Lucas Paquetá and Brazil made a winning start to the 2022 FIFA World Cup finals after a 2-0 triumph against Serbia on Thursday 24 November.
Just two players recorded more minutes in Brazil’s successful qualification campaign than Paquetá, so it was no surprise to see the Hammers' No11 named in Tite’s starting XI for their Group G opener at Lusail Stadium in Qatar.
On his 36th appearance for his country, Paquetá might have created the opening goal when he found Raphinha in the first half, but the former Leeds United forward could not convert from inside the area.
Raphinha's miss did not prove costly, however, as Brazil struck twice after the break to secure a comfortable victory. Richarlison tapped into an empty net on 62 minutes after Serbia goalkeeper Vanja Milinković-Savić – teammate of loaned Hammer Nikola Vlašić at Torino - saved a powerful effort from Vinícius Júnior. The Tottenham Hotspur striker added his and Brazil’s second eleven minutes later.
Throughout, Paquetá showed his intelligence in possession and his tenacity without the ball. The Flamengo youth made four tackles as he battled against a Serbia midfield that featured Nemanja Gudelj – a player who started both legs when West Ham United beat Sevilla in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 in 2021/22.
One of 12 Premier League-based players included in Brazil’s 26-man squad, Paquetá was replaced by Manchester United’s Fred with 75 minutes played.
Brazil will now take on Switzerland at Stadium 974 on 28 November at 4pm GMT, before their group stage concludes against Cameroon at Lusail Stadium on 2 December at 7pm GMT.
Paquetá and company are looking to record a sixth World Cup triumph for Brazil, who remain unbeaten in a World Cup group phase since 1998.