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FIFA World Cup 2018: Brazilian fans rage at Switzerland defenders, referee after deadlock

Five-time FIFA World Cup winners Brazil left their large contingent of followers in Russia frustrated after being held 1-1 by a robust Switzerland in Sunday’s Group E opener in Rostov.

football Updated: Jun 18, 2018 18:32 IST
Bhargab Sarmah
Bhargab Sarmah
Hindustan Times, Moscow
FIFA World Cup 2018,Brazil vs Switzerland,Neymar
Brazilian fans were left frustrated after their team was held to a 1-1 draw by Switzerland in the FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E match in Rostov on Sunday. (AFP)

A number of Brazil fans who had arrived in Moscow ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup had stayed back in the city on the day of their Group E campaign opener against Switzerland in Rostov on Sunday.

“We have not travelled for the first game. Today, we will watch it with our friends in a bar. On Wednesday, we go to Saint Petersburg for Friday’s game (against Costa Rica),” said a Brazilian fan present at the Luzhniki Stadium here on Sunday during Mexico’s shock 1-0 win over defending champions Germany.

A handful of Brazilian fans were present at the ground for the second game of the day at the World Cup. Many more were scattered across the Russian capital.

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As Brazil played Switzerland an hour after the Mexico-Germany game, most of the Selecao fans were seen on the Tverskaya Street as pubs in the area televised the game on large screens.

At one such pub, a sizeable Brazilian crowd had gathered. As Philippe Coutinho’s curler handed Brazil the lead in the 20th minute, cheers of the fans had drowned the music playing in the background.

The music was stopped, it had become insignificant. For the rest of the first half, Switzerland frustrated Brazil and the mood in the pub had started to get sombre.

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A few minutes into the second half, after Steven Zuber equalised for the Swiss, the music resumed as the Brazilians fell silent. As discontent grew among the Brazilian fans with Switzerland’s rigid defending kept the five-time world champions at bay, Portuguese expletives were hurled whenever the camera focused on the Swiss defenders. The referee came in for similar treatment as fans accused him of being too lenient on some of Switzerland’s tackles.

Neymar was a persistent target of the Switzerland defence and every time he was brought down, frustration grew. As the full-time whistle blew, many fans quickly exited the pub. It wasn’t the start Brazil had anticipated.

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“The opponents played like thugs today. But we knew everyone would defend rough against Brazil and we should have done better. This is not how we are going to win the sixth championship,” said Marco, who has travelled from Sao Paulo to cheer his side.

Marco and his friends will make their way to St Petersburg for the afternoon kickoff against Costa Rica on Friday. As Tite’s side chases glory to atone for the semi-final slump in 2014, the onus will be on Neymar and Co to lift the mood among the fans, the large travelling contingent as well as those rooting for them back home.

First Published: Jun 18, 2018 18:32 IST