Brazil vs Switzerland
Venue: Rostov Arena
Kick off: 7:00pm
Much-fancied Brazil get their World Cup campaign underway when they take on Switzerland in Group E in Rostov this evening.
The five-time champions look to have returned to their best under head coach Tite and were the first team to qualify for the tournament.
They have continued their impressive form in their warm-up games and forwards Willian, Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus, Philippe Coutinho and Neymar all looked in good shape in wins over Croatia and Austria.
Brazil will also be looking to banish some demons after being humiliated 7-1 by Germany at the last World Cup as tournament hosts.
They are one of the favourites to win the World Cup, for a record sixth time, and have only lost once in 21 games under Tite.
Tite will lead Brazil into the World Cup finals for the first time against Switzerland on Sunday
“The 7-1 is no longer in our heads, we have the level to be world champions again and re-write our history,” said defender Thiago Silva.
“We have greater confidence,” added midfielder Paulinho. “Brazil are better prepared in a number of ways. That is just part of football. In four years you learn a lot of things.”
Standing in Brazil’s way are a Switzerland side who are ranked sixth in the world after winning nine games in a row in qualifying.
They were also unbeaten in four warm-up games, including a 1-1 draw with Spain.
And manager Vladimir Petkovic, leading the country into a World Cup for the first time, admitted he has taken special measures to stop Neymar, who recovered from a broken foot in time to play his part in the tournament.
“Of course Neymar is an exceptional player,” said Petkovic. “It is difficult to hold him back throughout an entire match. Along with Cristiano Ronaldo, he is one of the strongest players in the world.
“We have to prepare mentally to play against such strong players.”