Tite took the offensive option, choosing Vinicius Jr ahead of Fred. It means Neymar moves onto the pitch to play as a No.10, and Lucas Paqueta returns alongside Casemiro.
Dragan Stojkovic left the Juventus pair of Filip Kostic and Dusan Vlahovic on the bench, with Aleksandar Mitrovic up front.
Brazil (4-2-3-1) Alisson; Danilo, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Alex Sandro; Casemiro, Lucas Paqueta; Raphinha, Neymar, Vinicius Jr; Richarlison.
Subs: Weverton, Ederson, Fred, Dani Alves, Eder Militao, Fabinho, Alex Telles, Bruno Guimaraes, Gabriel Jesus, Antony, Rodrygo, Everton Ribeiro, Bremer, Pedro, Martinelli.
Serbia (3-4-2-1) V Milinkovic-Savic; Veljkovic, Milenkovic, Pavlovic; Zivkovic, Lukic, Gudelj, Mladenovic; Tadic, S Milinkovic-Savic; A Mitrovic.
Subs: Dmitrovic, Rajkovic, Erakovic, Maksimovic, Radonjic, Jovic, S Mitrovic, Babic, Kostic, Vlahovic, Racic, Djuricic, Lazovic, Ilic, Grujic.
Arbitrator Alireza Faghani (Iran).
What comes next in this sequence: 4, 8, 24, 8, ?
This is 4, right? No of course not. Roberto Carlos pulled his socks up at the wrong time and Brazil didn’t win the 2006 World Cup. We don’t know what’s next, but everyone linked to the Seleção hopes it’s 20. The streak – as I’m sure you Heritage fan knew anyway – is the number of years between Brazilian World Cup victories since their first triumph in 1958.
They also won it in 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002. Since: nada. Nothing. Everyone move. Not even a final. They are late.
It’s the last chance for Thiago Silva to win a World Cup, probably Casemiro and Neymar too. Tite’s side are favorites to win Qatar 2022 – but they were also favorites in 1982, 1986, 1994, 1998, 2006, 2010 and 2014, so I don’t know what the moral of that particular story is.
Their offensive options are such that the magnificent Vinicius Jr is not a guaranteed starter. Tite must choose between him or Fred, which is not the obvious decision one would expect. If he chooses Vinicius, Casemiro will be the city’s only water carrier, and Brazil have generally favored pragmatism since idealists Tele Santana failed to win the World Cup in 1982 and 1986.
Brazil have been hitting the goal lately, even with a relatively pragmatic system – but so have Serbia, who tick most of the dark horse boxes. It’s a really awkward first game for Brazil. Serbia qualified ahead of Portugal and also have serious attacking options, including Dusan Vlahovic and Aleksandar Mitrovic. They will not fear Brazil; they fear no one. It could be a cracker.
To start up 7 p.m. GMT, 4 p.m. in Rio de Janeiro, 8 p.m. in Belgrade.