Neymar shows the stres. Photograph: Damir Sagolj/ Reuters
7) Brazilian insecurities must be suppressed
It was merely one lapse, and Tite, his players and the rest of Brazil’s 200 million-plus population continue to insist that Switzerland’s equaliser in Rostov on Sunday ought to have been disallowed for a pushing. But something shocking happened after the goal went in. Brazil went to pieces. All of a sudden, their control was gone for a period of about 15 minutes. It seemed to chime with how Brazil lives its football- via wild extremes of feeling. Tite would talk about anxiety, huge pressure and opening-night nerves and it was easy to remember how the
Selecao have been tracked by tears and trauma at previous World Cups, not least the last one. Brazil stabilised and they threw everything at Switzerland during a chaotic finale only for the win to evade them. Tite’s squad have the talent. The biggest combat they face could be with their internal equilibrium. David Hytner
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8) The fans are taking football to the streets
As a gaggle of Russian, Serbian and Costa Rican fans strolled down Molodogvardeyskaya Ulitsa, in the centre of Samara, person created a football. It was past midnight and everybody was making such a route home after a long day that started in the stadium and finished with a viewing of Brazil v Switzerland in the FanZone. Any tiredness was forgotten as an impromptu match have broken out in the street, its participants bridging language issues with a pass here and a trick there. Russia and Serbia do, in fairness, have a long-established relationship but the scene was typical of the friendships that have been formed in the more provincial cities. The craving for culture exchange has been heartfelt: Samara, to take one example, was a closed city until 1991 and there has been visible feeling at the sight of football’s biggest depict, and its accompanying melange of international guests, rolling into township. It is genuinely heartwarming to see this opportunity being comprehended so securely.
9) The Tony Pulis World Cup
What on earth is going on with all the set-piece objectives at this World Cup? After merely 15 games in Russia, we had witnessed more objectives from direct free-kicks than in the entire tournament in Brazil. Colombia’s Juan Quintero joined Serbia’s Aleksandar Kolarov, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin by beating a goalkeeper with a brilliant dead-ball strike from outside the region. Nine penalties have been given already( merely 13 were awarded in total in Brazil) and 22 of the 38 goals( 55%) scored in the first round of group matches came via a set-piece. In fact, the Colombia-Japan game delivered a clean sweep. On top of Quintero’s free-kick, Shinji Kagawa converted criminal penalties and Yuya Osako headed in Keisuke Honda’s corner. The introduction of VAR has clearly played a part in the penalty count but how do we explain the rest? Either way, Tony Pulis is having a field day.
Stuart James 10) The peaceful South American invasion
A World Cup in Brazil was always going to be well-attended by the other South American countries for obvious reasons, but it has been truly remarkable to see supporters from that part of the World travelling to Russia in such huge numbers and, in the case of Saransk, pretty much taking over the city and the stadium. Peru, who are the eighth-best supported country at the World Cup according to the number of official tickets sold in each nation, attained the Mordovia Arena feel like a home venue against Denmark on Saturday. And Colombia, who sold 65,234 official tickets for these finals, which is more than twice as many as England, did something similar at the same stadium for their match against Japan on Tuesday. Listening to the stories that fans tell, explaining the sacrifices they have made, it shines through that watching their national team play entails a lot more to them than people in many other countries, in particular in Europe and including England.