World Cup 2018: Group E Preview
Every four years, the world sits back and enjoys the incredible one month spectacle that is the World Cup.
Throughout history, Brazil have always been one of the best sides at every tournament. The South American giants have won the famous trophy on five occasions, more than any other team.
Brazil hosted the previous World Cup in 2014 but were disgraced and embarrassed in the semi final, where they were thrashed 7-1 by Germany.
This Brazil side looks very dangerous and head to Russia as one of the favourites to win the tournament.
The world’s most expensive footballer of all time, Neymar, will lead his country. Alongside global superstars such as Phillipe Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus.
Can anyone in Group E stop Brazil?
This year, Brazil will be in Group E alongside Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia.
Switzerland qualified for the World Cup after finishing second in their group, behind Portugal, on goal difference.
The Swiss beat Northern Ireland in the play-offs thanks to a controversial penalty from AC Milan full-back, Rico Rodriguez.
Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka plays a much more advanced role for his country and is a key player for the Swiss national team.
Switzerland lost just one match in qualification, against Portugal, which saw Cristiano Ronaldo’s side qualify for the tournament automatically.
Will Costa Rica surprise again?
Costa Rica were one of the surprise packages at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Both Uruguay and Italy were beaten by Costa Rica in the group stage before England held them to a 0-0 draw.
Then Greece were beaten on penalties after a cagey 1-1 draw but eventually, Costa Rica’s run came to an end against the Netherlands.
Costa Rica have a talented side including some former Premier League players such as Joel Campbell, Bryan Ruiz and Bryan Oviedo.
Serbia won their qualification group fairly comfortably.
Wales, the Republic of Ireland and Austria were all beaten by the Serbs to a spot in Russia.
Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic is the main man for the Serbian national team. He comes into this off a stellar season for his club after joining from Chelsea.
Brazil head to Russia after their humiliation on home soil four years ago.
The Brazilian national side hasn’t changed much. Fans from across the world will be hoping that Neymar is able to stay fit for the entire tournament this time round.
Brazil have won the World Cup five times, more than any other nation, but haven’t had their hands on the famous trophy since 2002.
Tite’s team topped the South American qualification group with ease, finishing 10 points clear of closest challengers, Uruguay.
The Brazilians scored 41 goals in qualification and are likely to be one of the most entertaining teams this summer.
Some of Brazil’s stars don’t play their football in Europe’s top leagues with Renato Augusto being the prime example.
Brazil are one of the very few countries with stars all over the pitch.
Marcelo, Dani Alves and Thiago Silva are world class players who all play at the back for the Brazilian national side.
Brazil’s key men
Neymar (PSG), Phillipe Coutinho (Barcelona) & Gabriel Jesus (Man City).
Neymar has earnt himself the right to be labelled as one of the top 3 players in the world alongside Messi and Ronaldo.
Millions of football fans will tune in to Brazil’s matches solely to watch the 25 year old play. After picking up a serious injury with PSG, the eyes of the world will be on Neymar’s recovery in the build-up to the World Cup.
Phillipe Coutinho finally signed for Barcelona during the January transfer window and he will play a vital role in Brazil’s attack this summer.
Coutinho has only scored 8 goals for his country but has a great partnership with fellow Barcelona midfielder, Paulinho, when playing for the Brazil national team.
Gabriel Jesus will be Brazil’s main attacking option in Russia. Roberto Firmino, despite a brilliant campaign with Liverpool, is expected to be the back-up striker.
Jesus was painting the streets of Sao Paulo during the 2014 World Cup. But will be leading the forward line for his country this year in Russia.
Switzerland head to Russia after defeating Northern Ireland in the play-offs.
14 different players scored for Switzerland on their road to Russia but only one player, Haris Seferović, managed to scored four.
Switzerland looked strong at Euro 2016 and were unlucky to lose to Poland in the last 16 on penalties.
The Swiss have never made it past the quarter finals of a World Cup and haven’t even reached that stage since 1954 when they hosted the tournament.
Switzerland’s key men
Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City), Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) & Haris Seferović (Benfica)
Switzerland have some incredible players in their squad including Juventus’ Stephan Lichtsteiner and Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Yann Sommer. But these three players will be the key to success at the World Cup this summer.
Shaqiri is clearly too good for Stoke and will surely find a new club at the end of the current season.
A Champions league winner with Bayern Munich, Shaqiri is pacey, skilful and can pick out a pass from anywhere on the pitch.
Alongside Shaqiri will be Granit Xhaka.
Xhaka is often criticised in the Premier League for his poor disciplinary record and sloppy performances but for Switzerland, Xhaka is a different player.
Vladimir Petković plays Xhaka in the number 10 role, a position where the 25 year old thrives.
Lastly, there is Haris Seferović. The 25 year old forward rarely plays for his club side, Benfica, but like Xhaka, seems to always perform (and more importantly score) when he plays for his country.
Not many people will be expecting Costa Rica to qualify from Group E which was the exact same scenario in Brazil.
This is Costa Rica’s 5th time at the World Cup finals. And the third time that they have been drawn against Brazil in the group stage.
Costa Rica qualified in second place in their group, behind a Mexico side who lost just one match.
Christian Bolaños could become Costa Rica’s record World Cup appearance holder should he feature in his side’s group matches.
Costa Rica’s key men
Keylor Navas (Real Madrid), Joel Campbell (Real Betis) & Marco Ureña (LAFC)
2017 was a great year for Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
The Real Madrid stopper was central to Los Blancos’ success in La Liga, The Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup.
Navas is the first choice keeper for club and country and has one of the best reflexes in world football.
Joel Campbell might not have slotted into the Arsenal side but it doesn’t mean he isn’t a great player.
The 25 year old is having a torrid time battling with injury this season. Campbell will be a pivotal player for Costa Rica in Russia.
Campbell is quick, skilful and can score or assist goals.
Marco Ureña will be one of the first players to represent Los Angeles FC when they start their MLS season in March 2018.
Ureña scored 3 goals in qualification as well as the third goal against Uruguay in Costa Rica’s 3-1 win at the 2014 World Cup.
Serbia will playing at their 12th World Cup this summer in Russia.
The Serbs’ best finish was fourth place in 1930 and 1962 however they haven’t made it out of the group stage since 1998.
Malden Krstajić, who played for Serbia on 59 occasions at centre back, is the man in charge of the Serbia national team for this summer’s tournament.
The 43 year old is an inexperienced manager. Krstajić knows his team and country well and will have the support of everyone back at home.
Serbia’s key men
Aleksandar Kolarov (AS Roma), Branislav Ivanovic (Zenit St Petersburg) & Nemanja Matic (Manchester United)
Serbia are a fairly defensive side and have a lot of quality at the back.
Their full back options are strong and experienced but are getting old and perhaps lacking the pace to keep up with the wingers from the other sides in the group.
Kolarov is known by all English football fans for his time at Manchester City.
It’s always very dangerous to concede a free kick against a side that Kolarov plays in.
Former Chelsea right back Branislav Ivanovic captains his country. Unless injury prevents him, he will be heading to Russia for sure.
Nemanja Matic signed for Manchester United in the summer and has been a key figure in their squad this season.
Matic is versatile and is one of the best at retaining possession for his side.
He can also shoot from long distance which can come in handy if Serbia are finding it hard to break down the opposition.
the Group E results!
Costa Rica 1-1 Serbia
Brazil 3-0 Switzerland
Brazil 3-0 Costa Rica
Serbia 0-1 Switzerland
Serbia 1-2 Brazil
Switzerland 0-0 Costa Rica
The verdict on Group E
Brazil should have no trouble winning this group and we expect them to win all three matches.
The battle for second will be tough but we think that Switzerland will make it ahead of Costa Rica and Serbia… just!