Germany exit gives Brazil lift off

Brazil advanced to the World Cup last 16 with a 2-0 win over Serbia, just hours after another of the favourites, Germany, crashed out.

Prior to Brazil's friendly against Germany in March, coach Tite was questioned endlessly about a match dubbed the 'Mineirazo' - the 7-1 pasting handed out by Die Mannschaft in Belo Horizonte four years ago.

A World Cup semi-final that brought shame upon a proud footballing nation, a defeat described as the lowest point in Brazilian football history. Lower even than the 'Maracanazo', in which Brazil unexpectedly lost the 1950 World Cup on home soil to Uruguay. 

Tite admitted in Berlin: "This match has a huge psychological meaning – no one needs to fool themselves about that.

"The 7-1 from the World Cup is like a ghost. It's present, people still talk about it, but the more you talk about it, the less this 'ghost' disappears."

A 1-0 win was supposed to bring about closure and yet the ghost never felt truly exorcised.

Fast forward three months and Tite must have woken more than once in a cold sweat as the prospect of a World Cup rematch in Russia loomed large.

"We cannot think about it and we're not, I can assure you," Tite said on Tuesday when asked about the prospect of facing Joachim Low's men in the first knockout round.

You sensed he was not telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

So, when Germany tumbled out of the competition earlier on Wednesday, few countries will have celebrated as wildly as Brazil. It is a mental hurdle they now do not have to overcome. Revenge for the 'Mineirazo' can wait for another day, another World Cup.

In the first half against Serbia it looked like an enormous weight had been lifted from Brazilian shoulders.

Neymar and Philippe Coutinho buzzed around the field with boundless exuberance. Tite said beforehand Neymar, the world's most expensive player, needed one more game to hit his straps after a fractured metatarsal that curtailed his debut season at Paris Saint-Germain.

If that is the case, then tournament defences should be quaking, starting with last-16 opponents Mexico.

And if Neymar's performance was an improvement on the subdued efforts against Switzerland and Costa Rica then Coutinho simply continued to excel.

The former Liverpool playmaker again showed the swagger of a man seemingly now aware of his lofty perch in the world order. He is a vital cog in the Brazil and Barcelona machines.

It was no surprise when Coutinho created the opener, lofting a pass through to club-mate Paulinho to clip in.

And while Serbia threatened in a five-minute spell in the second half, the game was over when Thiago Silva glanced home Neymar's delivery in the 68th minute.

After that, Russia finally got to see some Brazilian swagger, some Jogo Bonito, with one wonderful spell of possession bringing 'oles' from the thousands clad in yellow.

That is not to say it was a perfect display. Alisson looked uncharacteristically shaky in goal while, at the other end, Gabriel Jesus again looked lost on occasion.

But, qualification secured, top spot secured, Neymar starting to sparkle and, perhaps most important of all, Germany out.