FIFA World Cup 2018 – Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
After a disappointing result in last World Cup, Brazil is coming to Russia to fix their reputation. Brazil has had a tough road going into this World Cup, they have been struggling a lot, but it all turned for better when Tite replaced Dunga as head coach. Since it’s been more or less smooth sailing for them, finishing 1st in the group with 10 points to spare ahead of Uruguay. With an overall record of 12-5-1, they showed that they still have something in them. It’s no surprise, they dominated the South American qualifiers. Brazil has a good coach in Tite and exceptional roster in Coutinho, Neymar, Gabriel Jesus, Paulinho,… I could actually write down most of their squad at this point as they do have an all-around squad with strength in all 3 parts of the pitch. The only concern is their midfield, which is decent but not on the level of Germany, Spain or France. That could cause some problems, especially if the ball does not get to their star strikers. Nonetheless I can see them going all the way, but first, they need to do all they can to finish 1st in the group, just so they can avoid Germany, and we all know what happened last time these two teams met.
Star player: Neymar
Prediction: As mentioned before Brazil is in my eyes the top contender to win the title and I wouldn’t be surprised if they do so.
Switzerland has started their qualifiers exceptionally well, winning first 9 games, but still finished 2nd in the group behind Portugal due to goal difference. That meant, they had to go into playoffs where Switzerland met with Northern Ireland. The first match took place in Ireland and surprisingly Switzerland came out on top (0:1). The second match in Switzerland was highly entertaining with both teams playing attractive football. Luckily for Switzerland, Northern Ireland attempts at scoring a goal were not successful, which meant Switzerland was going to appear in the World Cup. They could be underestimated this year, as they don’t seem as dangerous, but they are more than capable of surprising us all. Switzerland has the best team they had in years, with many of their young stars entering their best years (Rodriguez, Shaqiri, Xhaka..). Switzerland is solid in all aspects but sadly lacks the quality to win the title. Sadly if they do not place 1st in the group, they will have to face against Group F winners, which will most likely be Germany.
Star player: Xherdan Shaqiri
Prediction: With the quality of their players I can easily see them finishing behind Brazil and advance into the next stage of the tournament.
They have played well to qualify for World Cup, finishing in 2nd place in the qualifying group, 5 points behind Mexico. Looking at their overall record 4-4-2 is not impressive and with disappointing results in the friendlies, I don’t see them going far. Their group is easier compared to the one in 2014, but on the other hand, their current team and performance are miles away from what we have seen in 2014. We won’t forget their performances that year, when they finished at the top of the group which consisted of England, Italy, and Uruguay, but we can be sure we won’t see anything similar this year. As I see it the only bright side in their team is Real Madrid’s Keylor Navas who will ensure they will have some quality in defence.
Star player: Keylor Navas
Prediction: Coming out of their group will be hard and it just may be too hard for them to achieve it.
Serbian team can be happy to qualify for this year’s World Cup after missing last 3 major tournaments. In fact, they surprised us all, finishing at the top of the qualifying group. Looking at their qualifying group, Serbia was put against Ireland, Wales, Austria, Georgia and Moldova. With an overall record of 6-3-1, Serbia ended at the top spot of the group, 2 points ahead of Ireland. Their performances were decent under their coach Slavoljub Muslin, however, Serbia sacked him. The reason? Muslin’s 3-4-3 system “came off as too defensive”. Ironically enough Serbian scored 20 goals in the qualifiers with that formation. All in all, Serbia has a solid defence as well as midfield, however, they lack a strong attack. In other words, they do not have a “natural goal scorer” to do the job.
Star player: Nemanja Matić
Prediction: Serbia and Switzerland will have to battle it out for a spot in the top 16. Switzerland seems better on the paper, but I do believe Serbia can be a real threat.