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Star-studded Brazil get World Cup underway against dark horses Serbia

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THEY’RE the most successful nation in World Cup history with FIVE trophies to their name.

But Brazil haven’t gone all the way since a Ronaldo-inspired success in 2002.

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In fact, they’ve only ONCE made it past the quarter-finals in the 20 years since that day when they lost the third-place play-off to Holland in 2014 on home soil.

This winter, Tite has a star-studded squad itching to go the distance.

But before getting too ahead of themselves, Brazil must find a way to navigate a particularly tricky group, featuring Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon.

Up first, it’s potential dark horses Serbia – as SunSport takes a look at everything you need to know before the big game.

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How did they get there?

Brazil: Topped the outrageously-tough South American table with 14 wins from their 17 games, drawing three with ZERO losses.

Their clash with Argentina was scrapped after five minutes due to an incredible row over Covid.

Serbia: Won a tricky European Group A, winning six of their eight matches and going unbeaten, like Brazil.

Serbia, tipped as dark horses for the 2022 tournament in Qatar, beat Portugal to top spot to avoid the need for a play-off.

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WC SERBIA stats NOV21B 1

How’s their form?

Brazil: Well, they’ve won every match since JANUARY 27 when they were held 1-1 by Ecuador in a feisty encounter.

Incredibly, their most-recent defeat came in the Copa America final in July 2021.

They beat Ghana 3-0 and Tunisia 5-1 in September, with both those teams in this winter’s tournament.

Serbia: Thumped Bahrain 5-1 in their pre-tournament warm-up match on the back of a strong Nations League campaign.

They won four of their group games, drawing one and losing one.

Prior to that, they beat Hungary – who inflicted England’s biggest defeat since 1928 just weeks later – with a 3-0 loss to Denmark shortly after.

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Who are the managers?

Brazil: Tite – A hugely experienced boss having spent most of his career in his home nation, Qatar will only be his second World Cup having taken over in 2016.

The South Americans lost 2-1 to Belgium in the quarter-finals in Russia four years ago, with Tite itching to make up this time around.

Tite has won a staggering 75 per cent of his 76 matches in charge of Brazil.

Serbia: Dragan Stojkovic – A former team-mate of Gary Lineker, he started his managerial career at Nagoya Grampus Eight, following in the footsteps of Arsene Wenger, who famously led the Japanese side before heading to Arsenal.

Stojkovic spent five years there, before moving to China to manage Super League side Guangzhou R&F, where he spent another half-decade.

The 85-cap international took over as Serbia boss in 2021 and has won a hugely impressive 14 of his 21 matches, losing just three times.

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Who are the star players?

Brazil: Could easily list the entire 26-man squad, with a world-class squad more than capable of putting out two lethal XIs.

But their attack is the attention-grabber with the likes of Neymar, Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo, Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli, Richarlison and Antony in the current group.

Yet they’re strong across the board, with Alisson and Ederson fighting for the No1 jersey, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva and Eder Militao in defence and Bruno Guimaraes, Fabinho and Casemiro in the middle.

Serbia: Aleksandar Mitrovic is the clear main man for the European side, with his last-gasp winner against Portugal securing their World Cup place.

His goals are invaluable to the team, but the squad is packed with top talent including Dusan Tadic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Dusan Vlahovic, with Luka Jovic, Filip Kostic and Nikola Milenkovic also in the 26-man group.

Brazil boast a star-studded squad including the likes of Neymar and Dani Alves

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Brazil boast a star-studded squad including the likes of Neymar and Dani AlvesCredit: EPA
Aleksandar Mitrovic will be Serbia's biggest threat at the 2022 World Cup

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Aleksandar Mitrovic will be Serbia’s biggest threat at the 2022 World CupCredit: AFP

What’s the head-to-head?

The teams have faced off twice, with Brazil winning both.

The South Americans won a friendly 1-0 in 2014 shortly before the World Cup on home soil.

Brazil then beat them 2-0 in the group stages of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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What TV channel will show the game?

The match will be shown on BBC One, with kick-off 7pm.

Alternatively, you can follow the match on iPlayer.

SunSport prediction

Brazil 2 Serbia 1



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