More than half way there! Time to take a look at Group E for the 2018 FIFA World Cup! Daily reminder of what the groups look like.
Here we go!
Draw: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
A good group here with a lot of talent. No team ranked under 40 and 2 in the top 15. However, this group could see some upsets happening.
2) Costa Rica
The easiest pick of the lot. The number 2 ranked team in the world right now should have no problem getting through this group. A squad stacked with the best players in the world at every position, and they are deep too. Ederson (Manchester City, England) has shown fantastic form as of late, helping City to a record breaking start. In the back, Marcelo (Real Madrid, Spain) is arguably the best outside back in the world. Marquinhos (PSG, France), Thiago Silva (PSG, France) and Dani Alves (PSG, France) all will help in securing the back line as well.
This midfield may be one of the deepest and strongest in the entire tournament. Players like Coutinho (Liverpool, England), Willian (Chelsea, England) and Douglas Costa (Juventus, Italy) will provide attacking flair on the wings. Casermiro (Real Madrid, Spain), Fernandinho (Manchester City, England) and Paulinho (Barcelona, Spain) will help provide stability in the center of the park.
Then there’s the attack, headlined by the most expensive player in the world, Neymar Jr. (PSG, France). He has a great attacking mindset and can make any defender look silly with his skills. He is joined by Roberto Firmino (Liverpool, England), who brings a different, hardworking dynamic to a Brazilian attack full of flair. There is also young standout Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City, England). With 15 goals in just 19 appearances, he is a proven finisher at such a young age, and this World Cup could further cement that title. They should have no problem topping this group with the talent they have.
The first real “shock” in the group stages. Costa Rica is always under looked on the national stage, but they always play so strongly. In the back, Keylor Navas (Real Madrid, Spain) is consistently one of the better goalkeepers in La Liga, and he seems to always play the part when wearing the CRC badge. Kendell Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps, USA), Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United, USA), Cristian Gamboa (Celtic, Scotland) and Ronald Matarrita (NYCFC, USA) will sure up the defense and, more importantly, will add key attacking aide on the wings. One of the reasons they are so dangerous is due to their attacking wing back formation. They overload the flanks and create a lot of chances.
In the midfield, Christian Bolanos (Vancouver Whitecaps, USA) and Johan Venegas (Minnesota Untied, USA) will work hard on the wings, while David Guzman (Portland Timbers, USA) and Celso Borges (Deportivo, Spain) will solidify the center of the midfield.
In attack, Marco Urena (SJ Quakes, USA) leads the line. He leads CRC in scoring with 4 goals in WCQs and had 5 others in MLS this year. He doesn’t score a lot, but he scores when it counts. Joel Campbell (Real Betis, Spain) and Brian Ruiz (Sporting CP, Portugal) will complement Urena nicely. Ruiz has 3 goals and 3 assists to his name in WCQs this year, while Campbell has added 2 goals of his own. While the numbers may not be too flashy, Costa Rice always find a way to get the job done. They will finish in 2nd in the group and move on.
The Serbs are coming off a successful WCQ campaign in a relatively easy group. Vladimir Stojkovic (Partizan, Serbia) leads the team in goal, with Branislav Ivanovic (Zenit, Russia), MatijaNastasic (Shalke 04, Germany) and Alexsander Kolorov (Roma, Italy) in the back line. They have put together 4 clean sheets in the 10 WCQs they have played.
In the midfield, Dusan Tadic (Southampton, England) is the player to watch. He has 4 goals
and 7 assists in 10 WCQ appearances. He will provide the attacking assistance from the midfield while the defensive job is done by Nemanja Matic (Manchester United, England). Matic has proved that he can fill that CDM Role on his own, and do a great job of protecting the back line while others go forward and attack. He averages about 2 tackles and interceptions per game with United, and has helped them to 13 clean sheets in all competitions.
In the midfield, Dusan Tadic (Southampton, England) is the player to watch. He has 4 goals and 7 assists in 10 WCQ appearances. He will provide the attacking part of the midfield while the defensive job is done by Nemanja Matic (Manchester United, England). Matic has proved that he can fill that DM role on his own, and do a great job of protecting the back line while others go forward and attack. He averages about 2 tackles and interceptions per game with United, and has helped them to 13 clean sheets in all competitions.
In attack, Aleksander Mitrovic (Newcastle, England) is the main focal point. He has 6 goals in 9 WCQ appearances, and is in good form with his national team. He can grab a few in the group stage and maybe save some points for his team. Serbia are not the best, but they are in decent form, losing only once since June 11th. They didn’t qualify for the 2014 World Cup and didn’t make it out of the group stage in 2010, so they will have something to prove. That motivation won’t be enough to get them on to the next round, but it will be enough to give them a third place finish in Group E
The number 11 team in the world has slowly been acclimating its staff of young, promising talent to the big stage. They have relied on the old crop of players like Benaglio, Barnetta, and Inler in the past to lead their team. They are all retired from the national team now, and it is time for others to step up. Specifically, Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City, England) and Ricardo Rodriquez (Milan, Italy) will be important to the success of this team. Yann Sommer (M’Gladbach, Germany) has been the first choice in net for the Swiss. Sebastian Lichtsteiner (Juventus, Italy) and Fabian Schar (Deportivo, Spain) will attempt to shut down the opposing attackers in the back line.
The midfield consists of some promising talent. Granit Xhaka (Arsenal, England) has had a decent year in the Premier League and will look to help his nation out in the same way. In an attacking sense, Shaqiri is always someone who brings people to the edge of their seats as he takes players on. Plus, we know he’s capable of some real worldies.
Their main problem comes in their front line. Two of their top 3 goal scorers from WCQs are defenders. Haris Seferovic (Benfica, Portugal) is the team leader with 4. Admir Mehmedi, Leverkusen, Germany) has added 3 of his own, but neither of which are regular starters for their clubs. When looking for someone to help lighten the load, all eyes turn to Breel Embolo (Shalke 04, Germany).
Embolo is one of the most promising young players at the tournament. However, he still does not have that experience yet to prove he is the real deal. He has 7 appearances and 1 goal in 12 WCQs, and on 9 appearances and 0 goals for his club. The Swiss lack a true dangerous attacking option, and against some of the back lines in this group, they will struggle to find the back of the net. If you can’t score, you can’t win. And if you can’t win, you don’t move on. Thus, they will shockingly finish bottom of the group in disappointing fashion.