Brazil kick-off title challenge against Switzerland

Brazil kick-off title challenge against Switzerland

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Brazil vs Switzerland – Sunday, June 17, 19:00BST/20:00CEST/21:00 MSK – Rostov Arena, Rostov, Russia

Brazil vs Switzerland will take place at the Rostov Arena (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP)

Brazil vs Switzerland will take place at the Rostov Arena (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP)

On Sunday Brazil enter the tournament with a look to overcome the 7-1 defeat to Germany from four years ago. One of the favourites, thanks to the rebuilding effort by new head coach Tite, Brazil will want to set the tone right away when they face Switzerland at the Rostov Arena.

Ahead of the World Cup one of the main questions for Brazil was whether Neymar would be fit to play. The Paris Saint-Germain forward, however, looked good in training sessions and will feature in the first match of the tournament. His presence will be key as it means that Tite can field a more flexible attacking three that will likely include Willian and Gabriel Jesus as well.

That attack will be almost impossible to stop by any opponent that Brazil faces. But questions remain over the side’s defence. At the centre of the pitch, Brazil lack a true world class defender and out wide Marcelo lacks in his defensive work, and neither Danilo or Fagner constitute world class on the right flank.

There are weaknesses in this side. But whether Switzerland have the depth to explore them remain to be seen.

With Granit Xhaka and Valon Behrami Switzerland have the physical component to hold out against this talented Brazilian side. Furthermore, in defence Manuel Akanji (Borussia Dortmund), Ricardo Rodriguez (Milan) and Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus last season) all play in top European leagues.

Beyond that, there are question marks, however. Akanji’s centre-back partner Fabian Schär has failed to impress in his career so far, and Switzerland cannot afford a defensive lapse against this highly talented side.

Up front, there are also questions. Mario Gavranovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Haris Seferovic (Benfica) and Josip Drmic (Borussia Mönchengladbach) are talented strikers. But all three had problems in recent years. Gavranovic now plays in Croatia, Seferovic failed to impress in Germany and Drmic has just recovered from a long injury.

Hence, even though Brazil have their weaknesses, it is doubtful that Switzerland have the talent necessary to exploit them. As a result, Brazil will be massive favourites in the match, and anything but a decisive victory would constitute a significant surprise.

Brazil vs Switzerland – Players to look out for:

Neymar #10 – Brazil (Paris Saint-Germain)

Neymar is back. His injury was the main topic in Brazil’s media leading up to the tournament. The main question, of course, was whether he would be fit enough to play. But his performances in friendlies leading up to the tournament – he scored against both Croatia and Austria – suggesting that Neymar is ready to carry the Seleção through this tournament.

Neymar will be Brazil's key player. (IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Neymar will be Brazil’s key player. (IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Granit Xhaka #10 – Switzerland (Arsenal)

Granit Xhaka is the leader of this Switzerland team. The Arsenal central midfielder acts as a box-to-box midfielder for die Nati and will be both in charge of breaking down the opposing team’s attacks and also quickly transition Switzerland forward when winning possession.

Granit Xhaka will set the pace for Switzerland (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

Granit Xhaka will set the pace for Switzerland (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

Brazil vs Switzerland – Match Stats

  • This is the second time the two team meet at a World Cup. In 1950 the two teams drew 2-2.
  • Brazil have won the title on five occasions and are the only team to have ever defended the World Cup.
  • Brazil have not lost a group stage match in the last 12 games (W10 D2). Their last defeat came at the 1998 FIFA World Cup (2-1 against Norway).

Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Brazil vs Switzerland – 4-2

Brazil vs Switzerland – Lineups

Brazil:

Formation: 4-3-3

Alisson – Marcelo, Miranda, Silva, Danilo – Coutinho, Casemiro, Paulinho – Neymar, Gabriel Jesus, Willian

Head Coach: Tite

Switzerland:

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Bürki – Rodríguez, Akanji, Schär, Lichtsteiner – Behrami, Xhaka – Embolo, Freuler, Shaqiri – Gavranovic

Head Coach: Juan Osorio

Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada.  Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.

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