The shadow of 2014 World Cup disappointment is still lingering above the Brazilian national team. Determined to turn their fortunes around and get back up to the pedestal of international football, Tite’s men head into the showpiece in Russia eager to go all the way.
Slotted in the group E and pitted against the likes of Serbia, Switzerland and Costa Rica, the Selecao do not only stand as favourites to top the initial stages of the competition but to be crowned world champions as well.
— CBF Futebol (@CBF_Futebol) May 14, 2018
Historically speaking, Brazil are the side you can expect to be up there with the best – fighting for honours and for the coveted World Cup trophy they held in their hands five times thus far.
Disgraced and embarrassed by eventual winners Germany 7-1 in the semi-final, Brazil are eager to make amends. The world’s most expensive footballer Neymar is expected to lead his country forward alongside other global superstars such as Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho, to name a few.
Tite appears to have stabilized the squad defensively and Brazil look a changed team at the moment. Having scored 41 goals during the qualifiers, the Celesao topped their qualifying group with a 10-point cushion ahead of Uruguay. They are definitely going to be one of the most entertaining teams to watch in Russia due to their flamboyant style which has been backed by tactically astute performances.
You don’t even have to look beyond Neymar, Coutinho and Jesus to comprehend the strength of this team. Rock solid in every line of the team, Brazil will travel to Russia without Dani Alves who picked up an injury in PSG’s Coupe de France final victory.
Leading the line upfield are the likes of Roberto Firmino, Douglas Costa and Taison, apart from the aforementioned star trio.
¡Listos para escribir una nueva historia! 🏆
— FEDEFUTBOL Costa Rica (@fedefutbolcrc) May 14, 2018
Three-time Gold Cup winners Costa Rica are travelling to Russia on the back of a notable 2014 World Cup appearance. Having reached the quarterfinal of the competition four years ago, Costa Rica will be hoping to replicate the achievement.
The Central Americans head towards the group stages marked as underdogs but that was the case in Brazil as well and the rest of the lot will be smarter than underestimating them in Russia. Costa Rica achieved their World Cup qualification by finishing second behind Mexico in their qualifying group.
Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas is the most notable name in the team but the Central American minnows boast a couple of more players which are definitely worth a watch. Former Fulham veteran midfielder Bryan Ruiz boasts a wealth of experience, whereas the likes of Bryan Oviedo and Joel Campbell are the names that ring a bell.
New York City’s Ronald Matarrita is only 23 but he already has 18 caps under his belt and will be considered his team’s rising star.
🗣📋 Selektor Mladen Krstajić je saopštio spisak igrača za prijateljske utakmice protiv Čilea i Bolivije, koje će #Orlovi odigrati u Gracu, u okviru priprema za @FIFAWorldCup u Rusiji. 🦅🇷🇸🦅
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#WorldCup #FSS pic.twitter.com/z2VSbItnei
— Fudbalski savez Srbije | FA Serbia (@FSSrbije) May 24, 2018
An eight-year wait seems like an eternity for Serbian fans who are definitely hoping the current generation of players will be able to put in a memorable appearance in Russia.
Serbia qualified for the World Cup by topping their group D ahead of the likes of Republic of Ireland, Wales and Austria which was still not enough for manager Slavoljub Muslin to keep his job. Unhappy with his tactical choices and team selection, the FA sacked the experienced manager and brought in his assistant – managerial novice Mladen Krstajic.
Former Werder Bremen defender made a couple of notable tweaks to his side by (re)introducing Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, while also switching from a 3-man defence to four at the back. Serbia boasts a talented squad individually but suffer from a collective lack of strength and mental sturdiness. Russia will be their chance to prove everybody they are capable of rising to the occasion and thriving under (constant) pressure.
Serbia are led by the newly appointed captain Aleksandar Kolarov who is enjoying an Indian summer at AS Roma. Nemanja Matic, Luka Milivojevic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic should make an impregnable wall at the centre of the part whereas the battering ram – Aleksandar Mitrovic – will be tasked to pierce forward.
Das Schweizer 23-Mann-Kader für den @FIFAWorldCup wird am 4. Juni bekannt gegeben. Das Kader für das WM-Trainingslager in Lugano (27.5.-8.6.) wird im Anschluss ans Mini-Trainingslager in Feusisberg/Freienbach (22.-24.5.) veröffentlicht.#HoppSchwiiz 🇨🇭⚽✊ pic.twitter.com/bfYFGf8hx0
— nationalteams_SFVASF (@SFV_ASF) May 15, 2018
The Swiss finished the qualifying process as second in Group B and were forced to go through a play-off round to seal their place in Russia. Northern Ireland paid the price with Switzerland grabbing the World Cup ticket thus qualifying for their second major international competition after Euro 2016. The Swiss were unlucky to lose to Poland in the Last 16 on penalties and bow out of the competition in France but repeating such a feat will definitely be a challenge this time around.
Switzerland never made it past the quarter finals at a World Cup and haven’t even reached that stage since 1954 when they hosted the tournament. Finishing second in group E and going into the knockouts behind Brazil would definitely be an achievement of its own.
The Balkan base of the Swiss team – Xherdan Shaqiri, Granit Xhaka and Haris Seferovic – definitely is a trio to watch.
Additionally, Switzerland have exciting players in their squad such as Juventus defender Stephan Lichtsteiner or Borussia Monchengladbach’s Yann Sommer.
Brazil are sounded as firm favourites to top Group E with betting odds of 2/7 making it look like a formality for the Celesao. What’s more, they can also be found at 4/1 value to lift the trophy in the end.
In the meantime, battle for place No.2 will be fought among all three remaining sides equally with Serbia sticking out with a slight edge at a 7/4 price.
PSG superstar Neymar is given a 9/1 price to finish the tournament as the top scorer which is a betting options that should not be overlooked.
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