The five-time world champions since 1970 have won 31 of their 40 games in the group stage. The last time they failed was against Switzerland four years ago, and the same opponent has held on for a long time even now.
Switzerland face Serbia on Friday and could settle for a draw if Cameroon fail to beat Brazil in back-to-back matches.
Losers’ coach, Murat Yakin, admitted that he had already believed the goalless draw would be kept. “We didn’t control the game as much as we would have liked, but the team fought with all their might and we had some good times. We lost with some bad luck, I can’t blame the players. We have to win the last game,” said the coach, who played 49 games for Switzerland but never managed to advance to the world championship.
The ‘Canaries’ departed without the injured Neymar, whose further league performance is still a question mark, and similar ankle problems have also ruled out right-back Danilo. Their place was taken by Militao in defense and Fred in midfield.
In the Swiss eleven, its top scorer Shaqiri was somewhat unexpectedly missing. The author of 26 goals has been replaced by the more defensive Rieder, only twenty years old, who made his shirt debut with the Swiss cross in the last ten minutes against Cameroon.
Those who expected a storm of Brazilian attacks were disappointed. Richarlison, who scored twice in the win against Serbia, slipped twice in the penalty area in the first 20 minutes, but failed to finish. In the 27th minute, Raphinha sent in a great cross, but Vinícius Júnior crashed into goalkeeper Sommer.
The Swiss goalkeeper, who kept six clean sheets in eight qualifying matches, also faced long-range strike from Raphinh. On the other side, Vargas zigzagged in front of goal, but missed his team’s first shot.
After switching teams, the Swiss realized they could afford to do more than defend. However, the Brazilian players selflessly blocked their shot attempts and their goalkeeper Alisson caused the biggest problems himself when he faltered with play in the 56th minute and was almost punished by Embolo.
In the 64th minute Vinícius Júnior escaped, skilfully avoided Elvedi’s slide and sent in the net. But the video referee stopped the samba in the stands by stating that there was an offside going into the event.
Manager Tite sent in more attacking stars but the winning goal was provided by a player who shouldn’t have done much. Casemiro sends his players into the top sixteen with an unprepared shot following a pass from Rodrygo. The much-admired lightness quickly returned to the Brazilians, and the Swiss only have Sommer to thank for not conceding yet again.
The scorer of the winning goal said it was an unpleasant match. “The Swiss don’t play boring, they have enough experience to know how to deal with us. We had to be patient. Now we are certain that we will come from a difficult group and we can play well in the last match,” said Casemiro, for whom he is it was the sixth goal in the 67th international match.