2018 World Cup, Group E Preview: Tite's Brazil ready to roar in Russia

Chloe Beresford by Chloe Beresford / 12 June 2018, 08:58

Group E features five-time tournament winners Brazil, a reliable Switzerland side, erratic yet talented Serbia, along with potential surprise package Costa Rica, four teams who will compete for the top-2 spots.

Four managers have been tasked with leading their respective countries through to the 2018 World Cup knockout stages. We assess each of their chances below.

  • Tite (Brazil)
  • Oscar Ramirez (Costa Rica)
  • Mladen Krstajic (Serbia)
  • Vladimir Petkovic (Switzerland)

Brazil Manager: Tite

Tite

After a humiliating 7-1 defeat to Germany in the last World Cup, Brazil understandably set out to replace Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, eventually opting for ex-Captain Dunga to take up the hot-seat. With poor results in the CONMEBOL qualifying group and a negative style of play, the former midfielder was replaced by Tite, a man who had plenty of experience in the Brazilian league with the likes of Corinthians.

With the new boss at the helm, Brazil went undefeated in the final 12 matches of qualifying (10 wins, two draws), ending up on 41 goals and having conceded just 11. Yet that was not all as Tite set about a revolution in the side, his focus on finding a balance in both the attacking and defensive phases of the game. A more complete side look scarily adept going into this tournament, one in which we could see Brazil lift the trophy once again.

Interesting Fact: Tite took a one-year sabbatical in 2014 in order to focus on studying modern football.

Prediction: Finalists

Costa Rica Manager: Oscar Ramirez

Oscar Ramirez

At 500/1 to reach the final and 5/1 to make it to the knockout stages, Costa Rica are very much an unfavoured side heading into this World Cup and face a tough set of group stage matches. However, these underdogs enjoy the element of surprise, reaching the quarter-finals after advancing through the group along with Uruguay at the expense of both Italy and England.

Ramirez replaced Paulo Wanchope as national team Coach in 2015, and praised England after losing 2-0 to the Three Lions at Wembley in a World Cup warm-up match on June 7th. Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas is the most recognisable name in a squad that contains no less than six members who play their domestic football in MLS.

Can Ramirez and his men side pull off a shock once again?

Interesting Fact: Ramirez was part of the Costa Rica side that played their first ever World Cup match in 1990, beating Scotland 1-0 at Genoa’s Stadio Luigi Ferraris.

Prediction: Group Stage

Serbia Manager: Mladen Krstajic

Mladen Krstajic

Serbia enter the World Cup as somewhat of an unknown quantity, having fired Coach Slavoljub Muslin just three weeks after he secured this side’s qualification to the summer tournament after being criticised for having failed to fully utilise some of the squad’s star players. Former player Mladen Krstajic was handed the reins but – with no previous managerial experience – the 44-year-old may find it tough in Russia.

That said, the new man has former Manchester City left-back Aleksandar Kolarov, Nemanja Matic of Manchester United and supremely talented Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to call on, that core of talented players seeing bookmakers place Serbia at 12/5 to be eliminated in the round of 16.

Interesting Fact: Krstajic stripped Branislav Ivanovic of the captaincy upon his appointment, replacing him with Kolarov and placing Matic in the Vice Captain role.

Prediction: Last-16

Switzerland Manager: Vladimir Petkovic

Vladimir Petkovic

Steady, reliable, stable - these are all words that could be used to describe a Switzerland side managed by former Lazio boss Vladimir Petkovic. The Coach has overseen some consistent improvement since taking on the role in 2014, and has seen his squad mature, many of the players reaching their peak age to coincide with this summer’s tournament.

However, the Swiss have struggled to score goals and lack a cutting edge up front, something that Petkovic will have to address if he is to see his side progress beyond the group stages. A difficult fixture with Germany is likely to be waiting should Switzerland reach the last sixteen, a match that ought to see the end for them, even if they can advance to the knockout rounds.

Interesting Fact: Petkovic won the Coppa Italia with Lazio in 2013, defeating cross-city rivals AS Roma by a 1-0 scoreline.

Prediction: Group Stage

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