Results and performances in Saturday’s pre-World Cup friendlies in Europe have served only to strengthen Brazil’s claims for favouritism ahead of the big kick-off on Thursday 14 June.
World champions Germany suffered a second successive friendly defeat, as Austria came from behind to win 2-1 at home in soggy conditions in Klagenfurt.
Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil opened the scoring in the first half, but Martin Hinteregger’s superb volley and Alessandro Schopf’s strike secured a first Austrian victory over the Germans for 32 years.
Significantly, German goalkeeper Manuel Never made his first appearance since September, having missed most of the 2017/18 campaign with a foot injury, although they were without rested trio Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels.
Coach Joachim Low reflected: “I am not upset about the loss, not upset about losing the game, I am upset about the way we lost it.”
In Brussels, Belgium, Roberto Martinez’s tournament fancies were held to a goalless draw by European champions, Portugal, who were without the rested Cristiano Ronaldo.
In a game of few chances there was worrying injury news for the Red Devils, with skipper Vincent Kompany – who has suffered numerous problems in the last few years – forced off with a groin problem. The Manchester City man’s involvement in Russia could now be in doubt.
Fellow group opponents, England, fared better, defeating Nigeria 2-1 at Wembley.
An encouraging first-half effort produced goals from Gary Cahill and captain Harry Kane, before Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi pulled one back early in the second half.
And tournament first-timers Iceland saw the returning Everton midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson on target – but they went down 3-2 at home to Norway.