World Cup 2018, Serbia 0-2 Brazil: 3 player battles that defined the game
Brazil emerged victorious in their final game of Group E against Serbia, with the help of goals from Paulinho and Thiago Silva in the FIFA World Cup at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow.
The win ensured that Brazil finished at the top of their group ahead of Switzerland, who became the other team to qualify following their 2-2 draw against Costa Rica.
Tite's men started the game on the front foot and were duly rewarded for their attacking instincts in the 36th minute when Paulinho made a driving run from midfield to get on the end of a sublime pass over the top from Philippe Coutinho before the former nudged the ball above Vladimir Stojkovic to break the deadlock.
Serbia failed to register a single shot on target in the first half and Mladen Krstajic's men entered their best spell in the game shortly after the hour mark.
With Serbia needing a win to progress, the players pushed on to try and nick a goal back but they were ultimately caught out by a corner-kick from Neymar when Thiago Silva was allowed a free header on goal to extend the Selecao's lead on the night.
The result now means that Brazil, who finished above Switzerland with 7 points, will now take on Mexico in the pre-quarters while the Swiss are scheduled to take on Sweden in the next round. Without further delay, let's take a closer look at a number of key player battles that defined the game:
#3 Aleksandar Kolarov vs Willian
Douglas Costa's injury meant that Tite was forced to field Willian yet again despite the Chelsea winger disappointing massively during their win over Costa Rica. Deployed at the right flank for the Selecao on the night, Willian came up against Serbia skipper and probably their best player of the tournament in the form of left-back Aleksandar Kolarov.
The duo was involved in the thick of the action down that side for the majority of the game and it was Kolarov who had the last laugh on numerous occasions.
The former Manchester City defender was constantly overlapping to restrict Willian to his own half for prolonged periods of the game and was alert to the danger that Brazil possessed while going forward.
Kolarov took up positions deep inside Brazil's half during Serbia's best spell of the game and was undoubtedly the driving force behind many of their movements with the ball.
Despite ending up on the losing side, he certainly won his personal battle with Willian on the night.