There are, broadly speaking, two schools of thought over pre-tournament friendlies. There are those who prefer to face modest opponents, hoping for a morale-boosting victory. Others favour a stiffer challenge, believing a tough, competitive game to be more suitable preparation for the real thing.
Brazil's game against Panama earlier this week would have appeased the former camp: while Luiz Felipe Scolari peddled the line that Los Canaleros were some kind of Mexico-lite, the Seleção's comfortable 4-0 victory did not tell us a great deal about their readiness for the big kick-off on June 12. That match was about building fitness and avoiding injury.
Friday evening's meeting with Serbia, however, was a different story entirely. This was no relaxing kick-about before the World Cup; rather, Scolari's men were for long periods given the run-around by a side who finished below Belgium and Croatia – Brazil's first opponents in Group A – in their qualifying group.
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