World Cup 2018 – Group E preview
Brazil is probably the favourite to win alongside Germany. This team has quality everywhere and it’s hard to find a weak spot.
Losing Dani Alves hurts, but Tite has the options to replace him, and it may just make the team a bit more defensive, which isn’t a bad thing. Marcelo will get forward, Philippe Coutinho is coming off a nice half-season with Barca and the five-time champs may just add their sixth star come July.
Key Man – Neymar
Should be at the peak of his game aged 26 in Russia, the forward will have his best chance to overthrow Messi and Ronaldo if Brazil win.
Coach – Adenor Bacchi
Forget Dunga’s muscular 2014 World Cup team that depended heavily on Neymar, Brazil are now about organisation and flair.
Switzerland has a really strong squad, especially for such a small country, but their group is pretty tough.
Getting past Brazil will be nearly impossible, so they’ll have to do well against Costa Rica and Serbia.
Those are two teams you can see easily beating or losing to, as they are pretty similar in terms of quality. A potential knockout stage team.
Key Man – Valon Behrami
Going to his fourth straight World Cup in the elder statesman role for a young squad speaks all of Switzerland’s main languages.
Coach – Vladimir Petkovic
The unheralded Bosnian coach now seems to have grown into the role three years after succeeding Ottmar Hitzfeld.
Costa Rica has to like its chances to finish second in this group, and its main rival for that spot will likely be Switzerland.
Los Ticos are talented but ageing, with Ruiz at 32 and Christian Bolaños having just turned 34. This may be their last real big shot in a while to make another run, but they have enough to get to the quarterfinals after impressing in CONCACAF qualifying.
Key Man – Keylor Navas
The 31-year-old is one of the two goalkeepers in the world with his cat-like reactions. He can be the difference maker for this team.
Coach – Oscar Ramirez
53-Year old former midfielder took over after Paulo Wanchope incredibly resigned after a post-match fight.
The heart of its defence in Aleksandrar Kolarov & Branislav Ivanovic, and they could be more of a liability than an asset. Players with plenty of talent, there’s no doubt that they have lost a yard. The squad could feature five defenders over the age of 32, but there is youth elsewhere that has fans excited.
With Matic and Dusan Tadic the main guys, they’ll have a shot of getting out of the group stage.
Key Man – Branislav Ivanovic
Defensive experience from a stellar career for Chelsea used to anchor the defence. Played all ten World Cup qualifiers.
Coach – Mladen Krstajic
A former defender played at the 2006 World Cup, placed in caretaker charge after Slavoljub Muslin was sacked in 2017.