In their second game of the FIFA World Cup, Brazil finally picked up a victory against Costa Rica and are now only a match away from possibly securing a spot in the knockout stages.
After a draw in their opening match against Switzerland, the Brazilians faced their South American rivals in Costa Rica and it was surprisingly competitive with Brazil desperately trying to find a way to score while Costa Rica were resolute in defending their goal.
Ultimately, the talented Brazil side broke through in injury time to score twice and secure a hard-earned 2-0 victory over Costa Rica.
There were plenty to talk about and a lot of storylines developing, but here are three players who stood out for Brazil; one was arguably the worst on the pitch, the second was surprisingly average and the third being the absolute best for the game.
Despite Brazil having one of the most talented squads in the World Cup, few would argue Willian’s place in the starting XI.
A gifted right winger, the Chelsea player is able to constantly threaten from the flanks and has the innate ability to swing the ball inwards for strikers to easily pick off and score.
Unfortunately, none of that was present when Willian played against Costa Rica. He seemed lethargic at times and was surprisingly heavy on the touch when it comes to control of the ball.
There were instances where Willian failed to be quick on his feet which caused Brazil’s dreaded counter-attack to fall short in the first half.
In fact, Willian would fail to make a difference on the wing that it forced Brazil to be restricted on their attack, and it failed to break through a strong defensive stance from the Costa Ricans.
His poor performance ultimately sealed his fate in the match as he only played the first half before coach Tite brought in Douglas Costa to take his place.
Despite scoring in the game, Neymar’s performance against Costa Rica in the World Cup is easily average knowing what he can do when he’s on the pitch.
To be fair, Costa Rica had planned to be physical with the Paris Saint-Germain star, fouling him on different occasions to stop him from making a run towards the goal.
However, Neymar did not completely help himself as well. Recognising how Costa Rica would play him, the winger oftentimes played for the whistle instead of continuing to push forward.
This was seen in his penalty claim as he appeared to fall down after an apparent push from the Costa Rica defender, only for the Video Assistance Referee (VAR) to overrule the initial penalty call from the referee.
To his credit, Neymar had some crisp passes and his corners were neatly placed as well, but a player of his stature can simply take over a game when he wants to so his inconsistent performance against Costa Rica is clearly not his best.
BEST: Philippe Coutinho
As what’s been the trajectory of his career since his days in Liverpool, Philippe Coutinho continues to create magic whenever he is on the pitch.
The Barcelona man was the difference in their first match where he scored a goal against the Swiss, and he provided the team’s first goal against Costa Rica as well – helping Brazil breathe a sigh of relief while breaking Costa Rican hearts.
In the second half, Coutinho was able to operate on a much bigger space and he made the most out of it, troubling Costa Rica’s defence to batter them with attempts on goal.
Brimming with confidence and oozing with composure, Coutinho’s finish in the 91st minute of the game only shows how he performs well under pressure as he simply knew where to be to clean up the possession and result in a goal.
With the eyes on his other Brazilian teammates, it is still clear to see that Brazil have a greater chance if Coutinho is on the pitch and can be constantly supplied with the ball.