Another friendly, another win. Now the World Cup beckons.
Brazil concluded preparations ahead of hosting the FIFA World Cup with a 1-0 victory over Serbia on Friday in their final pre-tournament friendly in Sao Paulo.
Fred scored the only goal in the second half after the hosts slogged through an uninspiring first 45 minutes. Serbia came close to scoring on multiple occasions, and Brazil's Hulk had a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside.
With World Cup preparations complete, Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari will settle on his starting XI and turn his attention to the Selecao's opening match against Croatia on June 12.
Following the opener, Brazil will round out play in Group A against Mexico (June 17) and Cameroon (June 23). After completing a long, world-spanning run of friendlies in anticipation of the event, the Selecao's aim will be to win a record sixth title—and their first since 2002—on home soil.
Friday's final scoreline didn't match that of Brazil's previous friendly, a 4-0 win over Panama on Tuesday, but Scolari's team have now won nine consecutive matches and will head into the tournament as one of the favourites for glory.
Serbia, however, created the better chances in the first half and had a clear opportunity to take the lead in the 32nd minute as Dusan Tadic crossed to an unmarked Aleksandar Mitrovic in the middle of the box.
However, Mitrovic directed his downward header off target, bouncing well wide of the post.
The match remained scoreless until the 58th minute, when Fred made the breakthrough for Brazil. Thiago Silva lofted an angled pass into the box for the centre-forward, who chested down the ball and, as he was stumbling to the pitch, finished high past Vladimir Stojkovic.
As Bleacher Report's Dan Levy tweeted, the goal underlined Brazil's offensive prowess ahead of the World Cup:
Fred had 2 men on, trapped with his chest, fell down, hit it with outside of his foot while on the ground, rocket goal. Brazil is dangerous— Dan Levy (@DanLevyThinks) June 6, 2014
Serbia came close to scoring an equaliser in the 71st minute, with Milos Jojic glancing a header off the outside of the post from Aleksandar Kolarov's cross.
Brazil then had a goal ruled out for offside three minutes later after Hulk ran onto Neymar's pass through the middle and lifted his shot over Stojkovic. Replays showed Hulk was clearly onside.
The linesman's mistake didn't matter, though, as Brazil held on for victory. Now, with less than a week left until the opener, the excitement can truly begin.
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After Brazil heard booing from the home fans at times during Friday's match, coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said his side's preparations were coming along fine. As quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald, Scolari said: "I think we come into the World Cup in good shape. We are keen for things to get started now."
He added: "Both teams went for it and I was very impressed with Serbia. When I saw their line-up at the start I knew it would be a tough match to win."