In the past few days, in the desperate search for Brazil’s pain point, there has been some hope. Maybe it’s the full-backs: if Daniel Alves, whose exuberant energy is finally starting to boil at the age of 39, can get into the squad, the options may not be outstanding.
Or maybe it’s midfield: perhaps Tite, the national team coach, won’t be able to resist the temptation to tap into his wide range of attacking talents, leaving Casemiro as the only overworked adult in the room. Or, in a pinch, it could be Neymar. Can you rely on Neymar when it matters?
How to watch Brazil vs Serbia: 2:00 p.m. ET. Fox, Telemundo, Peacock.
It all seems a little desperate. There is no guarantee that Brazil will win the World Cup, of course, not least because of the quality of some of its opponents. Argentina and now Germany could trip, but France, England and thanks slightly heartbreaking demolition of Costa Rica on Wednesday, Spain showed all its strength. The field is taking shape.
In the weeks before the tournament, it was assumed that Brazil was leading it. Tite has a “golden generation” at his disposal, as his Serbian colleague Dragan Stojkovic put it. Stojkovic, for those with long enough memories, knows something about the golden generations. There is no obvious pressure point. This is the best team that Brazil has sent to the final since they won the tournament in 2002; in fact it is a much better team than the one that won in Japan 20 years ago. He saw the standard. Now it’s time to match it.