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FIFA World Cup 2018: Group E Preview

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South American heavyweights Brazil are expected to breeze through the group with the other teams battling it out for second spot.

With football's biggest event less than two weeks away, fans all around the world are gathering to cheer for their nation in Russia. The World Cup is nothing less than a festival and the only difference is that here we celebrate football.

As the groups unfolded in the draw, Group E seems to be a very tricky one with heavyweight and favourites Brazil, accompanied by Costa Rica, Serbia and Switzerland, who are clear underdogs and can surprise any team on their day. The group looks pretty interesting, but it looks like Brazil will book the top spot with the other teams battling it out for second spot.


BRAZIL

Factsheet



Last World Cup Finish: Semi-finals at Brazil 2014

Best World Cup Finish: Winners 5 times (1958,1962,1970,1994,2002)

Manager: Tite

Confederation: COMEBOL

Captain: Neymar

FIFA Ranking: 2

Likely formation: 4-3-3

Road to World Cup

The Selecao were the first team to book their ticket to Russia from the South American qualification round. Brazil lost only a single match against Chile in their qualification campaign and looked like a notch above others in their confederation.

Tite has influenced his side to play free-flowing football and has changed the total outlook of the team.

Manager

Tite became the successor to Luiz Felipe Scholari who had a pretty underwhelming stint with the team as the former Corinthians manager came in and changed the dynamic of the team. Tite made sure that his defence was solid enough so that he can use his forwards who are known for their goalscoring prowess.

He even addressed the midfield, made some tough calls, like playing Renato Augusto alongside Paulinho. But, the move turned out to be a masterstroke as both the midfielders did fit well in his system.

Squad

Players to Watch

With six goals and eight assists in qualification, Neymar is Brazil's spearhead in attack.

Manchester City forward, Gabriel Jesus boasts seven goals and four assists in the qualifying round making him the second highest goalscorer in the qualification round along with Lionel Messi, Alexis Sanchez and Felipe Caicedo and just behind top scorer Edinson Cavani.

Paulinho in midfield will be the man linking the attack with the middle of the park and the Barcelona man has a knack of scoring a lot of goals in the process.

SWOT Analysis

 


Costa Rica

Factsheet

Confederation: CONCACAF

Last World Cup Finish: Quarterfinals

Best World Cup Finish: Quarterfinals, Brazil 2014

Manager: Oscar Ramirez

Captain: Bryan Ruiz

FIFA Ranking: 25

Likely Formation: 5-4-1

Road to World Cup

Costa Rica finished just behind Mexico in the final round of the CONCACAF Qualifiers. Apart from two losses, Los Ticos had a comfortable qualification campaign.

Oscar Ramirez and his men were inconsistent at times as they scripted a dominating 4-0 win over the USA and lost 2-1 against Panama. Costa Rica boast a solid backline and are capable of grinding out crucial results in crunch matches.

Manager 

Oscar Ramirez came onto the scene as the assistant coach of Costa Rica back in 2006 and then again in 2015. He then succeeded Paulo Wanchope to take the main role for the Los Ticos in August 2015.

The former national team midfielder represented his nation at the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy and his managerial stints include clubs back in Costa Rica. Ramirez has developed a solid backline and a team who will look to pounce on counters.

Squad

 

Players to Watch

Captain, Bryan Ruiz is their midfield linchpin and the Sporting Lisbon man can also play as a second striker.

Forward Marcos Urena and midfielder Christian Bolanos are senior members of the side and have scored eight goals between themselves in the qualifying campaign.

Former Arsenal winger Joel Campbell is another player who will look to leave a mark on the grand stage as his blistering pace and dribbling abilities can get defenders in trouble.

SWOT Analysis


Serbia

Factsheet

Confederation: UEFA

Last World Cup Finish: Group Stage in 2010 South Africa

Best World Cup finish: 4th place in 1930 and 1962 World Cup

Manager: Mladen Krstajic

FIFA Ranking: 35

Likely Formation: 4-2-3-1

Road to World Cup

The Serbs had a dominaNT qualification campaign where they topped Group D of the UEFA Qualifiers. Serbia started their campaign with a 2-2 draw against the Republic of Ireland, but soon the Eagles gathered momentum with a few positive results.

Their only loss came against Austria and all in all it was a pretty comfortable qualification campaign for the Serbs who did not manage to qualify for the 2016 Euros in France.

Manager

Serbia have gone through a lot of chopping and changing over the past few years and all they were left with was utter disappointment. The Eagles missed consecutive major events and qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup was all they had in mind.

Ex-manager Slavojiub Muslin turned around their fortunes for the Red and Whites taking them through to a major event for the first time since the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Despite his endeavours, his stint came to an end in October 2017 and Mladen Krstajic who was a member of Muslin's coaching staff was appointed as the caretaker manager. Krstajic has represented Serbia and Montenegro at the 2006 World Cup in France.

Squad

Marko Dmitrovic (Eibar), Predrag Rajkovic (Maccabi Tel Aviv), Vladimir Stojkovic (Partizan); Aleksandar Kolarov (Roma), Branislav Ivanovic (Zenit), Nikola Milenkovic (Fiorentina), Milan Rodic (Red Star Belgrade), Antonio Rukavina (Villarreal), Uros Spajic (Krasnodar), Dusko Tosic (Guangzhou R&F), Milos Veljkovic (Werder Bremen); Marko Grujic (Liverpool), Filip Kostic (Hamburg), Adem Ljajic (Torino), Nemanja Matic (Manchester United), Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio), Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace), Nemanja Radonjic (Red Star Belgrade), Dusan Tadic (Southampton), Andrija Zivkovic (Benfica); Luka Jovic (Eintracht Frankfurt), Aleksandar Mitrovic (Newcastle United), Aleksandar Prijovic (PAOK).

Players to Watch

Serbia have some great midfielders in their ranks. Someone like a Nemanja Matic will add solidity to their midfield and shield their backline.

Lazio man Sergej Milinko-Savic has had a great season with the Serie A outfit and his energetic runs and knack of scoring goals will definitely be something to watch out for.

Dusan Tadic has been their main orchestrator in midfield, as the Southampton man managed to score four goals and assisted seven in the Qualifiers making him a vital cog in the side.

Aleksandar Mitrovic upfront has helped his side Fulham win promotion to the Premier League and has great goalscoring prowess.

SWOT Analysis


Switzerland

Factsheet

Confederation: UEFA

Last World Cup finish: Round of 16

Best World Cup finish: Quarterfinals in 1934,1938 and 1954

Manager: Vladimir Petkovic

Captain: Stephan Lichtsteiner

FIFA Ranking: 6

Likely Formation: 4-2-3-1

Road to World Cup

Vladimir Petkovic and his men had a pretty dominant outing in the Qualifiers as they finished their campaign just behind leaders Portugal, who just edged them on goal difference. Losing their last match against the Navigators meant that they finished second and had to face Northern Ireland in the Playoffs.

The Reds were very convincing in both legs as they qualified for their fourth consecutive World Cup. They proved a point to the whole world that they are no pushovers and teams do need to take them seriously or else they will suffer.

Manager

The Bosnia-born manager, Petkovic has been a revelation for La Nati. Although, this will be his first FIFA event, the 54-year-old has led Switzerland to the last 16 at Euro 2016.

His free-flowing football and solid defensive organisation make Switzerland a force to be reckoned with. Petkovic seems like a manager who extracts everything from the resources he has and with added zeal and hard-work his men can come up with a lot of upsets in Russia.

Squad

Players to Watch

Granit Xhaka has been the main man in midfield for the Reds as the Arsenal midfielder holds the highest number of passes in the European Qualifiers and the 25-year-old boasts a whopping 90% passing accuracy proving his worth.

Xherdan Shaqiri will always be a player on whom they can rely on and he has been the man who has stepped up to cover their goalscoring issues in the past.

The man with the armband, Stephan Lichtsteiner will also play a key role in defence and helping his team on counter-attacks through his excellent overlapping runs. Expectations from these players will be immense as La Nati will look to break all record in this World Cup.

SWOT Analysis


Matches

17 June 2018 - Costa Rica v Serbia, 5:30 PM (IST)

17 June 2018 - Brazil v Switzerland, 11:30 PM (IST)

22 June 2018 - Brazil v Costa Rica, 5:30 PM (IST)

22 June 2018 - Serbia v Switzerland, 11:30 PM (IST)

27 June 2018 - Serbia v Brazil, 11:30 PM (IST)

27 June 2018 - Switzerland v Costa Rica, 11:30 PM (IST)

What to expect

Group E looks very exciting as all the four teams stand a great chance to progress to the knockout stages. Brazil are the strongest of them all and will look to secure the top spot.

The remaining three teams will then have to fight for second spot and at an event like the World Cup, anything is possible and we expect some mouth-watering and jaw-dropping clashes between the four sides.

Published: Sat Jun 09, 2018 01:06 PM IST

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