World Cup 2018 Preview – Group E

World Cup 2018 Preview – Group E

2018 World Cup Group E contains one of the favourites to lift the trophy, Brazil. All eyes will be on the fitness of their start player, Neymar in the lead up to the World Cup and other teams in the group will be secretly hoping the Paris Saint-Germain forward fails to recover in time.

The other three teams making up Group E are Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia.

Brazil

The 2014 World Cup, on home soil, ended in an embarrassing 7-1 defeat at the hands of eventual champions Germany and left many of the Brazilian players in tears.

Many onlookers questioned how Brazil would respond to that defeat but they did so in style during qualifying the 2018 tournament. Brazil finished top of South American qualifying, 10 points clear of second place Uruguay.

Having lost their first match to Chile, the Brazilian team embarked on a 17-match unbeaten run to seal their place in Russia. The Little Canary will surely top this group without too much difficulty.

Manager: Tite turned Brazil around from the disappointment of the 2014 World Cup into a well-balanced team, featuring good defensive organisation and plenty of attacking intent and flair.

Key Player: Much like Argentina have Lionel Messi, Brazil have their own guiding light in Neymar. His fitness will be vital if Brazil are to win the 2018 World Cup.

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Switzerland

The Swiss have a good World Cup record and they have participated in ten World Cup tournaments. They may not be the European team which rolls off everyone’s lips but they have done well to qualify for so many finals.

Switzerland were forced to come through the playoffs having finished second to Portugal in their group and defeated Northern Ireland via a contentious penalty decision.

There was nothing in the playoff games against Northern Ireland to suggest Switzerland can reach the latter stages of the 2018 World Cup but thanks to the quality in this group, they could make the Round of 16.

Manager: Vladimir Petkovic is a Bosnian coach who has experience of managing in Serie A with Lazio and has grown into the job having started four years ago.

Key Player: Valon Behrami missed the deciding match against Portugal in qualifying and his absence was one of the reasons why Switzerland lost the match. The experienced Udinese midfielder will play an important role, both on and off the field.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica had a tournament to remember at the 2014 World Cup as they reached the quarter-final before losing out to the Netherlands on penalties.

In qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, The Ticos finished second in the final group behind Mexico and they failed to defeat Mexico, Panama and Honduras home or away. However, they lost only two matches and this suggests they will be a tough team to beat.

Manager: Oscar Ramirez took over when former player Paulo Wanchope resigned following a post-match brawl with a steward. Ramirez has worked as assistant manager for Costa Rica in the past but has his work cut out to match the performance of four years ago.

Key Player: Keylor Navas is one of only a handful of players who play outside of the Americas and the Real Madrid goalkeeper could be busy.

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Serbia

Serbia were poor at the 2006 World Cup, losing all three matches but did show signs of improvement four years later, winning one of the games but still being eliminated at the first time of asking.

The Eagles will feel this draw has given them a chance to make history by progressing to the knockout stages but although they won their qualifying group, the quality was not great and they may struggle to make an impact.

Manager: Despite leading Serbia to the 2018 World Cup, Slavoljub Muslin was sacked and Mladen Krstajic has been placed in charge of the team. This change cannot have helped preparations.

Key Player: Branislav Ivanovic was ever-present in qualifying and the experienced Saint Petersburg and former Chelsea defender will need to be at his best for Serbia to have a chance of reaching the knockout stages.

Predictions

Brazil

Switzerland

Costa Rica

Serbia

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