By 90Min
June 16, 2018

Brazil come into this World Cup as hot favourites, despite the fact they haven’t won a tournament held by a European nation since 1958. It’s traditionally not been a happy hunting ground for the competition's most successful team, and they enter this one off the back of a 7-1 humiliation in their last World Cup outing against Germany.

Brazil have also endured two woeful Copa America campaigns since then, being eliminated by Paraguay in the first knockout round of the 2015 tournament and crashing out in the group stages in 2016. The team has matured a lot since then though, and qualified strongly for this World Cup.

Switzerland meanwhile enter the competition with little expectations, despite their current FIFA world ranking of sixth. They can expect to potentially get out of the group, but beyond that they could struggle. A quarter-final appearance would signify a highly successful tournament.


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For Brazil, things have been pretty good since they reached a new low with that Copa America group stage exit. Dunga paid the price for that shock exit, and was dismissed as the national team manager - subsequently being replaced by Tite.

Since Tite took charge, Brazil have only been beaten once in 21 games, winning 17 of those matches and scoring 47 goals. 

They cruised through qualifying, finishing 10 points ahead of second-placed Uruguay in the qualification table. Brazil have only conceded twice since September 2016 and enter the competition off the back of impressive victories over Germany, Croatia and Austria.

Switzerland also qualified strongly, losing just once in their qualification group against Portugal. They also got positive results from their warm-up games, with big wins over Panama and Japan, before a draw with Spain.

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That one defeat to Portugal was the first time Switzerland have been beaten in 90 minutes since a 2015 defeat to England, so both teams enter this one in fine fettle. 


World Cup Highlight


Brazil are five time winners of the tournament, so there’s been plenty of memorable World Cup moments for them. They’ve had their share of World Cup heartbreak too, having failed to lift the trophy twice on home soil. One final defeat in 1950, and last year’s semi-final humbling remains a blotch on their international record.

If there was a pick of the bunch it would probably be the 1970 World Cup final in Mexico City. A 4-1 triumph remains the joint largest margin of victory in a World Cup final with legends Pele and Jairzinho on the scoresheet that day.

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Switzerland have never been past the first knockout round, so quite the contrary to Brazil. If one of those early exits stands out though, it was in 1954 when Switzerland were playing on home soil.

The Swiss emerged from the group stage behind England and played out a classic encounter with local rivals Austria. The match finished with a resounding 7-5 loss, unfortunately in favour of the Austrian's - but the Swiss stars at least went out by providing entertainment galore for the home fans. 


Team News

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Brazil have had a few injury scares in the build-up to the first group game, not least of all Neymar, who has twice brushed with danger. The Brazilian needed treatment during the Austria warm-up game, before falling victim to a freak accident involving a safety barrier.

New Manchester United signing Fred also suffered an injury in training, and is unlikely to feature in the first fixture.

Granit Xhaka picked up a knee injury in training, but appears to have recovered fully before this fixture. Switzerland are now expected to be at full strength.


Predicted Line-ups


Brazil (4-3-3): Alisson, Marcelo, Miranda, Silva, Danilo, Coutinho, Casemiro, Paulinho, Neymar, Jesus, Willian


Switzerland (4-2-3-1): Sommer, Rodriguez, Djourou, Schar, Lichtsteiner, Xhaka, Behrami, Embolo, Dzemaili, Shaqiri, Seferovic


Prediction

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As it's the opening group game, neither side will want to overexert themselves and given both sides defensive records, it would suggest a stalemate could be on the cards. 

Brazil will also be well aware that Switzerland are the biggest threat they face though and will probably want to enforce their ascendancy in the group early.

Switzerland have an excellent record over the last three years and have earned their way into a top-six spot in the world rankings. Brazil just have so much attacking talent though, and will surely be too much for the Swiss to handle. It could become a matter of damage limitation if Brazil score early.

Prediction: Brazil 2-0 Switzerland

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