Richarlison felt Brazil's World Cup quarter-final defeat to Croatia was "worse than losing a family member".

Pre-tournament favourites the Selecao won Group G and thrashed South Korea 4-1 in the round of 16 to raise hopes they could be crowned champions for the first time since 2002.

But their campaign came to a halt at the quarter-final stage in Qatar, losing on penalties to Croatia after Marquinhos and Rodrygo were unable to tuck away their spot-kicks.

The loss sparked emotional responses from a number of players with Neymar, who had given Brazil an extra-time lead before Bruno Petkovic's equaliser sent the game to penalties, left in tears on the pitch as Croatia celebrated their victory.

Richarlison told ESPN: "It was a blow, I don't know. I think it's worse than losing a family member.

"It was difficult to recover. To this day, when I watch videos on my social networks, it makes me sad.

"But we have to move on. I'm still young, I think I still have one or two World Cups to go. I will keep working hard so that things start to flow again, the goals start to come out, which is what I know how to do on the field."

Despite the disappointing end to the tournament, it was a strong World Cup for Richarlison, who was Brazil's top scorer with three goals.

The Tottenham forward's bicycle kick against Serbia won the goal of the tournament award and has also been nominated for the 2022 Puskas Award, handed out by FIFA to the best goal of a calendar year.

"Our goal was to be champion. I scored a beautiful goal, but I think that goal, let's say, was not my goal," Richarlison added. "We went there to raise the cup. 

"But I'm also happy to have scored that great goal, even running for the Puskas. I was happy, because I think a lot of people started to know me more. It was very important in my career."

Tottenham forward Richarlison pointed the finger of blame for the angry scenes at the end of Sunday's north London derby at Aaron Ramsdale, calling him "disrespectful".

The Arsenal goalkeeper turned to the home fans after the final whistle confirmed a 2-0 win for the Gunners and kissed the badge on his shirt, leading to Richarlison racing over to confront him before a Spurs fan managed to stand on the advertising hoardings and kick Ramsdale in the back as he retrieved his water bottle.

Several players from both teams got involved before Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta ushered his team away to go over to the away fans to celebrate the win that gave them an eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

Speaking to ESPN, Richarlison explained why he reacted in the manner he did to Ramsdale, saying: "What I really didn't like was their goalkeeper going to celebrate in front of our fans. It's kind of disrespectful to our fans. He has his fans, he has to go celebrate with his fans, not be cute with our fans.

"People know that we tried to do our best, but you have to respect other teams. [Ramsdale] lacked respect there, and I went there to charge [against] him."

It was not the only time the former Watford and Everton player showed displeasure during the game, including moments with fellow Brazilians Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Magalhaes, though he later regretted his shunning of Martinelli when he offered his hand prior to taking a corner.

"I want to apologise to him," he said. "He put his hand out and I didn't. Like it or not, he is my Brazil team-mate. This is part of it, it's a derby, we were hot headed.

"With [Magalhaes], I argued a little because he was holding up the game. He ended up getting a yellow [for time-wasting], and I said to him: 'Let's play, let's play'. And he was holding up the game."

Tottenham released a statement after the game saying they were "appalled by the behaviour" of the supporter who attacked Ramsdale and confirmed they would be "working with the Met Police, Arsenal and Aaron Ramsdale to take the strongest possible action, including an immediate ban from Tottenham Hotspur Stadium."

All eyes will be cast towards north London on Sunday for a derby that could have significant implications in the tussle for the Premier League title and the hunt for a top-four finish.

Arsenal's lead at the top of the Premier League will be just two points if Manchester City beat Manchester United on Saturday, while victory for Erik ten Hag's side would put them five ahead of Spurs in the quest for Champions League football.

Having so much at stake is nothing new for clashes between Arsenal and Spurs, with a meeting at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last May being decisive in the two sides' battle to clinch fourth spot, where a 3-0 win for the hosts saw the Gunners miss the chance to secure a return to Europe's elite club competition.

Arsenal then lost to Newcastle United and saw Spurs leapfrog them to secure a top-four spot on the final day of the season, but Mikel Arteta's side have responded superbly.

Gunning for glory

Arsenal's pursuit of a first league title since 2003-04 has caught many by surprise this season, as has Tottenham's inability to kick on having beaten their arch-rivals to Champions League football last term.

Since that loss to Spurs in May, Arsenal have won 15 of their 19 Premier League matches, picking up 47 points out of a possible 57, with losses coming in the aforementioned trip to Newcastle last season and at Old Trafford against United in September.

Spurs, meanwhile, have won 12 of 20 Premier League fixtures since the win against Arsenal, picking up 39 points from a possible 60 – six of which came in back-to-back victories to finish the 2021-22 season.

In attack, the two great rivals boast a similar record, with Arsenal scoring 45 goals in 19 matches and Spurs finding the net on 43 occasions, having played a game more, though five came in a 5-0 thrashing of Norwich City on the final day of last season.

Defence is where Arsenal have shown the biggest improvement, conceding 17 goals in 19 matches – just 14 of which have been this season – while Spurs have conceded 25 goals in the same period,

Those improvements for Arsenal have put them 15 points better off than they were at the same stage last season, while Spurs have exactly the same points total as they did at the halfway mark last year.

Kane leading the way as Arsenal come of age

Unsurprisingly, England captain Harry Kane has the best goalscoring record since the two sides met at the back end of last season, scoring 17 goals in 20 games – 15 of which have come this season, only Erling Haaland (21) having more.

A lack of goals from alternative sources has been an issue, however, with Son Heung-min scoring six in the Premier League since May 13, 2022, and Richarlison yet to find the net for Spurs in his 10 Premier League appearances.

Arsenal's top-scorer in the same period is Gabriel Martinelli (eight goals in 19 appearances), though Bukayo Saka is closely behind with six and Eddie Nketiah's fine run since stepping up to replace the injured Gabriel Jesus leaves him with three goals in 17 appearances, only five of which have been as a starter.

Saka (seven) and Martinelli (three) both have more assists than Kane, Richarlison and Son (two), though the England captain's tally of goals gives him the best minutes per goal/assist average of 105 minutes, with Arsenal's best being Nketiah (189 minutes).

Nketiah (17 per cent), Saka and Martinelli (both 15 per cent) have been similarly efficient in front of goal, while Kane's 21.8 per cent shot conversion rate is significantly higher than Son (11.5 per cent).

The fairly even spread of Arsenal's attacking options displays the shared responsibility that Arteta's side have in the final third, whereas Kane continues to carry his team-mates.

Kane stands as the highest-scoring player of all-time in the north London derby with 14 goals, scoring in all but one of his eight home Premier League games against the Gunners as he stands one away from matching Jimmy Greaves' all-time record for the club of 266.

Thiago Silva labelled Pele as "forever the king of football" as tributes flooded in from Brazil players after the Selecao great's death on Thursday.

The three-time World Cup winner suffered multiple organ failure after being moved to palliative care in Sao Paulo earlier in December when his body stopped responding to cancer treatment.

Sao Paolo's Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital confirmed the cause of the 82-year-old's death before tributes poured in from players, clubs and sporting organisations.

Pele helped Brazil to World Cup success in 1958, 1962 and 1970, with no player in the tournament's history winning more, and the likes of Silva and Casemiro joined in sharing their memories of the former forward.

"Forever the king of football, the Legend!," Chelsea centre-back Silva posted on Twitter alongside a crown emoji. "Rest in peace, Pele. You have changed the history of football.

"Your legacy will always be in our hearts. Thanks for everything!"

Manchester United midfielder Casemiro, who played alongside Silva as Brazil fell to World Cup quarter-final elimination in Qatar, echoed a similar sentiment.

"Rest in peace, king Pele. Thank you for the glory you gave to Brazil and football. Your legacy is eternal," he wrote on social media.

Casemiro's United team-mate Antony labelled Pele as an "example", posting: "The biggest of all! The king, the inspiration, the example, the only one, the ETERNAL!!"

Pele's 77-goal international haul remains a benchmark among Brazilian players, though Neymar matched that record with his World Cup quarter-final strike against Croatia in Qatar.

That scoring form from the former Santos forward inspired numerous current Brazil stars, with young Real Madrid forward Rodrygo recalling the tales told of Pele.

He wrote on Twitter: "What a sadness! 12/29 from today will always become a sad date. We grew up in Santos hearing people talk about you every day, how good you were at playing and as a person. 

"Thank God I had the opportunity to meet you in person…"

Richarlison, who excelled as the central striker for Brazil on the global stage in Qatar, added: "Today, football says goodbye to its most beautiful chapter.

"From the guy who dedicated his thousandth goal to children, stopped wars and showed an entire country that he could do more. You are and always will be matchless and eternal, King.

"Thank you and may God welcome you with open arms."

Richarlison will spend three to four weeks on the sidelines as a result of the hamstring injury he sustained at the World Cup, Tottenham boss Antonio Conte has confirmed.

The Brazil forward scored three goals during an impressive campaign in Qatar, including a brilliant acrobatic volley in the Selecao's 2-0 group-stage win over Serbia.

However, Richarlison's World Cup ended in disappointing fashion as he was forced off early in Brazil's quarter-final defeat by Croatia on penalties.

The former Everton man underwent an MRI scan earlier this week, with Conte subsequently confirming he will sit out the festive period.

"I spoke with the medical department, they told me we need three to four weeks," the Tottenham boss said. "His injury was a serious injury.

"I followed all my players at the World Cup with my fingers crossed, because you know very well you can lose important players. It happened with Richarlison, who had a problem, [Rodrigo] Bentancur and Ben Davies."

Absent from their Boxing Day trip to Brentford, Richarlison is now a doubt for Spurs' Premier League fixtures against Arsenal and Manchester City.

Conte's side face their north London rivals on January 15, before taking on the reigning champions four days later.

Richarlison will undergo an MRI scan to determine the severity of the hamstring injury he sustained at the World Cup, Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte has revealed.

Richarlison scored three times in Brazil's run to the last eight in Qatar – including a brace in their group-stage opener against Serbia – after recovering from a calf injury ahead of the World Cup.

However, the Spurs attacker was forced off with a hamstring issue in Brazil's quarter-final clash with Croatia, with the Selecao going on to lose a penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw.

Spurs resume their Premier League campaign against Brentford on Monday, and while Ben Davies and Rodrigo Bentancur have returned from the World Cup in good condition, Conte faces an anxious wait on Richarlison's fitness.

"Ben Davies is okay and started to work with us last week. He has recovered," Conte told the club's website on Tuesday.

"Rodrigo has started to work. I think that he's going to be good for the game against Aston Villa [on January 1].

"For Richy, tomorrow he's going to have an MRI to know very well the importance of the injury. After tomorrow, we will see very well the time he needs to recover."

Spurs have spent much of this season battling injuries to key attackers, but Conte's side still entered the World Cup break fourth in the Premier League table, three points behind second-placed Manchester City.

Brazil legend Pele has paid tribute to Richarlison, telling the forward to "never change" after the Selecao were knocked out of the World Cup.

Pre-tournament favourites Brazil crashed out of the tournament in Qatar when they were beaten by Croatia at the quarter-final stage on Friday.

Tite's side had hoped to earn their sixth World Cup title before they suffered heartbreak, prompting Richarlison to post an apology to fans on social media.

But Pele - who has been hospitalised amid the tournament back home in Sao Paulo - has offered his encouragement to the 25-year-old, crediting him for his resolve.

"Just keep on keeping on kid," he wrote underneath the former Everton man's Instagram post. "And never change. You made Brazil smile."

Richarlison - who departed the tournament with three goals to his name, including a sensational overhead kick against Serbia in the group stage - emotionally reflected on a missed opportunity.

"Writing this is definitely the hardest thing I've ever done in my life," he penned. "This is a wound that will stay open forever, because we all know the chances we had to get that title.

"My friends and I are going to have to live with it. Some (or many) won't even get another chance. Now it's time to lick our wounds, apologise to all of you and get our head straight."

Brazil's exit represents their fifth successive shortfall in the World Cup, with the Selecao having only reached the semi-finals once since they last won the tournament in 2002.

Croatia will play Argentina next week in the first semi-final, with the 2018 runners-up looking to make feature in back-to-back finals.

Neymar wants to take time to "mourn" Brazil's World Cup exit as he hailed the team's youngsters for stepping up in the Selecao's penalty shoot-out loss to Croatia.

Brazil, the pre-tournament favourites, are heading out after going down 4-2 on penalties following a 1-1 draw with the 2018 runners-up at Education City Stadium.

Neymar opened the scoring with a wonderful goal midway through extra time on Friday, a strike that took him level with the great Pele on 77 goals for Brazil.

Yet Bruno Petkovic scored with four minutes remaining, with Rodrygo and Marquinhos failing to convert their penalties as Brazil's wait for a sixth world title rolled on.

Neymar did not take a spot-kick, though perhaps would have been in line to take Brazil's fifth had it gone that far.

He had nothing but praise for the team-mates that stepped up, as the 30-year-old conceded he was unsure what is next for Brazil, who will have a new coach after Tite confirmed his time in charge had come to an end.

"The feeling is really bad. It's worse today than what happened in the past," Neymar said.

"Unfortunately, it's hard to find words to describe this moment. We tried, we fought, and I'm proud of all my team-mates.

"I'm proud of their personality, of taking the penalty, of their character, because it's not easy to assume that responsibility.

"Rodrygo is a very young boy and every time they came in and played, I always told them: 'This responsibility is mine, I'm the oldest, you have to play football.' 

"But he's so out of the curve, he's an ace, and he wanted to take responsibility for the penalty. You can only miss if you hit. Unfortunately, the ball did not go in.

"Not only him, but we will all learn from this. I don't know what will happen from now on in the Brazilian team, but now it's time to mourn."

Neymar had been in tears at full-time, and had to be consoled by team-mates on the field.

Richarlison, meanwhile, was crying as he spoke to reporters well over an hour after the final whistle.

"I think we did almost everything right," Richarlison said. "Unfortunately, we will not crown the excellent work we built. Now it's time to suffer a little.

"I have to apologise to our family members and our fans who believed in us until the end. Now it's time to go to the bedroom and cry because we are human beings, we are flesh and blood. We suffered a very painful defeat."

Brazil produced the best display of Qatar 2022 so far with an emphatic 4-1 victory over South Korea at Stadium 974 on Monday to set up a quarter-final tie with Croatia.

The Selecao were four goals up inside 36 minutes – only the second time in their World Cup history they have scored four times in the first half of a match – in a one-sided tie.

Neymar returned to Brazil's line-up – back to full strength after their 1-0 loss to Cameroon – and he netted from the penalty spot after Vinicius Junior had opened the scoring.

Richarlison and Lucas Paqueta put the game well out of reach and there was no way back for South Korea, though they did have a moment so savour courtesy of Paik Seung-ho's goal in the second half.

Raphinha pulled the ball back for Vinicius to curl into the top-right corner after seven minutes and Brazil had a quickfire second goal when Neymar converted from the penalty spot.

Richarlison won that penalty after being caught by Jung Woo-young, and he was himself among the goals when finishing after Thiago Silva picked him out with a first-time pass.

Brazil were completely out of sight by the interval as Paqueta rounded off another fine attack that culminated in Vinicius clipping the ball into his path to volley home.

A double change at the interval led to an improved display from South Korea, who after forcing Alisson into a few saves scored through a long-range Paik strike that took a deflection.

What does it mean? Samba stars put on a show

Brazil toiled for large parts of their wins over Serbia and Switzerland prior to suffering a shock defeat to Cameroon, but back at full strength here they laid down a real marker.

South Korea's first knockout-stage game in this competition since 2010 could not have gone much worse, with Tite's men out of sight well before half-time.

Five-time winners Brazil have advanced from their past eight World Cup last-16 ties and will now face 2018 beaten finalists Croatia, who earlier defeated Japan on penalties.

Brazil find their scoring touch

Brazil scored a rather underwhelming three goals from 57 shots in the group stage, compared to three goals from their first five efforts against South Korea.

The Selecao were a lot more clinical than they were in the first round, though their opponents' set-up also played right into their hands – a mistake Croatia will surely not make.

Returning Neymar back among the goals

Neymar was back in the side after missing the past two games through injury and he registered his 76th goal for Brazil, placing him one short of Pele's all-time record.

The Paris Saint-Germain superstar, whose past six goals for the Selecao have come from the penalty spot, will look to match and surpass the Brazil great in Qatar.

What's next?

Brazil have that quarter-final tie with Croatia to look forward to in Al Rayyan on Friday, while South Korea's campaign in Qatar is now over.

Richarlison believes God recognised his effort to get to the World Cup, as the Brazil forward turned his focus to Monday's clash with Switzerland.

Tottenham attacker Richarlison scored both of the Selecao's goals in their opening 2-0 win over Serbia on Thursday.

After bundling in a rebound, Richarlison scored the goal of the tournament so far to double Brazil's tally, sending an acrobatic attempt into the left-hand corner.

Richarlison has scored nine goals in his last seven appearances for Brazil in all competitions, becoming the eighth Brazilian to score a brace on his World Cup debut, and first since Neymar in 2014.

Since his debut for the national side in September 2018, Richarlison has scored more goals in all competitions for Brazil than any other player (19).

 

However, his World Cup participation was in doubt when he suffered a calf injury while in action for Spurs against his former side Everton in October.

"A few weeks ago, I was crying, not sure if it would come," Richarlison said, as quoted by the CBF's official website.

"On the day of the exam, it was one of the longest days of my life. I remember it was a day off and I went for the exam, I stayed on the stretcher waiting for the result to come out.

"The doctors went back and forth, I got nervous and time went slowly.

"So, I think it was worth all the effort in my recovery. God saw my effort, saw how much I wanted to come to the World Cup.

"That's it, now it's time to continue. We did the main thing, which was to win the first game, which is very important. Now it's time to think about the second game and rest well. It was the first, now there are six more important games."

Brazil are favourites to top Group G, but Switzerland will be no pushovers. They won their first match too, beating Cameroon 1-0 thanks to Breel Embolo's goal.

Switzerland are looking to win their opening two games at a World Cup for the first time. They last won consecutive games in the competition in 2006 against Togo and South Korea.

Brazil will be without Neymar, however, with their talisman having suffered an ankle injury against Serbia that will see him miss the meeting with Switzerland, though coach Tite was confident the Paris Saint-Germain star will feature again in Qatar.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Brazil – Vinicius Junior

Richarlison rightly took the limelight for his efforts against Serbia, but he is not the only quality attacker Brazil have at their disposal.

With Neymar out, the onus will be on Vinicius Junior – who has shown his world-class ability at Real Madrid – to step up.

Before he was taken off inside the final 15 minutes of Thursday's match, Vinicius had been involved of 50 per cent of Brazil's 16 shots, having four attempts himself and creating as many chances, including the assist for Richarlison's stunning second.

Switzerland – Breel Embolo

Embolo has scored in three of his last four matches for Switzerland, with all three of his strikes being the winner in each game.

The last Swiss player to score in consecutive World Cup games was Alexander Frei in 2006, while the only players to score in Switzerland's first two games at a World Cup are Leopold Kielholz in 1934 and Andre Abegglen in 1938.

PREDICTION

Brazil are unbeaten in their last 16 group stage games at the World Cup, and they are aiming to become the first team to go 17 without defeat in the group stages of the competition.

Opta's model backs them to do just that, giving Brazil a 62.7 per cent chance of victory.

The probability of a draw is 21 per cent, while Opta rate the likelihood of a Switzerland win at 16.3 per cent.

Casemiro is confident Brazil can get by without Neymar for now as he backed "the star of the team" to get fit in time for the business end of the World Cup.

An ankle ligament injury forced Neymar to be substituted late on in Brazil's 2-0 win over Serbia on Thursday, as they got their Qatar 2022 campaign under way.

Richarlison scored both of Brazil's goals, and the Tottenham striker's form is one factor that gives holding midfielder Casemiro heart.

Neymar will certainly miss the game against Switzerland on Monday, and most likely the clash with Cameroon on Friday.

Whether he can recover in time to feature in the knock-out stages remains to be seen, but Brazil are optimistic.

Casemiro, quoted by Brazilian newspaper Globo, said: "If we keep talking about Neymar, we'll stay here for days, because of his importance.

"He's the star of the team, who makes the difference. But we have other similar players: Raphinha, Vini [Vinicius Junior], Richarlison. We have a wide range of options.

"Neymar is one of the best in the world, and unfortunately he will not be in the next game, but we have quality players to replace him, but of course not at his level."

Casemiro cited Lucas Paqueta of West Ham as a player who might come into the starting line-up and bring added verve in Neymar's absence.

"He is another important player," Casemiro said. "Very dynamic, modern. He plays outside, inside, false nine."

Defender Danilo is also on the Brazil sidelines for now, but Manchester United star Casemiro is backing both to pull out all the stops to be back in contention for Tite's starting side.

"Danilo and Neymar are working morning, afternoon and night, making the greatest effort in the world. They know they are important," Casemiro said.

"We have great professionals and health comes first. They will do everything to return 100 per cent as soon as possible."

France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris believes Richarlison has proven his qualities for Brazil, silencing his doubters with a double against Serbia.

Richarlison was the star of the show for Brazil in Doha on Thursday, as Tite's team started their World Cup campaign with a 2-0 victory at Lusail Stadium.

The Tottenham forward tucked in an opportunistic opener in the 62nd minute, before lashing an acrobatic attempt into the left-hand corner to seal the victory in style.

Brazil's win was marred by an ankle injury for Neymar, though Tite was confident the Paris Saint-Germain star would recover.

Asked about his Spurs team-mate, as well as Neymar's injury, while previewing France's Group D clash with Denmark, Lloris said: "Neymar is an icon in global football, but I'm not going to talk about him that much, I don't know how serious the injury is.

"For Richarlison, I'm delighted for him, he's not one of the better-known players in the Brazil squad and maybe not everyone expected to be in XI, but he's a great player, a great goalscorer – as he proved with the first goal but then a wonderful second goal.

"[It was] spectacular, and the best goal of the tournament so far, so that's great for him.

"We know how good a team Brazil is, they're favourites. They'll be delighted to win the first game, that's what they needed to do, to get out on the front foot."

Holders France can seal their place in the last 16 by beating Denmark on Saturday, though they go into that match having lost their last two meetings with the Danes, both of those defeats coming in this year's Nations League.

Lloris said: "It gives you an idea of the level of this Danish team, it's an excellent side and capable of beating the best.

"It's been a wake-up for us, we can't say we don't know them and we don't need extra motivation, [it's] a decisive game for qualification. If you look at the first games between Tunisia and Denmark, you can see that we have a lot of work to do. Every team is in a good place."

"They are underestimated," France coach Didier Deschamps said of Denmark, who have kept a clean sheet in three of their last five World Cup games.

"We're talking about just between June and September where they beat us twice and made life difficult. We have to make sure that's not the case. It's not a question of revenge, we know their players, they know us.

"We'll learn from those experiences but Denmark can learn too."

Tite admitted it was a tough call to pick a starting striker, but he was thrilled with the performance of Richarlison after netting both of Brazil's goals in their 2-0 victory against Serbia on Thursday.

Richarlison got the nod at number nine ahead of Arsenal's Gabriel Jesus and Flamengo's Pedro, and after a scoreless first half, he was on hand to prod home the opener in the 62nd minute after Vinicius Junior's shot was parried into his path.

That would just be the appetiser, as just 10 minutes later he produced what will be a contender for goal of the tournament as he controlled Vinicius' shin-high cross with his left foot, popping it up in the air before acrobatically spinning and volleying it home over his shoulder with his right boot.

It was his 19th senior international goal, to go with 88 club goals in his career, and after the match he said he believes it could be his best.

"It was a beautiful goal," he told reporters. "Probably one of the nicest in all of my career.

"It's the World Cup, it was a tough match… it was one of the nicest goals I have ever scored."

Tite spoke about how agonising it was to choose between the wealth of forward talent at his disposal, but also of how impressed he was by Richarlison, particularly in the second half.

"I must tell you, I had six or seven names to call [as striker], and whoever I called, we would have had a great team," Tite said. 

"So we came with Pedro, Richarlison and Gabriel. We could have had [Gabriel] Barbosa, we could have had Firmino, we could have had [Matheus] Cunha, we could have had Hulk. We have a huge number, and you have to pick someone.

"Richarlison is fantastic, we see how he controls the ball… in the second half he created a lot of volume, he adjusted, he calmed down a little bit, he was more precise in his passes.

"The first touch of the ball is crucial to make it flow, and then he started with volume, volume, volume of plays."

When asked if he was potentially disappointed with how much of a struggle things were early on, Tite made it clear he does not view Serbia as an easy fixture.

"Serbia were very, very good, very quick in the first half," he said. "But here, you have to keep that rhythm, and keep that level of marking during the entire match.

"They ended the first half very quick, very good technical skill, they were able to start the ball and put it into play quickly, and we weren't able to stop them from putting the ball into play.

"They are a team, which in the qualifiers they took out Portugal, and in a very consistent manner they played in the qualifiers with opponents at a very high level. They are a great team, and we were able to control them in both halves. We were able to produce more offensively in the second half because of our fine-tuning.

"They had very, very high quality. There was always a lot of pressure, so it did require a lot from us."

Brazil will continue their campaign in Group G on Monday when they take on Switzerland, before closing their group stage against Cameroon next Friday.

Richarlison scored twice as Brazil opened their World Cup campaign with a routine 2-0 win over Serbia.

The Tottenham forward broke the deadlock with a close-range finish just after the hour mark at the Lusail Iconic Stadium.

Richarlison then sealed the points with a stunning acrobatic effort 17 minutes from time as Tite's side made a winning start in Group G.

The Selecao remain unbeaten in their opening match at the finals since 1934, when they lost 3-1 to Spain in the first round.

Unbeaten in their past 15 World Cup group games, Brazil controlled the first half, but without creating many goalscoring opportunities.

Casemiro tested Vanja Milinkovic-Savic with an ambitious effort from distance, while the Serbia goalkeeper was quickly off his line to prevent Vinicius Junior latching onto Thiago Silva's precise throughball.

The Selecao carved their opponents' defence open with a neat one-two between Raphinha and Lucas Paqueta in the 35th minute, but the Barcelona forward could only shoot straight at Milinkovic-Savic.

Brazil carried a greater threat after the break. Milinkovic-Savic rescued Serbia by denying Raphinha, who had dispossessed Nemanja Gudelj outside his own penalty area, while Neymar fired wide from close range.

Alex Sandro rattled the post from 30 yards before the Samba Boys finally broke through in the 62nd minute; Richarlison prodding home the rebound after Milinkovic-Savic parried Vinicius' initial effort. 

Richarlison then gave Brazil breathing space in emphatic fashion 11 minutes later; controlling Vinicius' low, hard cross with his left foot, before swivelling and sending a magnificent acrobatic volley flying into the bottom corner with his right.

Tite's side almost increased their advantage as Casemiro hit the crossbar and Milinkovic-Savic denied Rodrygo, but the two-goal margin was enough to lift them to the Group G summit.

Raphinha hopes Brazil will have reason to dance in celebration at the World Cup as he joked Tite's side have 10 routines rehearsed for goals.

Brazil are among the tournament favourites in Qatar ahead of their Group G opener on Thursday against Serbia as the Selecao aim for a first World Cup triumph since 2002.

Barcelona winger Raphinha was one of many to celebrate in support of Vinicius Junior, who was told in September by a Spanish journalist to stop dancing "to respect your mates and stop playing the monkey".

Gabriel Jesus, Neymar and Richarlison – all members of Tite's 26-man squad in the Middle East – were other notable supporters of Brazil team-mate Vinicius.

Raphinha appears a likely contender to start for the five-time world champions and he intends to give Brazil further reason to celebrate in style at the World Cup.

"To tell you the truth, we already have dances prepared for up to the 10th goal," an upbeat Raphinha said on Monday.

"We have some 10 dances prepared for each match, one for the first, one for the second, one for the third ... If we score more than 10, then we'll have to start innovating."

Pedro, Antony and Gabriel Martinelli are the other attacking options at Tite's disposal and Raphinha has no doubts Brazil will go out to play free-flowing football.

"With Vinicius we gain more speed on the attack, while with [Lucas] Paqueta we have more control near the midfield," former Leeds United forward Raphinha added.

"But Brazil has a characteristic of always being offensive-minded, no matter who gets to play."

Richarlison, like Raphinha, will be a World Cup debutant for Brazil after scoring 17 goals in his 38 appearances for the Selecao since his debut in 2018.

The Tottenham striker wants to produce performances befitting of the number-nine shirt handed to him as he aims to follow in the footsteps of the legendary Ronaldo Nazario.

"When you wear the number nine jersey with the Brazilian national team, all you want to do is score goals," Richarlison said. "With these team-mates, I'm sure the goals will come."

Neymar came into criticism for posting a photo with six stars on his shorts, referencing a hopeful Brazil triumph at the World Cup, but Richarlison has no problem admitting the Selecao's hopes.

"We are dreamers, we are going after this sixth star no matter what people are going to say," he added.

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