2018 FIFA World Cup Preview
The 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup is on our doorstep. The most publicized sporting event in the world… Yes, yes, even before the Olympic Games, will once again bring together the countries of the planet around the same passion. THIRTY-TWO nations have qualified for this great tournament, some for the first time, others are accustomed and some that… will shine by their absence. Over the next few weeks, before the start of the “beautiful game” tourney, FanPicks will cover every nation participating in the group stage. Don’t forget to enter the World Cup contests at fanpicks.com
Creator of the football-samba, Brazil was humiliated at home in the last World Cup during a historical defeat of 7 to 1 in the semifinals against Germany. Last non-European country to have won a World Cup in Europe, it was in 1958 in Sweden, Brazil will want to show the whole planet that it is back at the top. The only team that has participated in all editions of the World Cup, Brazil has 5 titles – a record best – has won 70 games in the final stage – another record best – and is displayed as one of the major favorites of the competition. Only shadow looming is Neymar’s health. He hurt his ankle last February and had to go under the scalpel. Will he be 100% come game time is anybody’s guess. However with Philippe Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus, Dani Alves, Marquinhos, Marcelo and Casemiro, Brazil will not disappoint this time around!
The Swiss team needed to go by the play offs to qualify for its 11th World Cup presence, and a fourth consecutive one. Qualified in front of Ireland, Switzerland holds a curious record: that of being the only team eliminated at the group stage, without having given a single goal in its three games in 2006. In the last game, Ukraine beat them to the wire, without Switzerland scoring one! They went three times in the quarter-finals, the last being in 1954, and were unable to do better than the first round of elimination since. Perhaps Granit Xhaka, a shining midfielder from the Arsenal football club, can push them further. The Swiss national has the strengths to do better than ever before. They hold the 6th spot in the world rankings.
Costa Rica will be in their 5th World Cup participation. They were the cinderella team of 2014, with their best result achieved, a place in the quarter-final. This feat was the excellent work of goalkeeper Keylor Navas, subsequently recruited by Real Madrid, which allowed Costa Rica to go so far. It will take another surprise of this kind to repeat that achievement.
It will be the second World Cup in Serbia’s colours after having played 9 with Yugoslavia and one with Serbia and Montenegro. With its 35th rank in the FIFA ranking, it is the lowest ranked team in the group, but they still shouldn’t be underestimated. During their first participation in 2010, they were able to defeat Germany 1-0. They however failed to get out of the group stage that same year. Defender Branislav Ivanovic has passed the 100 selections with the national team.