Hosts Russia did their best to get the party started on Thursday, cranking up the music as the guests mingled but the atmosphere still felt a bit flat.
Portugal and Spain tried to liven things up with a few party tricks in the kitchen on Friday, while Germany cracked open the beers on Sunday, only to find they were flat and out of date.
Meanwhile, all eyes kept glancing towards the door. The life and soul of the gathering had yet to arrive.
Then finally, on Sunday night, Brazil rocked up to the World Cup carnival.
Their opener provided plenty of entertainment and a goal for the ages but Switzerland held firm to keep Group E wide open.
What else did we learn from Brazil’s stalemate with Switzerland?
1 No Brazil, no party
It was the moment football fans had been waiting for as favourites Brazil finally came spiralling into the World Cup party like a band of expert capoeiristas.
For many, the World Cup does not begin until the first Auriverde is waved. The colours of Brazil are woven into the fabric of the tournament.
And for the players, the quadrennial event is their own personal showcase. The chance to show the world how the game should be played, backed up by some able support acts.
Now Brazil have put their boots on the grass, the festivities can begin.
2 Swiss banking on next two games
Switzerland proved they are not a bad side.
Their sixth-place ranking may be a reflection on FIFA’s flawed algorithms rather than their own true level, but with games against Serbia and Costa Rica still to come, they look set for a place in the Last 16.
They tried to impose themselves in the opening minutes of the game but could not create a clear-cut chance. Tite’s men responded in emphatic fashion subjecting the Swiss to a torrent of attacking play that culminated in Coutinho’s trademark goal in the 20th minute.
After drawing level, they rode their luck and enjoyed leniency from the VAR team. But they were never out of their depth.
The first test would always be the toughest and the draw will not have changed Switzerland’s plan: win the next two games.
3 The best Brazil team in a generation?
This Brazil team was labelled as the best in years. One where the quality of the individual parts is surpassed only by the sum of the whole. A group full of creativity and artistry that is much more than a passable tribute act of the great sides of yore.
And on today’s evidence, they are not far off. For periods, they produced a masterclass in how to balance attack with defence without becoming exposed. And it was a joy to watch.
When Coutinho shaped for the opener, there was no doubt the ball would end up in the net. Those watching would must’ve felt a shiver of déjà vu: Hasn’t he scored that goal before?
But a momentary lapse of concentration from Miranda (and perhaps a shove in the back) early in the second half prevented them from taking the win
Switzerland were no pushovers and made them work hard throughout. But hard work has always been a trait associated with the best Brazil teams. Despite the draw, they look like a team with plenty more to come.
4 Firmino still has a big part to play
The question of who should play out of Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino is one that has occupied football fans in the lead up to this tournament. Except in Brazil where most agree that Jesus should be the main man.
Even those influenced by club loyalties must agree that both men deserve a role on the world stage. But in the words of Highlander, “There can be only one.”
Following Firmino’s late introduction, Brazil had one of their best spells and almost grabbed the win. And with World Cup glory the goal, Tite will keep his options open.
That ‘no-look’ World Cup goal is still on the cards.
5 Revenge is a dish best served… by Mexicans?
Brazil would love nothing better than to take revenge of Germany for the humiliating 7-1 defeat four years ago. And they would love nothing more than to settle that score in the World cup final. To do that, both teams would have to win their groups.
That ambition was put in jeopardy on Sunday afternoon as the world champions were beaten 1-0 by Mexico. That result raises the possibility Brazil and Germany could meet in the Last 16, or not at all.
For some teams, removing Germany from your route to the final would be welcome, but for Brazil it would represent a missed opportunity.
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