle the attack that Brazil presented.

Facing names like Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho, most defences would struggle but the Costa Rican side were up to the task and frustrated the Brazilians for 90 minutes.

They were able to adjust accordingly, and only allowed seven shots in the first half with only one on target.

In the second half, Brazil were more aggressive but Costa Rica still found a way to stop them in the final third by switching their 3-4-2-1 formation to a 5-4-1 whenever the Brazilians tried to pounce into their penalty box.

Their stout defence almost resulted in the two teams sharing points if not for the Brazilians finding the back of the net in stoppage time of the second half.

BRAZIL’S ADJUSTMENT IN THE SECOND HALF

With the score tied in the first half and the Brazilian squad visibly frustrated by Costa Rica’s defensive smarts, coach Tite made the adjustment by bringing in Douglas Costa for Willian.

This resulted in a new dimension on the offensive end for the Brazilians as they were more threatening on the flanks with Douglas Costa’s talent and movement – creating more space for the attackers to move forward.

With Douglas Costa and Neymar controlling the flanks, players like Coutinho and Roberto Firmino were able to drive in the middle towards the goal and were constant threats.

Firmino also played a vital role in Brazil’s victory as his presence added a scoring threat and his positioning allowed him to head the ball towards Coutinho to score the game’s first goal.

KEYLOR NAVAS IS HAD AN INCREDIBLE NIGHT

Between Alisson and Keylor Navas, the latter had a busy night parrying shots from the non-stop Brazilian pressure.

The Brazilians had 69 per cent of possession on the night and that resulted in 23 shots on goal, nine that were on target. In comparison, Costa Rica only managed four shots and none were on target.

And while Costa Rica’s defence did their part, Navas was superb as he was able to clean up the shots that their defence missed for 90 minutes. His positioning, reflexes and movement helped the team get seven saves which could have easily been goals if facing other goalkeepers.

It was unfortunate that Navas failed to stop Coutinho’s goal in stoppage time as the Brazilian’s attempt went between the Real Madrid man’s legs and the second goal was mostly the defence’s fault but it should not take away from the fact that Navas had a stellar outing.

THE WIN COULD FINALLY GET THINGS GOING FOR BRAZIL

Brazil did not start their World Cup campaign in the fashion they expected, but this big win over Costa Rica can finally open the floodgates for them to dominate the competition.

Despite being frustrated and disappointed by the physical play, Brazil held their heads and they were rewarded with the goals that boosted them at the top of the table.

It came at the perfect time with Brazil set to face a tough Serbia squad and the confidence they gained with this win could help them get three more points against the European squad.

Coutinho scored in the second straight game and Neymar finally broke the goal line and that can rekindle the fire that may be missing from under the superstar.

Dubbed as favourites, the Brazilians can finally live up to the expectations in Russia.

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