Through one matchday of Group E play, the favorites Brazil are looking up at Serbia in the standings after a disappointing draw to Switzerland last weekend. On Friday, the five-time champions are back at it against 2014 quarterfinalists Costa Rica from Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg.
The good news for Brazil is that it will have its star Neymar in the starting lineup after he hobbled off during training midweek. The Paris Saint-Germain man was coming off a broken foot suffered in February and felt pain in his ankle on Tuesday.
It was almost a repeat of the 2014 World Cup, which ended in disaster for Brazil after Neymar broke a bone in his back during the quarterfinals against Colombia. Without him, Brazil was thumped 7-1 in the semifinals against eventual champions Germany.
The draw against Switzerland, which started well thanks to Philippe Coutinho's bending effort to open the scoring, was the third-straight World Cup match Brazil failed to win dating back to 2014. After its embarrassment to Germany, Brazil lost 3-0 to the Netherlands in the third-place game. One more draw or loss would set a Brazilian record for most consecutive matches without a win at the World Cup.
It will be meeting a Costa Rican side that is facing quite the uphill battle after an opening loss to Serbia. Los Ticos have been struggling mightily in front of goal, scoring just one goal in its last four World Cup matches. Still, the loss to Serbia was its first in four matches.
Costa Rica has not lost consecutive World Cup games since 2006, but that streak looks to be in serious jeopardy with Brazil looking to get going in Russia.
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Brazil has won nine of 10 matches all-time against Costa Rica including two at the World Cup.
Here is how you can catch all the action for Friday's first match:
Brazil v. Costa Rica viewing information
Date: Friday, Jun. 22
Time: 8 AM ET