Group E looks set to be one of the more exciting groups in the preliminary round as we prepare for kickoff in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Here’s a deeper look at what we should expect to see from these four teams.
- FIFA Rank: 2
- Team Summary: Brazil enters this year’s World Cup as one of the favorites to win the whole thing, and is heavily favored to win this group. They pretty handily defeated just about every team that was in their path to get to Russia. In fact, over the past two years, Brazil has outscored their opponents by a combined 42-5, which is beyond impressive. In 2014, this team looked primed to win it in their home country, but they lacked depth across the roster, which ended up hurting them in the semifinals. That shouldn’t be an issue this time around, as the Brazilians have insane strength at just about every position. Get ready for a deep run from this team.
- Player to Watch – Neymar: There were some injury concerns with Neymar coming into this World Cup, but those seem to be gone after his return to the pitch against Croatia saw him net a beautiful goal. Neymar is known worldwide for the insane talent he brings to this Brazilian team, and that should shine through in this Cup. He’s their best player, but luckily for him, they won’t need to solely rely on him like they did in 2014.
- FIFA Rank: 25
- Team Summary: This veteran team that turned a lot of heads in the 2014 Rio World Cup is back again in another tricky group, where they’ll be one of the underdogs. This team proved four years ago, however, that they’re not a team to sleep on. Bryan Ruiz’ work on offense helped them immensely last time around, as they advanced past Italy and England out of the group round, and they’ll need another similar stunning small miracle to do that again.
- Player to Watch – Keylor Navas: Navas’ work as the goaltender is a huge part of why the Costa Ricans are headed to Russia this summer. In his last World Cup in 2014, he allowed just one goal in the entire group stage. They’ll need him to put on a similar performance if they want to ensure a spot in the bracket, but he’s certainly up to the task.
- FIFA Rank: 35
- Team Summary: Serbia is back after having a rough go at the World Cup the last few trips. In 2006 and 2010, they went 1-0-5 combined in group round, and they failed to qualify at all in 2014. The road won’t get much easier in Russia, as they’re the lowest FIFA ranked team in the group. They’ll certainly struggle to contend with the likes of Brazil and Switzerland, and will have to do their best to gameplan for the quickness of Costa Rica.
- Player to Watch – Aleksandar Kolarov: The captain and defender will need to help keep the backline strong, to keep pressure off Stojkovic in goal. The defense will have to adapt to the three high-powered offenses that they’re unlucky enough to face, and will be the key to them advancing if they do happen to surprise everyone.
- FIFA Rank: 6
- Team Summary: The Swiss had a pretty easy time qualifying for this year’s tournament, getting nine wins in ten matches, with the only loss coming to a good Portugal team. They haven’t made much noise in the World Cup in recent years, but that looks set to potentially change this time around, as they look to reach at least the quarterfinals in what would be the first time since 1954. They’ll have their work cut out for them, but they should be fine if they play like they’re capable of.
- Player to Watch – Xherdan Shaqiri: The striker is the heart of the Swiss attack. He’s scored some brilliant goals in his career, but he’ll need to be at his best to carry this team as far as they think they can go, and as far as their FIFA ranking says they should be able to go. If he’s off his game, expect Costa Rica or Serbia to steal their spot in the bracket.
Costa Rica vs. Serbia
- Sunday, June 17 at 8:00am Eastern
- Predicted Score: Costa Rica 2, Serbia 1
Brazil vs. Switzerland
- Sunday, June 17 at 2:00pm Eastern
- Predicted Score: Brazil 3, Switzerland 2
Brazil vs. Costa Rica
- Friday, June 22 at 8:00am Eastern
- Predicted Score: Brazil 4, Costa Rica 2
Serbia vs. Switzerland
- Friday, June 22 at 2:00pm Eastern
- Predicted Score: Switzerland 2, Serbia 0
Serbia vs. Brazil
- Wednesday, June 27 at 2:00pm Eastern
- Predicted Score: Brazil 3, Serbia 1
Switzerland vs. Costa Rica
- Wednesday, June 27 at 2:00pm Eastern
- Predicted Score: Switzerland 3, Costa Rica 2
- Brazil – 9 points
- Switzerland – 6 points
- Costa Rica – 3 points
- Serbia – 0 points