FIFA World Cup 2018: Is Gabriel Jesus Brazil's missing piece? | Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 27, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:13 AM, June 27, 2018

Is Jesus Brazil's missing piece?

Gabriel Jesus started for Brazil in the first two World Cup games against Switzerland and Costa Rica but the 21-year-old Manchester City striker failed to embark on his trademark 'hello mom' celebration. His contributions in the first two games were a shot at the Switzerland goal, which was ruled offside, and a header against Costa Rica that came off the crossbar.

It is uncertain whether he will start in the crucial final Group E game against Serbia at the Spartak Stadium today -- where Brazil need a victory to top the group -- or whether Brazil coach Tite will opt for Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino. But Jesus has so far been disappointing as the key marksman in the team.

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The young forward -- who made his Brazil debut in spectacular fashion by scoring twice in a 3-0 win against Ecuador in a World Cup qualifier in September 2016 -- was not only tipped as a talented striker in the making but also showed glimpses of the great Ronaldo, El Fenomeno.

The five-time World Cup winners have actually been starved of a quality striker since Ronaldo's departure. Fred and to some extent Hulk made up the striking trio with Neymar in the last World Cup on their home soil. Unfortunately, both lacked quality, which has been a real concern for Brazil.

Jesus came onto the Brazil radar at a tender age after scoring 58 goals from 48 games for Palmeiras's youth team in 2013. His switch to Manchester City in 2017 was recognition of his talent and he has scored 24 goals for the Premier League champions over two seasons.

The strongly-built forward, who has a lethal right-foot and is very impressive in the air, has also got the raw power that Ronaldo possessed. His sudden bursts of speed can open up a tight defence. He will also be handy against Serbia, who have got physically strong players.

During a pre-match briefing Brazil coach Tite said that he would start with the same line-up that played against Croatia. It will guarantee Jesus another chance to have a crack in an important game, in which Brazil must avoid defeat.

It will also be a game that will allow Neymar, who is yet to regain full fitness since recovering from an injury, to complete the evolution cycle. Philippe Coutinho, the Barcelona forward, has so far been the form player in the last two games. He scored the only goal against Switzerland in a 1-1 draw. A bundle of skill and creativity, Coutinho also scored the crucial 91st minute opening goal against a stubborn Costa Rica in a 2-0 win.

But Brazil will desperately need Jesus to come to the party against Serbia. He has so far scored 10 goals donning the famous yellow shirt and his 11th, hopefully against Serbia, will be the most important not only for him but also for Brazil -- a team that desperately need to solve the scoring puzzle.

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