What a difference a goal makes. Just as it looked like Brazil was headed into their final match needing a win, Coutinho found the back of the net in stoppage time to give Brazil three points with their victory over Costa Rica. Neymar added a second goal for good measure.
Brazil sits atop the group with four points, but will await the outcome of the Switzerland-Serbia match to see where they stand heading into their final match of group play against Serbia. Here’s a look at the current Group E standings.
Group E Standings
A Serbia win would push Brazil down to second with four points, while Serbia would sit atop the group standings with six. A Switzerland victory would tie them with Brazil atop the table with four points each. A draw would tie Brazil with Serbia with both teams having four points. If multiple teams are tied after group play has concluded, the first tiebreaker would be goal differential at that point.
Neymar Cries After Win
It has been an emotional start to World Cup for Neymar. In Brazil’s opening match against Switzerland, Neymar was knocked around during the game with Switzerland reaching double-digit fouls during the match. Leading up to their second match against Costa Rica, Neymar injured his ankle putting his status in doubt for the game. Neymar was able to start, but Brazil did not have the kind of start they were hoping for.
Brazil ended up with two goals in extra time, as Neymar punched in an additional goal to give Brazil the 2-0 victory. After the match, Neymar was seen with his head in his shirt crying over the ups and downs of the first week of the tournament.
Brazil’s Next Match: Serbia
Brazil and Serbia are both contending to win Group E. They will square off on Wednesday, June 27 at 2 p.m. Eastern in both teams final match of group play. Brazil will have to await the outcome of Serbia’s second match to see what result they will need against Serbia to advance to the Round of 16, but their win against Costa Rica gives them a good chance. ESPN discussed the adjustments made at halftime to help Brazil get the win.
At halftime, it certainly looked as if we were headed in that direction. A stodgy Brazil were getting little joy. Neymar, perhaps cognizant of the fact that he had tried to do too much in the opener, was overcompensating the other way, doing too little. Philippe Coutinho, the creative spark, was sucked into the slow, dull plod imposed by Costa Rica. Willian, who Tite had said ought to be more involved, was so isolated he would have needed a satellite phone to communicate with the midfield.
So Tite sent on Douglas Costa — a guy unafraid to run at people — for Willian and, later, Roberto Firmino for Paulinho. Two moves which had the net result of stretching Costa Rica from left to right. Suddenly, gaps appeared for Coutinho’s playmaking. Douglas Costa’s aggressive running wreaked havoc on his flank which, in turn, shifted the focus from the other, freeing up Neymar.