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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 15 October 2018

World Cup 2018: Day 4 as it happened - Switzerland hold Brazil as Mexico shock Germany

Serbia beat Costa Rica in day's first game, with Mexico shocking champions Germany, before Tite's Brazil held by Switzerland

Switzerland's Steven Zuber, second from right, scores his side's equaliser against Brazil. Themba Hadebe / AP Photo
Switzerland's Steven Zuber, second from right, scores his side's equaliser against Brazil. Themba Hadebe / AP Photo

12.20am - Monday's fun ahead

Right, that is for a Sunday that has left Germany and Brazil, too of the pre-tournament favourites, with things to ponder.

It is Group G that takes centre stage on Monday. Belgium face Panama at 7pm before England go up against Tunisia at 10pm.

Kicking things off at 4pm is South Korea v Sweden.

See you later on for action from World Cup 2018.

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11.55pm - Switzerland hold on for a draw

Brazil become the latest of the fancied sides to not start their World Cup campaign in winning fashion.

A sloppy moment early in the second half allowed Steven Zuber to head home from close range and cancel out Philippe Coutinho's first-half strike.

Brazil have their chances after that but cannot find a winner. Not a disaster by any means, given how well they played in patches, but the lack of cutting edge and the sloppy defending will be a concern for Tite.

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11.15pm - Switzerland are level

Out of nowhere Switzerland are level and we have an early test of Brazil's resolve.

It is awful marking from a corner as Steven Zuber is unmarked to head home from close range. Brazil are unhappy and believe Zuber may have shoved a defender to create room for himself but the officials are unmoved.

Brazil bossed the first half and only scored once. They need to step things up and try and find a response to the setback.

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10.50pm - Brazil 1-0 ahead at half time

Probably mixed feelings for Brazil. They have been great at times, and deservedly lead through Philippe Coutinho's long range effort.

Yet they are only one goal to the good. Switzerland have not threatened much, but as long as it stays like this they still have a shot.

Tite will want that second goal early in the second half so his players can relax and he can start making changes to try and give the likes of Neymar a rest.

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10.25pm - Coutinho scores

Brazil have the lead. And what a goal it was to get the breakthrough.

Switzerland half clear a ball in the box and Philippe Coutinho curls a powerful shot home from outside the box, which clips the post.

Brazil have been superb and this already looks like it will be a case of damage limitation for the Swiss.

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10.15pm - Brazil in charge, but without a goal

Switzerland are hanging on for dear life at present. It has been Brazil who have dominated the opening exchanges, with Neymar proving hard to pin down.

With pace and vigour in their forward line Brazil are too much for Switzerland. This is tempting fate but it is looking a case of when, and not if, Brazil score.

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9.35pm - Neymar starts for Brazil

The final game of Day 4 of the 2018 World Cup is almost upon us - Brazil v Switzerland.

Brazil have been boosted in the build-up to the game in Rostov as Neymar does start. This despite Tite admitting on Saturday the Paris Saint-Germain man was not "100 per cent".

With Gabriel Jesus, Willian and Philippe Coutinho also in the line-up this Brazil forward line looks mouthwatering.

Kick-off for the Group E clash is at 10pm UAE time.

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8.50pm - Mexico win

It is over. In hindsight, given how poor Germany have been in the build-up to the tournament, how big a shock this actually is can be open to question.

But credit to Mexico. They thoroughly deserve to win this Group F clash and it has thrown the group wide open.

Hirving Lozano's goal earns Mexico the win and they probably should have won by more.

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8.35pm - Mexico still in command

Fifteen minutes to go and Mexico are still looking good for an upset win.

They continue to look dangerous on the counter-attack and their defence is coping well with whatever Germany have to offer.

Not long to go!

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7.50pm - Mexico 1-0 ahead at half time

Fair play to Mexico. They have been terrific. They should have been ahead before Hirving Lozano netted, but they are well worth their lead over the defending champions.

Joachim Low's side have looked very ordinary and this will be an interesting test of their resolve after a troubled build-up.

7.40pm - Mexico lead

It had been coming. Mexico lead against the defending champions Germany, and deservedly so.

Germany lose the ball in their own half as Hirving Lozano stays composed to blast home past Manuel Neuer.

Germany have been underwhelming until now and while it is still early stages, are they in danger of following France (2002), Italy (2010) and Spain (2014) and being holders who fail to make it out of the group stages.

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7.15pm - We are underway in Moscow

Germany's bid to be the first side since Brazil in 1962 to retain the World Cup is underway. It is goalless after 10 minutes against Mexico in Moscow.

The Germans hardly set the world alight in the warm-up games before the tournament, losing to Austria and squeaking out a 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia.

Joachim Low's men will want to set an early marker but it is Mexico who have looked the more lively in the first 10 minutes.

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6.20pm - Atmosphere builds in Moscow

Moscow is Mexico. Our reporter John McAuley is in the Russian capital for the Group F match at the Luzhniki Stadium.

Scenes!

6.15pm - Ozil starts for Germany

Mesut Ozil will start Germany's World Cup Group F opener against Mexico on Sunday, after coach Joachim Low opted for the experienced midfielder instead of speedy Marco Reus.

Ozil, who days ago recovered from injury and had to deal with a barrage of criticism in Germany over a controversial photo with Turkey president Tayyip Erdogan, will partner Julian Draxler and Thomas Muller in the world champions' attacking midfield.

Low also made one change to his defence, replacing left back Jonas Hector with Marvin Plattenhardt.

Mexico's all-time top scorer Javier Hernandez earned a spot in coach Juan Carlos Osorio's line-up as they look for their first tournament win over Germany.

Germany's Mesut Ozil, front, has overcome a recent injury and is available for selection against Mexico, national team coach Joachim Low has said. Patrik Stollarz / AFP 
Germany's Mesut Ozil, front, has overcome a recent injury and is available for selection against Mexico, national team coach Joachim Low has said. Patrik Stollarz / AFP 

Starting line-ups for the World Cup match between Germany and Mexico in Group F in Moscow on Sunday:

Germany (4-2-3-1)

Manuel Neuer (capt); Joshua Kimmich, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, Marvin Plattenhardt; Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos; Mesut Ozil, Thomas Mueller, Julian Draxler; Timo Werner

Coach: Joachim Low (GER)

Mexico (4-3-3)

Guillermo Ochoa; Hugo Ayala, Carlos Salcedo, Hector Moreno, Jesus Gallardo; Hector Herrera, Andres Guardado (capt), Miguel Layun; Hirving Lozano, Javier Hernandez, Carlos Vela

Coach: Juan Carlos Osorio (COL)

Referee: Alireza Faghani (IRI)

5.56pm: Full time - Costa Rica 0-1 Serbia

Serbia's first outing at the 2018 World Cup ends with three points and many new admirers.

A solid base anchored by Matic and Milivojević in midfield allowed Milinković-Savić, Tadic and Ljajić to flourish ahead and support the lone striker Mitrovic.

Navas showed why he is one of the world's top goalkeepers to keep the score down to a one-goal margin, and on this evidence Costa Rica are going to have to show a lot more ambition on the ball in their remaining matches against Germany and Mexico if they are going to try and get out of the group.

Some argby bargy at the end. A member of the Costa Rican coaching staff bizarrely holds on to the ball as Matic tried to take a quick throw. Bizarre in that he was time wasting when his team needed to score.

VAR decided there was no case to answer then, but moments later Aleksandar Prijović was given a retrospective yellow card for flicking out an arm at a Costa Rican defender after VAR picked up the incident.

5.38pm: Serb trio pulling the strings

Flicks, tricks and dummies - the attacking midfield trio of Milinković-Savić, Tadic and Ljajić are going through their repertoire now. One dummy find Milinković-Savić with a sight of goal but the Lazio man fires wide. Starting to see why Lazio value him at €80 million and why we should listen to Ian Hawkey more closely.

Navas' fingertips deny Ljajić a chance to make it 2-0 and one run from Milinković-Savić sees him eat up about 50 yards of ground in about five strides.

5.33pm: Campbell on for Costa Rica

Joel Campbell, the man who had made just 40 appearances for Arsenal in seven years, has been introduced for his 79th cap and has added an attacking edge to Costa Rica.

Campbell forced the scrambling Serbia defence into a tackle before he could get a shot off on 72 minutes, showing he is capable of getting in behind in the Serbs don't pay him close attention.

Serbia sitting a little deeper, happy to let Costa Rica have more of the ball now.

Interesting fact: This is the longest run of games since the 1974 World Cup without a red card. The last player to be sent off at a World Cup was from Costa Rica, Oscar Duarte, who is playing in this match, receiving his marching orders in the last-16 match against Greece in Brazil four years ago.

5.17pm: Goal! (Kolarov 56 mins)

And what a goal. Serbia have been threatening to break the deadlock and it comes courtesy of a peach of a free kick from captain Kolarov.

The Roma defender curls one in over the wall into Navas' near post, and to think he looked like he may not even play after injuring himself in the warm-up.

The goal had been coming. Navas had denied Mitrovic only moments earlier. A neat one-two saw the Serb through one-on-one with Navas but the Costa Rica goalkeeper denied the burly striker with a good save.

Don't forget after this game we'll bring you live updates from Moscow where champions Germany begin their title defence against Mexico at the Luzhniki Stadium.

Our reporter John McAuley has just arrived. Check out the scenes.

5.02pm: Second half

They have kicked off for the second half at Samara Stadium with no changes to either team. Away from Samara and over in Grozny though, the Egypt team, complete with talisman Mohamed Salah, took part in training ahead of their crucial Group A match against hosts Russia on Tuesday.

Check out the images below.

We've published more stories on the Egyptian superstar today. Be sure to check them out too

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Read more:

Richard Jolly: Egypt holds its breath as they await the return of their chilled superstar Mohamed Salah

WATCH: Mohamed Salah gets a birthday cake from Chechen fans

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4.48pm: Half time

A shuddering challenge leaves Duško Tošić and Johnny Acosta both requiring treatment. Thankfully both are OK to continue. Urena creates a yard but fires his effort well over the bar as and Calvo drags an effort wide as Costa Rica look to get a foothold in the game.

Keylor Navas showing just why he is the first goalkeeper to win three consecutive Uefa Champions Leagues with Real Madrid with some commanding punches from dangerous Serbia crosses.

A spectacular bicycle kick from Milinković-Savić draws a fine save from Navas but again the linesman raises his flag.

The half ends goalless, but with Serbia showing glimpses of what the likes of Milinković-Savić, Tadic and Ljajić are capable of.

Serbia's Sergej Milinkovic-Savic attempts an overhead kick against Costa Rica. Dylan Martinez / Reuters
Serbia's Sergej Milinkovic-Savic attempts an overhead kick against Costa Rica. Dylan Martinez / Reuters

4.30pm: Serbia dictating the tempo

Costa Rica's Francisco Calvo in the book for a scything tackle on Dusan Tadic. Adem Ljajić is starting to find pockets of space between Costa Rica's midfield and defenders and Nemanja Matic and Luka Milivojević are exerting their dominance on proceedings, dictating the tempo of the game.

First real sighting for Sergej Milinković-Savić, who you may remember was Ian Hawkey's player to watch out for in our predictions, but the Serbia midfielder went too early with his run and was ruled offside. He hit a tame shot anyway so was probably glad to see the linesman's flag raised.

Still 0-0.

Marcos Urena of Costa Rica has his shot saved by Serbia goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic. Stu Forster/Getty Images
Marcos Urena of Costa Rica has his shot saved by Serbia goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic. Stu Forster/Getty Images

4.18pm: Both sides on the attack

Both sides have looked to create chances early on. Marcos Urena forced Serbia goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic into action early on and Giancarlo González wasted a great opportunity as he headed over with only Stojkovic to beat.

Serbia have looked threatening down the right-hand side through Dusan Tadic and the overlapping Branislav Ivanovic, but still 0-0 after 15 minutes

4pm: Kolarov leads Serbia out

Maybe the problem wasn't as bad as it looked for Serbia's captain as Aleksandar Kolarov leads out his country for the pre-match rituals of national anthems, handshakes and coin toss before the Group E match eventually gets under way.

Fans of Fulham may have divided loyalties in this match. Bryan Ruiz, who made nearly 100 appearances for the West London club between 2011-15, starts in midfield for Costa Rica while Aleksandar Mitrovic, who spent the second half of the recently concluded season on loan at Craven Cottage, helping them to promotion to the Premier League via the Championship play-off final, spearheads Serbia's attack.

Last Fulham reference for the day. We promise.

Interesting fact: Celso Borges and his father Alexandre Guimarães have represented Costa Rica in every World Cup they have played, either as a player or coach.

Serbia's Aleksandar Kolarov warms up before the match against Costa Rica. David Gray / Reuters
Serbia's Aleksandar Kolarov warms up before the match against Costa Rica. David Gray / Reuters

3.41pm: Problem for Kolarov?

Serbia captain Aleksandar Kolarov has pulled up in the warm-up, favouring his left knee by the looks of it.

Will Serbia risk the defender or ask to make a very late replacement, less than 20 minutes before kick off?

3.10pm: Ivanovic set to break Serbian record today

Branislav Ivanovic will become Serbia's most capped player after he was named in the side for their Group E opener against Costa Rica at the Samara Arena today.

The former Chelsea defender will make his 104th international appearance, surpassing the previous record of 103 which he held jointly with former midfielder Dejan Stankovic.

Serbia manager Mladen Krstajic, taking charge of his first competitive game, picked in-form striker Aleksandar Mitrovic to spearhead the attack.

Costa Rica have stuck with the spine of the team who reached the quarter-finals four years ago, with Real Madrid's Keylor Navas in goal, Deportivo la Coruna's Celso Borges in midfield and captain Bryan Ruiz as their main creative influence.

Costa Rica: Keylor Navas - Johnny Acosta, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Oscar Duarte, Francisco Calvo - Cristian Gamboa, Celso Borges, Bryan Ruiz - David Guzman, Johan Venegas, Marcos Urena

Manager: Oscar Ramirez (CRC)

Serbia: Vladimir Stojkovic - Dusko Tosic, Branislav Ivanovic, Aleksandar Kolarov - Nikola Milenkovic, Luka Milivojevic, Dusan Tadic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Nemanja Matic - Adem Ljajic, Aleksandar Mitrovic

Manager: Mladen Krstajic (SRB)

Serbia defender Branislav Ivanovic was once a mainstay at Chelsea. Matt Dunham / AP Photo
Serbia defender Branislav Ivanovic was once a mainstay at Chelsea. Matt Dunham / AP Photo

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2.10pm: More love for Salah as he gets birthday cake from fans

Egypt forward Mohamed Salah might have had a forgettable 26th birthday as his team lost to Uruguay in their World Cup opener on Friday, but a group of fans from Chechnya brought a smile to his face with a 100kg cake decorated with a golden boot.

Salah, who scored 44 goals for Liverpool last season, injured shoulder ligaments in the Uefa Champions League final defeat by Real Madrid on May 26 and was not risked in Egypt's 1-0 Group A loss to Uruguay in Yekaterinburg.

Meanwhile, Salah's Egypt teammate Sam Morsy speaks with our very own Richard Jolly on what it is to play alongside the Liverpool forward as a nation holds its breath over his fitness ahead of their crucial match against Russia.

"Nothing fazes him," Morsy tells Jolly. For full story, click this link.

Full story on the birthday celebration here, while video is below.

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12.50pm: Osorio says Mexico will look to attack against Germany

Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio pledged his team would go on the attack against defending World Cup champions Germany when the two sides meet in their opening game on Sunday.

Germany defeated Mexico 4-1 on the way to hoisting the Confederations Cup trophy in Russia last year, but Osorio said he will not alter his side's approach for the Group F showdown.

"It's a great opportunity for Mexican football, to be here and play the current world champions," Osorio told reporters in Moscow.

"They're a very strong team with wonderful players and very well managed. They're favourites to win the World Cup.

"They have two central midfielders very capable of commanding and controlling the game if we allow them to do it. [Toni] Kroos and [Sami] Khedira are two top-level midfielders.

"Nevertheless, we can compete with them, we think we have a good chance to match up with them and go head to head against them."

Mexico are appearing at a seventh successive World Cup, having fallen at the last-16 stage in each of the past six tournaments.

They have beaten Germany just once in 11 attempts, a 2-0 friendly win in 1985, but Osorio believes his players must ignore the team's poor record against the four-time world champions.

Mexico head coach Juan Carlos Osorio gives instructions to his players during Mexico's official training on the eve of the Group F match against Germany and Mexico at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. Eduardo Verdugo / AP Photo
Mexico head coach Juan Carlos Osorio gives instructions to his players during Mexico's official training on the eve of the Group F match against Germany and Mexico at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. Eduardo Verdugo / AP Photo

"You always have to play to win and not fear defeat. We have to be ready to play and really believe we can be a match for them.

"We're focusing on making sure that the players who play tomorrow understand this is a normal game like any others. If they can grasp that then I think we have a good chance of winning.

"Those playing for the first time in a World Cup, they need to remember it's just a football game."

Only a handful of the Germany players who started the 2017 Confederations Cup semi-final will start against Mexico at the Luzhniki Stadium.

Joachim Low rested several experienced regulars such as Kroos, Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mesut Ozil for that tournament to prioritise youth.

Osorio expects a vastly different encounter with those Germany stalwarts now back.

"In our opinion the Germany national team is very different now. In the Confederations Cup there was a very strong emphasis on the transitional game," said Osorio.

"Now it's a back four and so they had one extra player in midfield or attack. It's now more of a possession game so it brings a very different question to their play."

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Germany team news

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12.37pm: England step up preparations

England kick off their Group G campaign against Tunisia in Volgograd on Monday.

And when midfielder Dele Alli isn't busy showing off his skills with the arrows (scroll down to see the video) he is joining his teammates as they prepare to face the North Africans.

Check out the gallery below.

12.15pm: In Russia, football can be a dirty game

With the World Cup finally underway, football-loving Russians are getting dirty playing the beautiful game.

In the northern Leningrad region, mud-caked footballers have spurned conventional pitches and are playing in knee-deep swamps, leaving them exhausted, filthy and laughing.

You can either read full story and view a photo gallery here. Or simply watch a video of the spectacle below.

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11.29am: Gallery

Check out some images our photo desk have put together from Saturday's 1-1 draw between Argentina and Iceland.

In case you haven't heard, Lionel Messi had a penalty saved.

11.05am: Dele Alli getting into darts

England's Dele Alli relaxed with a game of darts at the team's World Cup base on Saturday (June 16) - the same day it was revealed that manager Gareth Southgate had already told the players his starting line-up for their opening match with Tunisia.

Dele is tipped to start as one of two attacking midfielders alongside Jesse Lingard, with Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson in a holding role behind.

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10.45am: Tite's tactics to keep Selecao fresh

In his latest piece for The National, Gary Meenaghan provides interesting insight into the preparations of a Brazil team considered top contenders for the World Cup.

In a bid to rebuild belief in the side, manager Tite has borrowed a tactic that recently worked well for Germany during the 2014 tournament, Meenaghan writes. The Germans were based in a luxurious camp in the northern state of Bahia, but were afforded the freedom to mix and mingle with the locals. It proved to be a good decision as they went on to win the tournament.

Click here for full story Read Meenaghan's piece on how Tite has incorporated this tactic to keep his players in a positive frame of mind.

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10.15am: Listen to the thunderclap!

Take one look at this video and you cease to wonder how Iceland managed to keep Argentina at bay on Saturday. Can Swiss fans match this magic during the game against Brazil tonight?

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9.50am: Neymar non-starter for Brazil's opening game?

Brazil manager Tite has said Neymar, who is still making a full-fledged return from injury, may not take part in the opening game against Switzerland.

The world's most expensive player had surgery after breaking a foot bone in February and only began playing again in two warm-up games for Brazil in the weeks before the World Cup began in Russia.

Here's what Tite had to say about Neymar's participation.

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9.30am - Day 4 is here

'Morning all! Action on Day 3 of the World Cup may not have provided the kind of madness we got to see on the previous days (read Russia v Saudi Arabia on Thursday and Spain v Portugal on Friday). But how can we ignore the fact Iceland made a cracking cup debut by holding mighty Argentina to a 1-1 draw.

Just to get a sense of what was going on in that game, you can read our European football correspondent Ian Hawkey's piece on the continued importance of that man Lionel Messi to the Albiceleste's fortunes. Read by clicking here.

Meanwhile, Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic has said his side will not change their playing style when they face Group D favourites Argentina following their victory over Nigeria in their World Cup opener, also on Saturday.

It was a dour game in Kaliningrad, but Dalic shrugged off the fact that scoring opportunities of both his team as well as opponents Nigeria resulted from set pieces.

Here's what former Al Ain manager Dalic had to say about Saturday's win.

Germany's players attend a training session in Vatutinki sport base outside Moscow. Sergei Ilnitsky / EPA
Germany's players attend a training session in Vatutinki sport base outside Moscow. Sergei Ilnitsky / EPA

Today's action

Today action starts at 4pm with the Group E game between Costa Rica and Serbia at the Samara Arena in the south-western Russian city of Samara.

It will be followed by the decidedly bigger Germany-Mexico clash, scheduled to kick off at 7pm in the Luzhniki Stadium at Moscow. Reigning champions Germany are considered among of the favourites for the title, although their warm-up matches suggest they are not the top contenders. Mexico will likely pose tricky opponents first up, too.

Current form suggests Brazil are the top contenders, four years after they got clobbered 7-1 at the hands of Germany in the semi-finals. They face Switzerland at 10pm at the Rostov Arena in Rostov-On-Don situated farther south and west of this enormous country.

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DOWNLOAD

While you stay tuned to what's coming up, why don't you download our wall chart to keep track of the games? You can get it here.

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You're in luck then.

Visit our World Cup landing page to read expert opinion and features throughout the June 14-July 15 tournament.

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