World Cup Group E: Brazil v Switzerland could be magic
With the tournament already underway, Brazil and Switzerland play their first game at the Rostov Arena in Rostov-On-Don. The 7 pm UK start is the second contest in Group E. Costa Rica and Switzerland will have completed their afternoon match.
There is some history between die Nati and the Selecao. The last time these sides met was in August 2013 for an international friendly. Switzerland won the game due to a Dani Alves own goal. The previous six meetings between the nations were all friendlies, as well. In all, Brazil have three wins and the Swiss two.
The first meeting between these two nations came during the 1950 World Cup in Sao Paulo. Alfredo II and Baltazar scored for the visitors. A brace from Brazil's Jacques Fatton ended the game as a 2-2 draw. Sixty-eight years later, the two sides finally get to kick a ball in anger again.
FIFA Ranking: 2nd
The five-time World Cup champions head into their first game with high expectations. The Selecao wish to erase memories of their embarrassing performance in 2014 at home. Losing 7-1 to Germany during the semi-final on home turf couldn't have gone any worse. Then, losing the third-placed playoff to the Netherlands, made it so.
There is more purpose in this team. Neymar returned from his lengthy injury with two goals in two games against Croatia and Austria in recent friendlies. The squad is strong and deep. It’s also mature, the average age being 28. At 21, Gabriel Jesus is the youngest player.
Verde-Amarela will most likely a 4-3-3 under head coach Tite. Allison will be Brazil's number one, Joao Miranda and Thiago Silva the centre-backs. Danilo and Marcelo will guard the flanks.
The middle three will comprise a defensive midfielder and two central mids. Expect Casemiro to provide cover for Philippe Coutinho and Paulinho.
Brazil’s attacking line-up is not one to take lightly. Neymar is the most obvious threat, raiding from the left flank. Chelsea’s Willian will occupy the right wing. The striking role will most likely be taken by Jesus but it’s a close call between the Manchester City prodigy and Roberto Firmino.
Tite has another World Cup worthy XI in reserve. Filipe Luis, Marquinhos, Ederson, Fernandinho, Fred, Douglas Costa and Taison will be ready for his call. Expect plenty of chances by this side and plenty of goals.
FIFA Ranking: 6th
This much is certain. Switzerland won't be neutral in this World Cup. Rated higher than Spain and France, die Nati are ready to prove their ability to the world. Vladimir Petkovic's side qualified from Europe with nine wins from 10 games in UEFA’s Group B. Their only loss came to Portugal. Switzerland expect to reach the knockout rounds. Their last appearance in 2014 was a 1-0 extra time loss to Argentina during the last 16.
Switzerland usually play a 4-2-3-1 with Haris Seferovic and Mario Gavranovic competing for the lone striker role.
Yann Sommer is most likely to appear between the sticks but Roman Burki has also appeared recently in friendlies. Ricardo Rodriguez and captain Stephan Lichtsteiner will be obvious first choice full-backs. Fabian Schar and Manuel Akanji should be chosen as the central defenders, with Johan Djourou and Nico Elvedi also in the mix.
Granit Xhaka and Valon Behrami will be the two holding mids, with Gelson Fernandes and Denis Zakaria ready to step in. From left to right, Steven Zuber, Blerim Dzemaili and Xherdan Shaqiri will push the ball forward.
This Swiss side has real quality in all areas but can they overcome a star-studded Brazilian side?
It should be quite the tense matchup but I believe Brazil will come out on top. Switzerland may find themselves lucky to get on the scoresheet. But don't be surprised if they do. Still, Brazil has the overall quality oozing from every position on the field. There are goals calling from everywhere. Neymar, Coutinho, Paulinho, Gabriel Jesus. Even their defenders contribute. With one early goal and a couple late, when the Swiss try to press the matter, I’m plumping for a 3-0 Brazil win.