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World Cup 2018 Group E Preview: Seleccao to banish demons of 2014

  • We're looking ahead to this summer's World Cup with our Group E preview
  • Can Brazil banish the demons of 2014 as they face Switzerland, Costa Rica & Serbia?

Neymar of Brazil controls the ball (credit: Getty Images)

World Cup 2018 Group E Preview. After the humiliating nature of their exit on home soil four years ago, the Seleccao are looking to re-establish themselves as the dominant force of international football in Russia this summer.

Group E fixtures

Match 10
17 June 2018
12.00pm BST
Costa Rica v Serbia
Cosmos Arena, Samara

Match 9
17 June 2018
8pm BST
Brazil v Switzerland
Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don

Match 25
22 June 2018
12.00pm BST
Brazil v Costa Rica
Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg

Match 26
22 June 2018
7.00pm BST
Serbia v Switzerland
Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad

Match 41
27 June 2018
6.00pm BST
Serbia v Brazil
Otkrytiye Arena, Moscow

Match 42
27 June 2018
6.00pm BST
Switzerland v Costa Rica
Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod


Having won this tournament five times before, Brazil are the most successful team in international football history. With the home advantage at the last tournament, the weight of expectation was on their shoulders and perhaps that tension led to the embarrassing exit as they were mauled 7-1 by eventual winners Germany in the semi-finals, before going down 3-0 to the Netherlands in the third place play-off, meaning a serious reshuffle has occurred over the last four years with the Seleccao.

But that rethink appears to be paying off. In the dugout, Tite appears to have brought some real morale back to this underperforming squad and a raft of talented youngsters have made the breakthrough of late including Manchester City duo Gabriel Jesus and Ederson. After some terrific performances in qualifying they were the first team to book their flight to Russia through the CONMEBOL section and they'll be hoping to be dominant again in this group at least ahead of the knock-out stages.

Key man: Neymar. Brazil's hopes of claiming the World Cup trophy as their own were handed a severe dent when Neymar picked up a back injury during the Quarter Final stages on their own turf. Four years on and the forward has matured incredibly and become the most expensive footballer on the planet following his move to PSG. At 25, he has already smashed in over 50 international goals for Canarinhos, would you back against him adding to that tally this summer?


Switzerland are starting to become a regular feature at international tournaments, having only failed to qualify for one European Championship since the 2002 World Cup in Japan. Having not made it to the final eight stage of the World Cup since 1954 however, el Nati haven't been able to really effect these competitions in the latter stages and they even failed to make it past the Round of 16 at the last Euros in France back in 2016.

Having won nine of their 10 matches in qualifying, Vladimic Petkovic's men were perhaps unfortunate to finish second behind Portugal in their group, but they received a rather large slice of luck to earn a fortunate penalty in the away leg of their tie against Northern Ireland, which ultimately proved to be the difference between the two sides. The likes of Breel Embolo and Xherdan Shaqiri will have to be quicker to pick the lock if their side are to cause any real threat to the major sides at this summer's competition.

Key man: Stephan Lichtsteiner. It may seem slightly strange for a full-back to be considered the key player in any side, but it's the Swiss captain's experience that makes him invaluable to Vladimir Petkovic's side. With 96 caps to his name and an array of honours to his name from his successful spell with current club Juventus, he provides a calming influence to some of the more talented but inexperienced individuals like Breel Embolo and Denis Kazaria.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica were the surprise package of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, reaching the final eight stage and only missing out on the semi-finals after losing to Louis van Gaal's Netherlands outfit in the Quarter Finals. Given the lack of quality on paper possessed by their squad it came as a huge shock that La Sele managed to get that far but they'll be hoping to upset the odds again by progressing through the group stages at least in Russia.

After making their way through to the fifth round of the CONCACAF section of qualifying, Oscar Ramirez's men beat off competition from the likes of Trinidad and Tobago and the United States to secure their spot on the plane to Russia, but they've been handed a tough group in Russia with two strong European sides that are tough to break down along with the challenge of the most successful team in the history of the competition in the shape of Brazil.

Key man: Bryan Ruiz. Whilst there are very few stand-out stars in this Costa Rica outfit, their success in recent years has been built on a real togetherness, with a tight-knit squad that has played a lot of football together. Captain Bryan Ruiz may be remembered by English fans for his tumultuous spell at Fulham, but the 32 year old has been the creative lynchpin for his country for many years now, racking up over 100 caps since making his debut in 2005.


Serbia have only qualified for one major international tournament since gaining independence prior to this summer's competition in Brazil. Having failed to make Brazil four years ago and having not yet managed to reach a European Championships in their last three attempts. As such, they will see this tournament as a chance to impress and show how far they've been progressing of late, which is a fair amount.

Despite the challenge of facing both the Republic of Ireland and Wales in qualifying, both of whom managed to reach the final 16 stage at least of Euro 2016, Orlovi managed to top the group and avoid a tricky play-off tie to book their place on the plane. If their qualifying performances are anything to go by, Mladen Krstajic's men will look to be strong at the back and difficult to break down whilst hoping Filip Kostic and Dusan Tadic can provide the creative spark.

Key Man: Branislav Ivanovic. Similarly to Lichtsteiner for Switzerland, Ivanovic provides defensive stability and top-level experience to his nation and leads by example as captain of the side. The Zenit St Petersburg man who recently reached the 100 cap mark has won all the trophies there are to win domestically during his time with Chelsea and he'll hope to be influential in a positive campaign for Orlovi this summer by organising their stoic defence.

Group E betting tip

There's little value in backing Brazil to win the group and when you compare their squad to the other three it's not difficult to see why. As such, we're looking at the 'to qualify' market to see who may be heading through alongside the Seleccao and it's difficult to look past a Switzerland side that performed excellently in qualifying, winning their first nine matches before falling to Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal and having to face Northern Ireland in a tough play-off clash.

Despite the Green and White Army's defensive solidity, el Nati managed to find a way past them and that's what we expect them to do against the well-drilled opposition of both Serbia and Costa Rica. Players like Breel Embolo and Xherdan Shaqiri have the ability to create something out of nothing and the extra quality that those two in particular possess could be vital against the deep defences of Orlovi and el Sele.

Switzerland to qualify @ Evens with Ladbrokes


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World Cup 2018 Group E Preview: Seleccao to banish demons of 2014

World Cup 2018 Group E Preview. After the humiliating nature of their exit on home soil four years ago, the Seleccao are looking to re-establish themselves as the dominant force of international football in Russia this summer.

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