2018 FIFA World Cup – Group E

Brazil vs Switzerland | Sunday 17 June | Rostov Arena | 20:00

Brazil will be looking to bounce back from their 2014 World Cup disappointment where they were annihilated 7-1 by Germany in front of their own fans. They became the first country to qualify for this tournament after brushing aside other South American teams. They have a perfectly balanced side, which for me, is the only one that can match France pound for pound in the upcoming soccer spectacle. Switzerland will be hoping to have a fully fit Granit Xhaka to stabilise their midfield against one of the best teams in the world. This is a tough encounter for the Swiss against one of the favourites.

To Win
Brazil 4/10
Draw 34/10
Switzerland 13/2

Brazil

Brazil will be delighted to have Neymar back from injury as he has recovered in the nick of time for the first game after the French Ligue 1 Footballer of the Season sat out almost the whole second half of the campaign. His injury in the critical moment of the 2014 World Cup psychologically shattered his countrymen and they got humiliated in the semi-finals against Germany which highlights his importance to the side.

Goalkeeper, Ederson, and his Manchester City teammates, Fernandinho, Danilo and Gabriel Jesus played an integral part in Manchester City’s title winning season – Casemiro and Marcelo have just won their third consecutive UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid, Philippe Coutinho and Paulinho are the Spanish La Liga Champions with Barcelona and Roberto Firmino is a Champions League runner up with Liverpool.

The centre back partnership of Thiago Silva and Marquinhos is tried and tested as they are teammates at PSG, where they’ve just won a domestic treble. Willian has just lifted the FA Cup with Chelsea. Switzerland will really have their work cut out for them against these seasoned campaigners.

Switzerland

Big news coming out of the Swiss camp is that Granit Xhaka is a doubt for the tournament due to a knee injury which he sustained in training. His potential absence could prove a terrible blow as he’s known for those long-range shots and diagonal passes that the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri profit from. For young players like 22-year old defender, Manuel Akanji, who has just joined Borussia Dortmund from Basel, this is a stage to express themselves and rise to prominence. Schweizer Nati reached the 2014 tournament Last 16 where they were knocked out by eventual runners-up, Argentina.

Probable line ups:

Brazil: 4-3-3
Ederson; Danilo, Marquinhos, Silva, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Neymar, Willian, Gabriel Jesus.

Switzerland: 4-2-3-1
Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Akanji, Djourou, Rodriguez; Xhaka, Fernandes; Shaqiri, Dzemaili, Embolo; Seferovic.

Prediction: Brazil (4/10)
Switzerland do fancy their chances of reaching the Last 16 but they already know that they can realistically reach up to six points as it would take a mighty miracle for them to get something out of this game. The only result is to back is a convincing Brazil win.

Benedict Ngwenya

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