Neymar’s Brazil Looks Strong
Current FIFA Ranking: 2
Previous World Cup appearances: 20 – 1930, 1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014
Best World Cup result: Champions – 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002
June 17 vs Switzerland
June 22 vs Costa Rica
June 27 vs Serbia
Star Player: Neymar
Head coach: Tite
Preferred formation: 4-3-3
Brazil becomes the first side from CONMEBOL to reach Russia in 2018. They sealed their ticket to Russia with a comprehensive win over Paraguay. Neymar starred once again, scoring a goal to become his side’s leading marksman of the qualifiers with six, with Philippe Coutinho and Marcelo also on target.
Brazil is the most successful national team in the history of the World Cup, having won five titles, earning second-place, third-place and fourth-place finishes twice each. Brazil is one of the countries besides Argentina, Spain and Germany to win a FIFA World Cup away from its continent (Sweden 1958, Mexico 1970, USA 1994 and South Korea/Japan 2002). Brazil is the only national team to have played in all FIFA World Cup editions without any absence or need for playoffs. Brazil also has the best overall performance in World Cup history in both proportional and absolute terms with a record of 70 victories in 104 matches played, 119 goal difference, 227 points and only 17 losses.
Traditionally, Brazil’s greatest rival is Argentina. The two countries have met each other four times in the history of the FIFA World Cup, with two wins for Brazil (West Germany 1974 and Spain 1982), one for Argentina (Italy 1990) and a draw (Argentina 1978). The country that played most against Brazil in the finals is Sweden: 7 times, with five wins for Brazil and two draws. Other historical rivals are Italy, which lost two World Cup finals against Brazil and eliminated the Brazilians in two tournaments (France 1938 and Spain 1982), France, which has eliminated Brazil on three occasions (Mexico 1986, France 1998 and Germany 2006)..
Goalkeepers: Alisson, Ederson, Cassio
Defenders: Danilo, Fagner, Marcelo, Filipe Luis, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Miranda, Pedro Geromel
Midfielders: Casemiro, Fernandinho, Paulinho, Fred, Renato Augusto, Philippe Coutinho
Forwards: Neymar, Taison, Gabriel Jesus, Roberto Firmino, Willian, Douglas Costa
Serbia Heading Into the FIFA World Cup
Current FIFA Ranking: 34
Previous World Cup appearances: 11 – 1930, 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1974, 1982, 1990, 1998, 2006, 2010
Best World Cup result: Fourth place – 1930, 1962
June 17 vs Costa Rica
June 22 vs Switzerland
June 27 vs Brazil
Captain: Aleksandar Kolarov
Star Player: Nemanja Matic
Head coach: Mladen Krstajic
Preferred formation: 4-2-3-1
They became the Group D winners in European qualifying, finishing two points clear of the runners-up Republic of Ireland.
From the 1930 FIFA World Cup to the 1990 FIFA World Cup Serbia was part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which competed in the world cup. From the 1994 FIFA World Cup to the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Serbia played with Montenegro. From 2006 to the present, Serbia played as an independent country. After the dissolution of the SFRY, Serbia has not made it to the knockout stages.
They narrowly edged out the Republic of Ireland in qualifying, so will be looking for more consistency in the final tournament.
Goalkeepers: Vladimir Stojkovic, Predrag Rajkovic, Marko Dmitrovic
Defenders: Aleksandar Kolarov, Antonio Rukavina, Milan Rodic, Branislav Ivanovic, Uros Spajic, Milos Veljkovic, Dusko Tosic, Nikola Milenkovic
Midfielders: Nemanja Matic, Luka Milivojevic, Marko Grujic, Dusan Tadic, Andrija Zivkovic, Filip Kostic, Nemanja Radonjic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Adem Ljajic
Forwards: Aleksandar Mitrovic, Aleksandar Prijovic, Luka Jovic
Switzerland Opts for Experience
Current FIFA Ranking: 6
Previous World Cup appearances: 10 – 1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1962, 1966, 1994, 2006, 2010, 2014
Best World Cup result: Quarter-finals – 1934, 1938, 1954
June 17 vs Brazil
June 22 vs Serbia
June 27 vs Costa Rica
Captain: Stephan Lichtsteiner
Star Player: Granit Xhaka
Head coach: Vladimir Petkovic
Preferred formation: 4-2-3-1
Switzerland held off Northern Ireland to seal a place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia with a 1-0 aggregate play-off victory. Vladimir Petkovic’s side wasted numerous first-half chances as the Northern Irish stayed in the tie, but Ricardo Rodriguez’s controversial first-leg penalty in Belfast proved enough for the Swiss to reach their fourth consecutive World Cup.
Switzerland has appeared in the finals of the World Cup on ten occasions, the first being at the second finals in 1934 where they finished in the seventh position. Its best performances in the World Cup have been reaching the quarter-finals three times, in 1934, 1938 and when the country hosted the event in 1954. Switzerland also won silver at the 1924 Olympics.
In 2006, Switzerland set a FIFA World Cup record by being eliminated from the competition despite not conceding a goal, losing to Ukraine in a penalty shootout. in the round of 16, by failing to score a single penalty – becoming the first national team in Cup history to do this. They would not concede a goal until their second group stage match in the 2010 World Cup, conceding a goal in the 74th minute to Chile, setting a World Cup finals record for consecutive minutes without conceding a goal.
Goalkeepers: Roman Burki, Yvon Mvogo, Yann Sommer
Defenders: Manuel Akanji, Johan Djourou, Nico Elvedi, Michael Lang, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Jacques-Francois Moubandje, Ricardo Rodriguez, Fabian Schaer
Midfielders: Valon Behrami, Blerim Dzemaili, Gelson Fernandes, Remo Freuler, Xherdan Shaqiri, Granit Xhaka, Steven Zuber, Denis Zakaria
Forwards: Josip Drmic, Breel Embolo, Mario Gavranovic, Haris Seferovic
Costa Rica Can Catch Opponents by Surprise
Team: Costa Rica
Current FIFA Ranking: 23
Previous World Cup appearances: 4 – 1990, 2002, 2006, 2014
Best World Cup result: 2014 – Quarter-finals
June 17 vs Serbia
June 22 vs Brazil
June 27 vs Switzerland
Captain: Bryan Ruiz
Star Player: Keylor Navas
Head coach: Oscar Ramirez
Preferred formation: 3-4-2-1
Costa Rica, qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, in the fifth round of CONCACAF qualification matches played from 11 November 2016 to 10 October 2017. They finished second behind Mexico in the North, Central America and Caribbean standings.
Costa Rica is the most successful national football team in the history of Central America. They have won three CONCACAF (1963, 1969 and 1989) and a leading with eight championships in the Copa Centro-americana and its predecessor. Costa Rica is the only national team in Central America to have played in four FIFA World Cup editions.
Since the late 1980s, the team has continuously been visible as a solidly competitive side, with a prominent performance in the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy, making it to the knockout stage in their debut after finishing second in their group during the first phase, below Brazil. They also managed to qualify for the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. In 2014, Costa Rica made their best performance in history by finishing first in their group that consisted of three former World Cup champions: Uruguay, Italy, and England.
Costa Rica is unlikely to win the World Cup any time soon, but the most successful Central American side are always capable of causing an upset at the tournament
Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas, Patrick Pemberton, Leonel Moreira
Defenders: Johnny Acosta, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Ian Smith, Oscar Duarte, Bryan Oviedo, Francisco Calvo, Cristian Gamboa, Kendall Waston, Ronald Matarrita
Midfielders: Celso Borges, Christian Bolanos, Bryan Ruiz, Rodney Wallace, Randall Azofeifa, Yeltsin Tejeda, David Guzman
Forwards: Daniel Colindres, Johan Venegas, Joel Campbell, Marco Urena