World Cup 2018: Preview – Group E

2018 FIFA World Cup

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The 5-time winners, Brazil appear clear favorites to top the group while the battle for second place looks to be fierce and intriguing with barely anything to separate the other 3 nations.

Read More: World Cup 2018: Preview – Group D

Teams

Brazil (FIFA Ranking – 2nd)

These days one of the first things that pop into mind when you hear Brazil and World Cup in the same sentence are Pele, Neymar and the 7-1 humiliation in their own backyard against the Germans.

If Brazil is going to live up to their potential and be one of the contenders for the title, they are going to have to put some amazing performances to put that nightmare behind them and move forward.

Brazil has taken part in every World Cup since its inauguration in 1930, and have won the covenant title a record 5 times, the current most by any Nation. Out of the 20 World Cups so far, Brazil have only been eliminated in the first round on 3 occasions, the last time being in 1966.

World Cup 2018: Preview – Brazil

Whenever the FIFA World Cup comes around, the Brazilians are always amongst the list of top contenders…

Brazil were the first Nation to qualify for Russia after new manager Tite was appointed and revived the Brazilian spirit on the field.

Brazil has many star players, mainly Neymar Jr. who lit up PSG’s season as they cruised to another Ligue 1 title. They also have Gabriel Jesus, Willian, Coutinho, Firminho and many more world class players, a fact that should give them a clear edge over the other teams in the group.

With the star power at their disposal, it is difficult to imagine the Brazilians struggling against their group opponents.

Switzerland (FIFA Ranking – 6th)

The Swiss lads will be making their 11th appearance at the World Cup in Russia, making it up to the Round of 16 in 2014 where they lost to Argentina. The Swiss finished second in their 2014 group ahead of group winners France, winning 2 games and losing the 1 against the French.

Switzerland did not have the smoothest of qualifications as they finished second in their UEFA group behind Portugal and moved on to the second round where they faced Northern Ireland, who they beat 1-0 on aggregate to finally qualify for Russia.

Switzerland aren’t without star players of their own with the likes of Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri, Steven Zuber and Arsenal’s new signing Stephan Lichsteiner. As hard as it is to imagine the Swiss pulling off an upset against the Brazilians, however it will be less surprising to see them end in second place.

Costa Rica (FIFA Ranking – 23rd)

Costa Rica are set to take part in their fifth World Cup after being the surprise team of the 2014 World Cup making it all the way to the quarter-finals despite no one giving them a chance.

Costa Rica was sensational in Brazil in the 2014 World Cup after being drawn into group D along with football giants Uruguay, Italy and England. Unsurprisingly even their own fans expected them to lose every single game.

World Cup 2018: Preview – Costa Rica, Serbia and Switzerland

It is expected to be a race for 2nd place in Group E between…

However, with Keylor Navas doing brilliantly in goal, they took the world by storm beating Uruguay 3-1 in their opening game before a narrow 1-0 victory over Italy and a 0-0 draw against the English as the Costa Ricans went onto topping the group they were expected to finish dead last.

After creating major upsets against footballing giants in 2014, it might not shock too many people if they are able to recreate the same magic against Brazil in Russia, however they will be one of the favorites of the three other Nations to finish in second.

Serbia (FIFA Ranking – 34th)

Serbia cruised to qualification topping their UEFA group ahead of the likes of Wales, Ireland and Austria. This will be Serbia’s second World Cup since becoming an independent Nation back in 2006, 12th World Cup appearance overall.

Serbia has some great players and veterans with the likes of Nemanja Matic, Alexander Kolarov, former Chelsea legend Branislav Ivanovic and their leading goal scorer through the qualifiers Aleksander Mitrovic.

However, Serbia appointed a new manager recently after sacking the man who led them to qualification, and the new manager has seriously shaken things up removing the captain’s armband from Branislav Ivanovic despite Ivanovic leading the team since 2012 and successfully leading them through qualification.

Aleksander Kolarov has been handed the captaincy and all the sudden changes so close to the World Cup could seriously cost them in Russia. However, on their day, they have a team with enough skill and potential to beat just about anyone.

Fixtures

17th June – Costa Rica vs Serbia – 17.30 local time – Samara Arena, Samara
17th June – Brazil vs Switzerland –
23:30 local time – Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don
22nd June – Brazil vs Costa Rica –
17:30 local time – Saint Petersburg Stadium, St. Petersburg
22nd June – Serbia vs Switzerland –
23:30 local time – Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad
27th June – Serbia vs Brazil –
23:30 local time – Otkritie Arena, Moscow
27th June – Switzerland vs Costa Rica –
23:30 local time – Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod

Key Fixtures

22nd June – Brazil vs Costa Rica – 17:30 local time – Saint Petersburg Stadium, St. Petersburg

This is surely set to be a thriller after Costa Rica’s 2014 performance as the giant killers. It will be interesting to see if they can have a repeat performance this time as well and pull off a major upset.

Brazil have met Costa Rica twice back in 1990 and 2002, both in the group stage. In 1990 Brazil won 1-0 and in 2002 Brazil lasted 5-2 in a goal fest.

22nd June – Serbia vs Switzerland – 23:30 local time – Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad

An important game for Switzerland, if they lose to Brazil in their opening game. Anything other than a point for the Swiss could send them out of the round of 16.

FIFA World Cup Schedule in Sri Lankan time

Below you can find the complete schedule of the upcoming FIFA World…

Prediction

As mentioned previously, it is hard to imagine a scenario where Brazil fail to top the group, so it is likely they will top the group with the battle for second place set to be an intense one.

If Costa Rica are able to pull off their same fairy tale as 2014, they are likely to come in second, but Serbia and Switzerland will surely put up a strong fight for that spot.

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