X-raying 2018 World Cup teams – Group E

Brazil

This particular group houses one of the top favorites for the top prize in Russia; but whether or not Brazil would match their pre-tournament ratings is yet to be seen.

Interestingly, the other three teams look evenly matched hence the battle for a Second-Round ticket should be as intense as it can be.

Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia

Brazil

The South American side was the first after Russia to pick a ticket to the 2018 World Cup. With the appointment of Tite as coach, the Selecao overcame the depression following their 7-1 loss to Germany in the semifinal of the last World Cup. Since September 2016, the revived side have had 13 wins, the most recent against Croatia at Anfield.

Neymar and his colleagues also have three draws and just one loss in the period under review.

Average Age: 27.9

Total number of Caps: 690

FIFA Ranking: 2

Best Position: Champions 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002

Coach: Adenor Bacchi (57 years)

Key Players: Neymar, William, Phillips Continho

Nickname: A Selecao

Conclusion: The Brazilians are favourites going into this World Cup in Russia. After missing out on an unprecedented sixth title on home soil last time out, the Samba Boys look fired up to conquer the world again

Switzerland

Nine straight wins in a relatively easy group still did not see Switzerland picking an automatic ticket to the World Cup. A play off against Northern Ireland was needed to secure a place in Russia.

With their coach making his debut at the World Cup, Switzerland will hope to be the surprise package of this group

Average Age: 27.6

Caps: 854

FIFA Ranking: 6

Coach: Vladimir Petkovic (54 years)

Best position: Quarter finals in 1934, 1938, 1954

Key players: Valon Behrami, Xherdan Shaqiri, Granit Xhaka

Nickname: La Nati, Schweizer Nati

Conclusion: They could indeed be one of the surprise packages in Russia. Even though they do not boast of many star names, they are a closely-knitted side capable of doing big things on their day.

Costa Rica

The Central American nation will be attending its fifth tournament, an impressive achievement for a nation with a population of under 5 million. They picked an automatic CONCACAF ticket with one game to spare, beating the likes of USA along the way.

Average Age: 29.0

Caps: 1162

Best Position: Quarter finals 2014

FIFA Ranking: 25

Nickname: Los Ticos

Coach: Oscar Ramirez (53 years)

Key Players: Keylor Navas, Bryan Ruiz, Celso Borges

Conclusion: At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Costa Rica had their best tournament so far, reaching the Quarter finals. In this group, they are the most experienced with over 1000 caps between the team members, if that counts for anything, they should at least make it beyond the group stage in Russia.

Serbia

Serbia returned to the World Cup for the second time since gaining independence in a beautiful fashion. The highly skilled team scored 20 goals en-route qualification; the most in their group. The coach who led them, Slavoljub Muslin, was however sacked despite this fantastic run.

Average Age: 27.8

Caps: 563

FIFA Ranking: 35

Best Position: 4th place 1930, 1962 as Yugoslavia

Nickname: The Eagles

Coach: Mladen Krstajic (44 years)

Key players: Branislav Ivanovic, Aleksandar Kolarov, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Nemanja Matic

Conclusion: Krstajic has been saddled with the responsibility of seeing the Eagles soar in Russia. As an ‘unknown quality’, he gives Serbia some measure of unpredictability.


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