Sports

Tite’s rejuvenated Brazil pumped for World Cup

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KATHMANDU, June 6: Brazil is a prime contender to top the Group E going into the World Cup finals, with Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia also fighting for the top two places.

Brazil had suffered a shocking and painful 7-1 defeat at the hands of Germany in the semifinals of the last World Cup finals when it hosted the tournament in 2014. 

Brazil 
Introduction 
Hot favorites Brazil will be heading to Russia with only one goal: winning the trophy for the record sixth time. 

Brazil had just nine points after the end of six round of fixtures in the CONMEBOL qualification campaign for the World Cup under Dunga, but as soon as it appointed Tite as the head coach on June 20, 2016, the stakes started to rise and Brazil won the qualifying campaign with 10 wins, two draws and no games lost. 

Top class goalkeepers
Alisson will most likely be the leading choice for goalkeeping duties, while Ederson will be hoping to cement a place in the lineup considering his rich vein of form this season. The other option for the position is Corinthians’ Cassio Ramos. 

Variety of defensive options 
Joao Miranda, Marquinhos, and Thiago Silva are top options for the center back roles. 

Miranda and Marquinhos will most likely start for the Selecao as former captain Silva’s poor form with PSG might get him benched.

It has a good depth in the fullback positions with Fagner Lemos and Danilo Silva’s inclusions for the right back role, while Marcelo and Filipe Luis fighting for the left back position.

Balanced midfield and superb attack 
Brazil has one of the best midfield in world football right now as two fantastic defensive midfielders Casemiro and Fernandinho in the squad. 

Paulinho, Fred, and Philippe Coutinho might as well start in the other midfield positions, while Renato Augusto might get some game time as an attacking midfielder. Coutinho can also play in the left wing or as an attacking midfielder, but he might not get a nod ahead of Neymar in the left flank. 

With Neymar the possible starter in the left, and either Willian or Douglas Costa to start from the right, Taison can also play in the right flank.

Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino will compete for the places in the center forward role, but Firmino can also operate as an attacking midfielder, but is most unlikely under Tite’s system.

Switzerland 
Introduction 
As the top place for the group already looks cemented by Brazil, the second place is up for grabs. Switzerland, who finished second in Group B in the UEFA qualifications and got to the World Cup with a 1-0 win over Northern Ireland in the two-legged playoffs, will be hoping to get that place. 

Goalkeepers and defense 
Yann Sommer will most likely be the goalkeeper to be between the sticks for Switzerland as he was prioritized mostly by coach Vladimir Petkovic in the qualifiers, while he will be given backups by Roman Burki and Yvon Mvogo. 

Petkovic has picked up four reliable center backs in Manuel Akanji, Johan Djourou, Fabian Schar and Nico Elvedi, but it’s not sure of who will start between Akanji, Djourou, and Schar as they were rotated heavily.

Stephan Lichtsteiner and Michael Lang are the candidates for the right back roles, while Ricardo Rodriguez and Francois Moubandje will compete for the left back duties. 

Compatible midfield and reliable attack 
Switzerland has a variety of options in the midfield with Blerim Dzemaili and Gelson Fernandez as the main defensive midfielders and will be rotated frequently, while Valon Behrami, Remo Freuler, and Granit Xhaka are the center midfielders for the team. 

Xhaka can play in the defensive midfield role too, while Dzemaili can be deployed as a center midfielder too. 

Denis Zakaria will most likely sit on the bench and will be brought when needed in the defensive midfield position. 

Steven Zuber and Xherdan Shaquiri are the right wingers in the team, but Zuber can play as a left winger too, if needed. 

There are four forwards in the team in Haris Seferovic, Mario Gavranovic, Breel Embolo and Josip Drmic, and the possible starter for the team is Seferovic.

Costa Rica 
Introduction

Costa Rica was the surprise of the last World Cup finals in Brazil when it emerged as the winner of the group which had Uruguay, Italy and England. It went through to the quarterfinals losing to the Netherlands on penalties. 

It became second in the CONCACAF qualification and advanced to the World Cup finals for just the fifth time in its history. 

Goalkeepers and defense 
Real Madrid starter Keylor Navas will most likely start in goal with Patrick Pemberton and Leonel Moreira as backups. 

Costa Rica usually plays with five defenders at the back including three center backs and two full backs. Johnny Acosta, Giancarlo Gonzalez and Kendall Waston are the probable starters for the team, while they might be accompanied by Francisco Calvo and Oscar Duarte. 

Ian Smith and Cristian Gamboa are right backs in the team, with Gamboa most likely to play, while the left  flank will be occupied by Bryan Oviedo and Ronald Matarrita. 

Midfield and attack 
Celson Borges and Yeltsin Tejeda are the most likely options to start in the defensive midfield role for the team, with David Guzman as the center midfielder. 

Christian Bolanos will most likely be deployed in a left midfield, with Daniel Colindres and Rodney Wallace at the right. Randall Azofeifa can play on right as well or an attacking midfielder along with Guzman. 

Joel Campbell and captain Bryan Ruiz can either play in the right midfield or the right wing role. 

Johan Venegas and Marco Urena are the candidates for the center forward role.

Serbia 
Introduction 

Serbia’s return to the World Cup finals after missing out on the 2014 edition sees a new and balanced side under Mladen Krstajic who topped its qualification group which had Republic of Ireland, Wales and Austria, among others. 

Goalkeepers and defense 
Vladimir Stojkovic is likely to start for Serbia, with Predrag Rajkovic to fight for his place. They will be backed up by Marko Dmitrovic.

Branislav Ivanovic, Dusko Tosic and Uroas Spajic are the main center back pairing for the team which plays three at the back, with Milos Veljkovic as other option. 

Antonio Rukavina and Aleksandar Kolarov are the right and the left wing backs respectively, while they will be supported by Nikola Milenkovic and Milan Rodic in the respective positions.

Midfield and attack 
Nemanja Matic is key defensive midfielder for the team supported by either Luka Milivojevic or Marko Grujic, who both can play in center midfield roles. 

Dusan Tadic and Sergej Milinković-Savić are the playmakers in the team in which Savic can play both as a central midfielder and as an attacking midfielder. The other attacking midfielder is Adem Ljajic. 

Andrija Zivkovic is the wide player who can play both as a right or a left winger, while Filip Kostic can operate as a right winger, and Nemanja Radanojic is the left winger. 

Aleksandar Mitrovic will lead the attacking line, while Aleksandar Prijovic will back him up in that position. Luka Jovic is also quality option.

June 6, 2018 03:20 PM