FIFA World Cup LIVE Score: Striker Richarlison celebrates after scoring the opening goal of Brazil's FIFA World Cup Group G match against Serbia. AP
Preview: Five-time champions Brazil begin their journey in the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Thursday when they take on Serbia at the Lusail Stadium.
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The Tite-coached side are the most successful team in the history of the tournament, having won the World Cup a total of five times (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002) besides finishing runners-up twice (1950 and 1998).
Brazil, however, have hit a roadblock of sorts since their fifth world triumph in Japan/South Korea in 2002, getting knocked out in the quarter-finals on three occasions (2006, 2010 and 2018). They reached the semi-finals of the 2014 edition that they hosted before suffering a humiliating 7-1 loss at the hands of eventual champions Germany.
The Brazilian team however, enters the 2022 edition as the tearaway favourites given the sheer range of talent in their ranks as well as the red-hot form of some of their key players such as star forward Neymar.
“His preparation this time has been different. In 2014 he got injured just as he was playing so well, and in 2018 he came into the tournament in a different way because he had a serious injury so hadn’t played much.
“This time is different and he has not been injured. Neymar is a lot better prepared,” said veteran midfielder and Brazil captain Thiago Silva on the eve of their opening game.
The relatively unfancied Serbia, which played as Yugoslavia until the 1998 edition and as Serbia and Montenegro in 2006, failed to progress beyond the group stage in each of its last three appearances in the global tournament.
The team however, enter the tournament as the dark horses, having finished on top of their qualifying group ahead of former European champions Portugal and coach Dragan Stojkovic insisted his side weren’t fazed by the stature of Brazil, the side that had beaten then 2-0 in Russia four years ago.
“We are afraid of nobody in the world, not even Brazil. We don’t need to be afraid,” Stojkovic said ahead of the match.
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