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    Soccer News: Brazil v Serbia: Selecao hope to learn from recent setbacks

    Brazil starts their 2022 Qatar campaign against Serbia as tournament favorites and with high hopes, but head coach Tite believes there are lessons to be learned from recent setbacks.

    The Selesao have won a record five World Cups, although they have not lifted the most famous trophy of all since 2002, when they beat Germany 2-0 in the final.

    Since then, Brazil have reached the semi-finals only once and have been knocked out of the quarter-finals three times, including four years ago at the hands of Belgium.

    But as Tite becomes the first coach to lead Brazil to consecutive World Cups since Tele Santana in the 1980s, the seasoned coach is hoping for a better result this time around.

    “Now I know more how to focus my attention,” he told The Guardian, especially reflecting on his team’s 1-1 draw with Switzerland in their first Russia match of 2018.

    “I was also naive and inexperienced. I told my players not to complain about the refereeing against Switzerland because of VAR, but our player was fouled.

    “If and when this happens again, you need to respectfully complain and talk to the judge. We did it against Ecuador that year. We have learned.”

    Brazil is the only team to have taken part in every World Cup since it was originally held in 1930, and this is their 22nd appearance in a world show.

    The South American giants are unbeaten in their last 15 group matches, have won 12 and have topped their list in every edition since 1982.

    Serbia will play Brazil first at Lusail Stadium on Thursday in Group G, which also includes Switzerland and Cameroon.

    As an independent nation, Serbia have been eliminated from the group stage in all three World Cup matches, but they have come out unbeaten in their eight qualifying matches this year.

    The suitability of a number of key players remains in question, such as Sasha Lukic, Filip Kostic and Aleksandar Mitrovic, the latter having not played for almost a month.

    “I sincerely hope they will be ready,” head coach Dragan Stojkovic told reporters. “But what will happen before the game, I don’t know. Everything is done so that they are ready.

    “There are no motivational and psychological problems. So far, we didn’t want to risk their fitness. We will do our best to ensure that everyone is ready.”

    Brazil have won each of their previous two encounters with Serbia, including a group stage match at the last World Cup when they won 2-0.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Brazil – Neymar

    Taking part in his third and, in his own words, possibly last World Cup, Neymar only needs three goals to surpass Pelé as Brazil’s all-time leading scorer.

    While Seleção failed to cope with two of his games, the in-form Paris Saint-Germain striker can be pleased with his performance, scoring six goals and providing two assists.

    In fact, since his home country World Cup debut in 2014, Neymar has been directly involved in 42% of his team’s 19 goals in the tournament.

    Serbia – Aleksandar Mitrovic

    If Serbia are going to commit a big disappointment, they will need to have their star players, not least the prolific striker Mitrovic.

    The Fulham striker scored eight goals in eight games on his way to Qatar, a tally that only Memphis Depay and Harry Kane (both 12) could have scored in European qualifiers.

    Mitrovic has also been in superb form at club level this campaign, scoring nine goals in 12 Premier League appearances and finishing fourth in the Golden Boot race.

    FORECAST

    Serbia lost seven of their nine World Cup games and got an extremely difficult debut, but they showed in qualifying that they were hard to beat.

    Stats Perform’s artificial intelligence supercomputer prediction model gives Stojkovic’s team a 14.3 percent chance of beating Brazil.

    In this case, the probability of victory “Selesao” is 65.6%, and the probability of a draw – 20.1%.

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