When the World Cup draw was made last December, I don't think anyone doubted Brazil chances to make it out their group. Serbia, Switzerland, and Costa Rica all seemed like unworthy opponents of Joga Bonito FC.
But two games in and with impressive performances by Serbia and Switzerland, Brazil could be headed out at the close of next Wednesday.
Yes, Brazil finished off Costa Rica two-nil, but it took deep in to stoppage time for them to actually convince the casual viewer they could muster three points. And even then most of us were left with doubts.
After watching Serbia's performance vs Costa Rica (a 1-0 victory which they dominated and should have been awarded a penalty kick) and then against Switzerland (a 2-1 loss, that was impressive for both sides), it's clear the Brazilians have their work cut out.
Surely, Serbia still has to beat Brazil and Switzerland can't lose to Costa Rica, but it's no longer implausible that scenario happens. Costa Rica has looked a shadow of the inspired 2014 side. And both Serbia and Switzerland look more than capable of getting the results they need.
In all my life watching soccer (since the 1990 World Cup as an 8 year old), I've not seen a Brazil side this up in the air. Maybe the 1998 final, but even then most of us had the confidence they'd pull it out--they lost 3-0 to France. Maybe even in 2002, when they struggled to qualify for the World Cup, but managed to find a way to win it all.
The difference between 1998/2002 and today, is that Neymar is a playmaker rather than a goal scorer. Ronaldo, the original and still the more talented one, finished off chances his teammates created. Sure he could create things out of nothing, but he didn't force his teammates to play every offensive movement through him. The current Seleção, however, has to run everything through Neymar. And much like the situation with their neighbor to the West, they're easily stymied by the lack of dynamism up top despite being stacked with talent.
A Serbia side with conviction and sense of purpose could derail hopes of a deep run for the Brazilians. This World Cup could do with a little bit of excitement and maybe Brazil heading home after the group stage is exactly what we need.