It’s fair to observe that any World Cup can never really start until Brazil have played. The magic of this most famous of tournaments never truly hits its peak until the Selecao’s stardust is sprinkled upon it.At this one, here in Qatar, the real tournament kicked off five days in with the five-time winners - and opponents Serbia - the 31st and 32nd teams to get their campaigns off and running.
They had top billing. After the undercard, the main event.For the swathes of yellow streaming into Lusail Stadium it wasn’t a moment too soon, the sight and sound and samba of it so synonymous with this grandest of stages.On the pitch the pressure, as it always is, remains on Neymar.
The talisman of talismans is of course still the star attraction, the mere mention of his name ahead of kick-off enough to deafen anyone within this cacophonous arena who could hear it.
Almost exactly the same age Pele was when he won the third of his three World Cups, if Brazil are to end their 20-year wait for the trophy they desire more than any other, you feel it will still come on the strength of another all-time great No 10’s otherworldly powers.But, unlike in so many years previous, this time he has help.Read more on independent.co.uk