World Cup favourites Brazil beat Serbia to finish top of Group E

Neymar EFE

Serbia's Vladimir Stojkovic makes a save from Brazil's Neymar.

Barcelona's Paulinho and Paris Saint-Germain's Thiago Silva scored the goals but it wasn't always straightforward.

Mitrovic then towered over right-back Fagner near the 65th minute but only to fire his header straight at Alisson with the goal to shoot at. On the hour mark he failed to clear well a cross that put the ball on a plate for Mitrovic and the shotstopper was fortunate that Thiago Silva was on hand to clear. They need to try and win rather than hope for good fortune in the other match in Group E, but it wouldn't be prudent to go all out in attack.

But the team has been distracted after two ethnic Albanian players, Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri who play for Switzerland, made double eagle gestures in reference to the Albania flag. "I have to be aware of the evolution I have undergone in these last four years".

Filipe Luis replaced him, and the Atletico Madrid man ensured that Marcelo, for all his qualities, was not missed.

In a week in which numerous pre-tournament favourites have struggled, Brazil gave a very assured performance, particularly in the first half. There was patient buildup play and the Brazilians sometimes rested in possession, exchanging short passes in their own half to slow down play.

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A second goal demoralised Serbia as Brazil regained their fluency, the influential Coutinho seeing a fine shot deflected narrowly wide and Stojkovic twice denying an onrushing Neymar, as they closed out the win with relative ease.

"We don't live by expectation, we live by reality", Brazil coach Tite said when asked how he felt about his team now being tournament favourites.

Brazil will now face Mexico in Samara on July 2.

Silva popped up just at the right time for Brazil, and not only in defense.

The wind was taken out of Serbia's sails and Brazil confidently saw out the final stages, Stojkovic doing well to thwart Neymar in stoppage time as the Selecao avoided the humiliating group-stage exit that befell fellow heavyweights and defending champions Germany earlier in the day.

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