Road To Russia - World Cup Team-By-Team Preview - GROUP E


Brazil

Image result for brazil football logo
Manager:


Tite


Squad: 

Goalkeepers: Alisson (Roma), Ederson (Manchester City), Cassio (Corinthians);

Defenders: Thiago Silva, Marquinhos (both Paris Saint-Germain), Miranda (Inter Milan), Geromel (Grêmio), Fagner (Corinthians), Danilo (Manchester City), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Filipe Luiz (Atlético Madrid);
Midfielders: Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fred (Shakhtar Donetsk), Coutinho, Paulinho (both Barcelona), Renato Augusto (Beijing Guoan), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Willian (Chelsea);
Forwards: Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Douglas Costa (Juventus), Taison (Shakhtar Donetsk).

Key player:

Neymar: football’s most expensive player will be looking to make a statement in Russia and do something both Messi and Ronaldo have never done.

One-to-watch:

Philippe Coutinho: simply put, Coutinho is nothing but class, and has every attribute needed to move into the top echelon of world footballers.

Young gun:

Gabriel Jesus: the striker is a natural goal-scorer and one of the best young players on the planet.

Team overview/style of play:

Razzle dazzle football has been a mainstay in the Brazil national team set-up for almost all of the countries major tournament history. High skill players attempting to score perfect goals. Despite this being successful, coach Tite has instilled a different approach, where a more balanced line-up gives the likes of Neymar and co upfront the ability to settle and score more goals from build-up play and sustained pressure. The inclusion of many box-to-box, high work rate midfielders in the squad allows Brazil to maintain and possess the ball like not many other nations can. Additionally, excellent ball playing goalkeepers in Alisson and Ederson assist the team in getting play started. A likely 4-1-2-3 formation will be utilised to stifle opponents while also producing a high scoring output.
  
Strengths:

·        High level of skill and pace in attack

·        Midfield balance

·        Ball playing goalkeepers that can build play from the back


·        Multiple scoring outlets

Weaknesses:



·     Slip into old habits of running everything through Neymar

·    Breaking down 3 man backlines and teams that park the bus

Predicted line up:



Jerseys:

Image result for brazil world cup 2018 jerseyImage result for brazil world cup 2018 jersey

Verdict:

This is Brazil’s chance to return to World Cup glory and make amends for their defeat at the 2014 World Cup. Will need to pull off some big wins, but are capable of anything when on song. 

Switzerland

Image result for switzerland football logo

Manager:

Vladimir Petkovic

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Roman Buerki (Borussia Dortmund), Gregor Kobel (1899 Hoffenheim), Yvon Mvogo (Leipzig), Yann Sommer (Borussia Mönchengladbach).

Defenders: Manuel Akanji (Borussia Dortmund), Johan Djourou (Antalyaspor), Nico Elvedi (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Michael Lang (Basel), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Jacques-Francois Moubandje (Toulouse), Ricardo Rodriguez (Milan), Fabian Schaer (Deportivo La Coruna), Silvan Widmer (Udinese);

Midfielders: Valon Behrami (Udinese), Blerim Dzemaili (Bologna), Edimilson Fernandes West Ham), Gelson Fernandes (Eintracht Frankfurt), Remo Freuler (Atalanta), Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City), Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Steven Zuber (1899 Hoffenheim), Denis Zakaria (Borussia Mönchengladbach);

Forwards: Josip Drmic (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Breel Embolo (Schalke), Mario Gavranovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Haris Seferovic (Benfica).

Key player:

Xherdan Shaqiri: Shaqiri does something memorable every time he plays for his nation in a major tournament. What will he do this time around? As he said, he only scores beautiful goals.

One-to-watch:

Ricardo Rodriguez: a continual attacking threat, whilst seemingly always being in the correct position defensively.

Young gun:

Breel Embolo: Possesses everything needed to be the complete striker, possessing pace, power, strength, composure and clinical finishing. With time, he will continue to develop and refine his skills.

Team overview/style of play:

A national team littered with talent in some key positions, Switzerland have been notoriously well set-up and well drilled in their play. However, despite being ranked 8th in the FIFA rankings, the road to Russia hasn't been all pretty sailing. The unconvincing manner in which the Swiss qualified could be the catalyst for a total collapse in form in the future, this possibly coming at the World Cup itself. Drawn in a tough group, where second is most likely the best outcome possible, the Swiss will have to set-up with a solid defensive shape with a bank of 4 across the back and 2 holding midfielders in front of them.

Strengths:

·  Tireless work rate by their fullbacks – Stephan Lichtsteiner and Ricardo Rodriguez joining the attack

·        Possessing Xherdan Shaqiri as a game changer

·        Solid set-up and knowledge of each players roles

Weaknesses:


·        Poor options up front in the striking role. Haris Seferovic (11 goals in 49 games) or a 20 year old in Breel Embolo who is relatively untested


·        Shaky centre back pairing 

Predicted line up:





Jerseys:

Image result for switzerland world cup 2018 jerseyImage result for switzerland world cup 2018 jersey


Verdict:

Ranked number six in the FIFA World Rankings, Switzerland are a quality side, but bowing out in the round of 16 to Germany seems likely. Before that they, they will be in a battle with Costa Rica and Serbia for second spot in Group E. It would not be surprising if they don’t even make it to the knock-out stages.

Costa Rica

Image result for costa rica football logo

Manager

Óscar Ramírez

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid, Spain), Patrick Pemberton (Liga Deportiva Alajuelense), Leonel Moreira (Herediano);

Defenders: Cristian Gamboa (Celtic, Scotland), Ian Smith (Norrkoping, Sweden), Ronald Matarrita (New York City, USA), Bryan Oviedo (Sunderland, England), Oscar Duarte (Espanyol, Spain), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Bologna, Italy), Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United, USA), Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps, Canada), Johnny Acosta (Aguilas Dorados, Colombia);

Midfielders: David Guzman (Portland Timbers, USA), Yeltsin Tejeda (Lausanne-Sport, Switzerland), Celso Borges (Deportivo La Coruna, Spain), Randall Azofeifa (Herediano), Rodney Wallace (New York City, USA), Bryan Ruiz (Sporting CP, Portugal), Daniel Colindres (Saprissa), Christian Bolanos (Saprissa);

Forwards: Johan Venegas (Saprissa), Joel Campbell (Real Betis, Spain), Marco Urena (LAFC, USA).

Key player:

Keylor Navas: shot onto the scene in the 2014 World Cup with his reflex saves, and has improved into a top draw keeper since then.

One-to-watch:

Marco Ureña: the striker is always there when his country needs him to step up, scoring many important goals since his debut in 2009.

Young gun:

Rónald Matarrita: the speedy left-back is always looking to make runs forward and forays into the opposition penalty area.

Team overview/style of play:

Surprisingly formidable in major tournaments, the CONCACAF country has decreased its output of solid ball retention and counter attacking prowess since the last World Cup. A general game plan of Bryan Ruiz creating through the midfield and utilising Joel Campbell's pace in the forward line has become less and less of certainty and there has been more reliance on overloading set-pieces and direct counter attacks for scoring opportunities and goals. A predicted five man defensive structure, with 3 centre midfielders ahead allows for counter attacking.

Strengths:


·        Core of the 2014 World Cup campaign team remains


·        Top class goalkeeper

Weaknesses:


·        Heavy reliance on a few European-based players to perform

·        Injury prone players in attack with virtually no depth in the squad


·        Poor tackling and tactical awareness in defence

Predicted line up:



Jerseys:

New Balance Costa Rica Away Jersey Mens 2018 - White - World Cup 2018Related image

Verdict:

The surprise team of the 2014 World Cup, surely Costa Rica can’t repeat the heroics of four years ago. Making it out of the group with this ageing squad seems highly unlikely. No one gave them a chance in 2014 though…

Serbia

Image result for serbia football logo

Manager:

Mladen Krstajic

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Vladimir Stojkovic (Partizan Belgrade), Predrag Rajkovic (Maccabi Tel Aviv), Marko Dmitrovic (Eibar).

Defenders: Aleksandar Kolarov (AS Roma), Branislav Ivanovic (Zenit St. Petersburg), Dusko Tosic (Guangzhou R&F), Antonio Rukavina (Villarreal), Milos Veljkovic (Werder Bremen), Milan Rodic (Red Star Belgrade), Uros Spajic (Krasnodar), Nikola Milenkovic (Fiorentina).

Midfielders: Nemanja Matic (Manchester United), Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace), Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio), Marko Grujic (Liverpool), Adem Ljajic (Torino), Dusan Tadic (Southampton), Filip Kostic (Hamburg SV), Andrija Zivkovic (Benfica), Nemanja Radonjic (Red Star Belgrade).

Strikers: Aleksandar Mitrovic (Newcastle United), Aleksandar Prijovic (PAOK Salonika), Luka Jovic (Benfica).

Key player:

Adem Ljajić: an accomplished passer and creative force with experience at numerous quality Serie A sides.

One-to-watch:

Dušan Tadić: inconsistent, but on his day can be a devastating player capable of scoring and assisting with ease.

Young gun:

Aleksandar Mitrović: the powerful striker is in the form of his life, with 9 national team goals since the start of World Cup qualifying, and 11 goals in 15 games for Fulham this season.

Team overview/style of play:

A solid team on paper with almost all the starting XI playing in big European leagues with top teams, it is the seamless integration of youth players into the national side that has boosted the Serb's potential for a good World Cup campaign. A 4-2-3-1 formation allows all of Serbia's big name talents to be in their preferred playing positions and given the ability to impact the game. Additionally, many of the starting XI players have hit form for their clubs at the right time of the year, heading into the World Cup. With youthful enthusiasm and veteran guile, Serbia could upset many nations not only in the group stage but in the knock-out phase if they progress. Attitude and discipline can often at times be the Achilles heel of many Serbian players, but if this is kept in check you never know where this team can go.

Strengths:


·        Defensive structure and intelligent pressing

·        Youthful pace and trickery in attack

·        Commanding balance in midfield


·        Crossing ability with a strong target man in the box

Weaknesses:


·        Tournament inexperience in both the coaching department and players

·        Depth of the squad in key defensive positions like centre back


·        Attitude and internal discipline within the team

Predicted line up:



Jerseys:


Verdict:

Having missed the 2014 World Cup, Serbia return to the world stage boasting a strong squad. Unfortunately for them though, they are in a tough group and making it to the knockout stages is far from certain.











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