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Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia – Martin Keown's World Cup guide

Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia – Martin Keown's World Cup guide

By Martin Keown for the Daily Mail

Published: 11:44 EDT, 13 June 2018 | Updated: 11:44 EDT, 13 June 2018

The four-year countdown is over, the World Cup finally kicks off on Thursday and it promises to be yet another scintillating tournament.

Group E contains Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia.

Sportsmail's MARTIN KEOWN gives his rundown of each team in Group E, including the manager, the man to watch out for, their strength and their biggest weakness.  

BRAZIL

FIFA ranking: 2 Odds: 4-1

World Cup best: Five-time winners (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)

THE BOSS: Tite

The 7-1 humiliation by Germany at their home World Cup was a national tragedy but Tite has transformed Brazil into one of the most feared sides once more. He has lost just one of his 21 games in charge. 

THE STAR: Neymar

Unquestionably the talisman of this team. He inspired Brazil to Olympic gold in Rio two years ago and has a great chance for more glory. Scored in the warm-up win over Croatia at Anfield, allaying fears that the PSG forward would not recover in time from his foot injury. 

THE PROSPECT: Gabriel Jesus

The Man City striker, 21, will be licking his lips at the number of chances this side creates. 

KEY STRENGTH

When Neymar was injured in the 2014 quarter-finals, it felt like Brazil’s hopes had been extinguished. Now there are quality players everywhere you look in Jesus, Philippe Coutinho and Willian. 

BIGGEST WEAKNESS

While they have failed to score just three times under Tite, each match was against a side who packed their defence.

Neymar is unquestionably the talisman of this team and Brazil will hope he is on form in Russia

SWITZERLAND

FIFA ranking: 6 Odds: 100-1

World Cup best: Quarter-finals (1934, 1938, 1954) 

THE BOSS: Vladimir Petkovic 

The former social worker did not lose a game at Euro 2016, where the Swiss lost on penalties in the last 16 to Poland. 

THE STAR: Stephan Lichsteiner

He may be 34 but the full back, who Unai Emery has made his first signing at Arsenal, is a flying machine down the wing. 

THE PROSPECT: Breel Embolo 

Switzerland are light on strikers but the Schalke forward, 21, can hurt teams with his pace. 

KEY STRENGTH

A formidable record in qualifying. They won nine of their 10 games, only losing their final match to Portugal.

BIGGEST WEAKNESS

With Haris Seferovic their top-scoring striker on 11, it is difficult to see where the goals will come from.

Stephan Lichsteiner may be 34 but the full back is a flying machine down the wing
Stephan Lichsteiner may be 34 but the full back is a flying machine down the wing

Stephan Lichsteiner may be 34 but the full back is a flying machine down the wing

SERBIA

FIFA ranking: 34 Odds: 100-1

World Cup best: Group stage (2006, 2010)

THE BOSS: Mladen Krstajic 

A no-nonsense defender in his playing days, he took over in October when Slavoljub Muslin was sacked after securing qualification. 

THE STAR: Nemanja Matic

The man who Jose Mourinho calls an ‘island of personality’ is the midfield general for club and country. 

THE PROSPECT: Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

The Lazio midfielder, 23, is so highly rated that Muslin lost his job after refusing to pick him. 

KEY STRENGTH

The form of Aleksandar Mitrovic, who hit 12 goals in 20 games for Fulham. 

BIGGEST WEAKNESS

An ageing defence with the likes of Branislav Ivanovic and Aleksandar Kolarov. 

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is so highly rated Slavoljub Muslin lost his job after refusing to pick him
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is so highly rated Slavoljub Muslin lost his job after refusing to pick him

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is so highly rated Slavoljub Muslin lost his job after refusing to pick him

COSTA RICA

FIFA ranking: 23 Odds: 300-1

World Cup best: Quarter-finals (2014) 

THE BOSS: Oscar Ramirez

Took over in 2015 after former Derby striker Paulo Wanchope resigned for brawling with a steward in a game against Panama. 

THE STAR: Keylor Navas

Recently won his third Champions League title with Real Madrid... though will be tested a lot more in Russia! 

THE PROSPECT: Joel Campbell

More of a one to watch. He shone in 2014 but his season at Real Betis was hit by injury. 

KEY STRENGTH

Nine of their XI from the 2014 quarter-final are in Russia. 

BIG WEAKNESS

Poor pre-tournament form, losing to England.

Joel Campbell shone in 2014 but his season at Real Betis was hit by injury
Joel Campbell shone in 2014 but his season at Real Betis was hit by injury

Joel Campbell shone in 2014 but his season at Real Betis was hit by injury


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