In Neymar’s absence, Brazil needed a late intervention from veteran midfielder Casemiro to steer them past a stubborn Switzerland.
After losing star forward Neymar to injury in the opening win against Serbia, the Selecao were forced to regroup tactically for their second match at Qatar 2022.
But despite the trio of Vinicius Junior, Richarlison and Raphinh Tite, the team ultimately needed experienced midfielder Casemiro to see them through without their talisman in a tight Group G encounter.
Victory in Doha means Brazil join defending champions France in the last 16, although defeat to Switzerland still leaves them in second place with their fate in their own hands.
Brazil operated with a wide attacking approach and often troubled their opponents but rarely let Yann Sommer seriously struggle between the posts before the break.
An uptick in tempo after the break brought sharper chances, with Breel Embolo troubling Alisson after a blocked clearance and Richarlison agonizingly close to Vinicius’ through ball.
The latter looked to have put Brazil in front after a Swiss defensive lapse just after the hour mark, only for VAR to flag his neat finish as a questionable offside against team-mate Richarlison.
But Casemiro struck late on, latching onto Rodrygo’s half-volley to leave a bulging mark in the net and keep the Selecao on course for their first World Cup triumph in two decades.
Brazil vs Switzerland player ratings
1. Brazil (4-3-3)
GK: Alisson – 5/10 – Shaky under little pressure but generally didn’t have a lot to do. Has shaved his moustache.
RB: Eder Militao – 7/10 – Did a nice job at right-back but was usually central when Brazil were on the ball. Really composed in possession.
CB: Thiago Silva – 7/10 – Some excellent passes as he looked in control of every situation.
CB: Marquinhos – 7/10 – Had to do a lot of the creating as Brazil’s midfielders struggled to get through.
LB: Alex Sandro – 6/10 – Some fantastic moments that yielded slow-mo replays, but still needed to do more in attack.
DM: Casemiro – 8/10 – Shielded his defence well and did what he could to try and keep things ticking over in attack. A moment of magic to win the game.
CM: Fred – 5/10 – Not the right skill set for this game. Did a decent enough job defensively but his limited attacking output was a major issue.
CM: Lucas Paqueta – 5/10 – Not on it here. Made a few nice passes but generally couldn’t find the space needed to get through Switzerland’s defence.
RW: Raphinha – 6/10 – At the centre of nearly everything positive from Brazil, which doesn’t say much.
ST: Richarlison – 5/10 – Starved of service but did manage a few nice passes when he did finaly get the ball.
LW: Vinicius Junior – 6/10 – A few nice runs but sloppy in front of goal. Should have put Brazil ahead in the first half. Came to life after the break.
SUB: Rodrygo (46′ for Paqueta) – 6/10 – Focused on trying to beat Switzerland on the counter. Nice movement.
SUB: Bruno Guimaraes (59′ for Fred) – 7/10 – Changed the tide of the midfield battle. An impressive showing.
SUB: Antony (73′ for Raphinha) – 6/10 – Had the odd dangerous moment.
SUB: Gabriel Jesus (73′ for Richarlison) – 6/10 – Didn’t have long to strut his stuff but did involve himself in a few nice moves.
SUB: Alex Telles (86′ for Sandro) – N/A
Manager: Tite – 5/10 – Clearly exploring ways to cope without Neymar but didn’t really find one. A thoroughly uninspiring showing saved by a moment of magic.
2. Switzerland (4-2-3-1)
GK: Yann Sommer – 6/10 – Made a nice save to deny Vinicius.
RB: Silvan Widmer – 6/10 – Some early fouls on Vinicius set the tone. Made the winger uncomfortable and did a nice job. Saved by the offside flag for the disallowed opener.
CB: Manuel Akanji – 7/10 – Impressive positioning to keep Richarlison at bay.
CB: Nico Elvedi – 7/10 – Did a very solid job of controlling Brazil’s attackers alongside his mathematician teammate.
LB: Ricardo Rodriguez – 6/10 – Didn’t have a whole lot of defending to do but looked a little too cautious in attack.
DM: Remo Freuler – 6/10 – Good energy and desire to keep closing Brazil’s midfield down. Faded as the game progressed.
DM: Granit Xhaka – 6/10 – Similarly, led by example in midfield as he pressed with real energy and enthusiasm. Unsettled Brazil.
RM: Fabian Rieder – 6/10 – Handed his first international start in an unfamiliar position and did a solid job, but wasn’t always comfortable. A little too aggressive at times but nothing to really complain about.
AM: Djibril Sow – 5/10 – The odd nice run but couldn’t find any way through Brazil’s experienced defence.
LM: Ruben Vargas – 5/10 – Played a little narrower to try and being Rodriguez into the game but it didn’t always work.
ST: Breel Embolo – 5/10 – Put a shift in but had very little joy against high-level opposition. Can’t fault the effort.
SUB: Edimilson Fernandes (59′ for Vargas) – 5/10 – Red hot in the minutes after he entered but soon faded away.
SUB: Renato Steffen (59′ for Rieder) – 5/10 – Didn’t offer mich down the right.
SUB: Michel Aebischer (75′ for Sow) – 5/10 – Barely got involved.
SUB: Haris Seferovic (75′ for Embolo) – 5/10 – Chased shadows during his short time on the pitch.
SUB: Fabian Frei (86′ for Widmer) – N/A
Manager: Murat Yakin – 6/10 – It’s not easy to keep Brazil this quiet but Yakin’s decision to start Rieder over Xherdan Shaqiri helped add more steel. Just a shame about the non-existent attacking threat.