World Cup 2018: 3 reasons why Brazil eased past Serbia
SCORE: Brazil (Paulinho 36'; Silva 68') 2-0 Serbia
The big boys have all struggled to settle into life in Russia in the group stages with the defending champions, and one of the favourites this time around as well, making an early exit. Portugal and Argentina, even Spain for that matter, squeezed past the tough competition posed by the minnows in this World Cup.
Brazil, too, got off to a nervy start - drawing their opener with Switzerland, followed by the stoppage-time victory over Costa Rica. Those vital three points put them in charge of their own fate with the final group stage fixture against Serbia to play.
Tite's men managed to get the job done with some room to spare against the Serbs and made sure of top spot in Group E and, as a result, will now face an impressive Mexico unit in the Round of Sixteen.
Two goals from Paulinho and Thiago Silva sealed the points and the fate of Serbia - who bow out of the competition. Here are 3 reasons why:
#3 Paulinho's lung-bursting tendencies
Not so long ago, the Brazilian was shoved into oblivion after a horrendous spell in London with Tottenham. Eyebrows were raised in Catalonia when Paulinho was brought in from China to add some rigidity to the slacking Barcelona midfield.
Not only did he add bite to the side, he also made his presence in the opposition penalty area felt with intelligently-timed runs into the box, getting on the end of crosses, and calmly slotting the ball into the back of the net.
This lead him to score 9 vital league goals last season for Barcelona. Not bad for someone who is expected to disrupt the opposition's play.
His desire to make those runs and finish off moves was at display for his national side tonight as he darted through the heart of the defence; Coutinho picking the eye of the needle. A deft touch to take it in his stride and then the delicate lob over the keeper to give Brazil the lead and the pressure was off.