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2018 World Cup preview: Group E

Brazil

Dani Alves (bottom, second from left) won’t be fit to play for his country in Russia. (Image courtesy of CBS sports).

Squad

Goalkeepers: Alisson (Roma), Ederson (Manchester City), Cassio (Corinthians)

Defenders: Miranda (Inter Milan), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain), Geromel (Gremio), Danilo (Manchester City), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Fagner (Corinthians)

Midfielders: Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Paulinho (Barcelona), Renato Augusto (Beijing Guoan), Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona), Willian (Chelsea), Fred (Shakhtar Donetsk)

Forwards: Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Douglas Costa (Juventus), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Taison (Shakhtar Donetsk)

Manager: Tite

FIFA Ranking: 2

Odds to Win: 4/1

Preview:

No real surprises with who was called up. Brazil is loaded from top to bottom. Unfortunate that Dani Alves was injured towards the end of the season leaving right back as the lone weak spot in this Brazil side. Fagner and Danilo will be filling in for the 32 year-old veteran. Even without Alves, there’s no shortage of talent, creativity and skill for this team. And with the chemistry to boot, no doubt the favorite to win the World Cup. The main question will be this team’s mental toughness. They will want to avenge their 7-1 humiliation in the 2014 semifinal.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica looks to repeat their 2014 success. (Image courtesy of Independent.UK)

Squad

Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid), Patrick Pemberton (LDA), Leonel Moreira (Herediano)

Defenders: Cristian Gamboa (Celtic), Ian Smith (Norrkoping), Ronald Matarrita (NYCFC), Bryan Oviedo (Sunderland), Oscar Duarte (Espanyol), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Bologna), Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United), Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps), Johnny Acosta (Aguilas Dorados)

Midfielders: David Guzman (Portland Timbers), Yeltsin Tejeda (Lausanne), Celso Borges (Deportivo La Coruna), Randall Azofeifa (Herediano), Rodney Wallace (NYCFC), Bryan Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon), Daniel Colindres (Saprissa), Christian Bolanos (Saprissa)

Forwards: Johan Venegas (Saprissa), Joel Campbell (Real Betis), Marco Urena (LAFC)

Manager: Oscar Ramirez

FIFA Ranking: 23

Odds to Win: 500/1

Preview:

Not much has changed with this team since their Cinderella run in 2014. Keeper, Keylor Navas remains the standout name among the roster. The Real Madrid keeper will have to keep his underrated side in contention again in Russia. Bryan Ruiz is still the creative presence in the attack. Costa Rica will have to re-channel that magic from 2014 to get out of the group. With Brazil the favorite of the group, Costa Rica have the ability to compete with the other two teams in group E.

Switzerland

The Swiss national team. (Image courtesy of FIFA World Cup News)

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Roman Burki (Borussia Dortmund), Gregor Kobel (Hoffenheim), Yvon Mvogo (RB Leipzig), Yann Sommer (Borussia Monchengladbach)

Defenders: Manuel Akanji (Borussia Dortmund), Johan Djourou (Antalyaspor), Nico Elvedi (Borussia Monchengladbach), Michael Lang (FC Basel), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Jacques-Francois Moubandje (Toulouse), Ricardo Rodriguez (AC Milan), Fabian Schaer (Deportivo La Coruna), Silvan Widmer (Udinese)

Midfielders: Valon Behrami (Udinese), Blerim Dzemaili (Bologna), Edimilson Fernandes (West Ham), Gelson Fernandes (Eintracht), Remo Freuler (Atlanta), Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City), Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Steven Zuber (Hoffenheim), Denis Zakaria (Borussia Monchengladbach)

Forwards: Josip Drmic (Borussia Monchengladbach), Breel Embolo (Schalke), Mario Gavranovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Haris Seferovic (Benfica)

Manager: Vladimir Petkovic

FIFA Ranking: 6

Odds to Win: 125/1

Preview:

Switzerland are looking to make a bigger impact than they did in 2014 with a similar team. A respectable team throughout, Switzerland won’t be underestimated. Xherdan Shaqiri is the conductor of this train, with Ricardo Rodriguez as the engineer. The question remains, however, what sort of noise can the Swiss make on the world stage. They’ve often come up short of expectations in recent memory and will need to make a deep run to make the novice fan believe.

Serbia

Serbian National team. (Image courtesy of latestly.com)

Squad

Goalkeepers: Vladimir Stojkovic (FK Partizan Belgrade), Predrag Rajkovic (Maccabi Tel Aviv), Aleksandar Jovanovic (AGF), Marko Dmitrovic (Eibar)

Defenders: Aleksandar Kolarov (Roma), Antonio Rukavina (Villarreal), Milan Rodic (Red Star Belgrade), Branislav Ivanovic (Zenit Saint Petersburg), Uros Spajic (Anderlecht), Milos Veljkovic (Werder Bremen), Dusko Tosic (Besiktas), Matija Nastasic (Schalke), Nikola Milenkovic (Fiorentina)

Midfielders: Nemanja Matic (Manchester United), Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace), Marko Grujic (Cardiff City), Nemanja Maksimovic (Valencia), Dusan Tadic (Southampton), Andrija Zivkovic (Benfica), Mijat Gacinovic (Eintracht), Filip Kostic (Hamburger SV), Nemanja Radonjic (Red Star Belgrade), Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio), Adem Ljajic (Torino)

Forwards: Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham), Aleksandar Prijovic (PAOK Thessaloniki), Luka Jovic (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Manager: Mladen Krstajic

FIFA Ranking: 34

Odds to Win: 125/1

Preview:

Serbia is making their first appearance since 2010. With Nemanja Matić leading the way, Serbia are backed with players in form. Sergej Milinković-Savić, Aleksandar Mitrović and Luka Milivojević are the more in-form players on the squad. Veterans, Branislav Ivanović and Aleksandar Kolorov sure up the defense. This team is one of the more dangerous teams. Underestimating this team could be costly.

Prediction:

The class of the group is no doubt Brazil. The real race in this group is for second place. While Switzerland may be the quick draw pick to advance, and Costa Rica made a good impression 4 years ago, Serbia will impress in the group stage and advance as the runner-up in Group E. Switzerland hasn’t shown signs of getting over their big stage issues. Costa Rica have an aged team that hasn’t added any young talent to their ranks; making it a little more difficult to surprise the teams in this group. Serbia have the better chemistry and system to get enough points to advance.

 

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