Yes, Brazil: that’s pretty much how we remembered you. This is a new generation of Brazilian players, a new era and a new World Cup challenge. And yet by the same token this was a classic Brazilian tournament performance: the sort that feels like it’s being put on for our benefit. On a still night in the giant golden ark of the Lusail Stadium, the tournament favourites played the game you expect from tournament favourites: solid, expansive, and embellished with the sort of effortless brilliance that makes other countries furrow their brow a little.
The match had three distinct periods. In period one Brazil started pretty tamely, perhaps even uncertainly, picking away at Serbia with tempo but not a great deal of poise. As the second half progressed they began to warm to the task, cathartically breaking the deadlock with a goal from Richarlison. In the final half hour they simply cut loose: riotous skills, relentless waves of attack and an early goal of the tournament contender from Richarlison, who scored his second with an outrageous bicycle kick.