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We’ve waited 4 long years to watch team USA compete in the World Cup… and we’re going to have to wait at least 4 more. The tournament we’ve all been waiting for kicks off this Thursday in Russia, but what can we expect from Group E?
Brazil is a legitimate contender to win the whole thing, and they are a runaway favorite to win this group. They have world-renowned stars, and it will be hard for any other team in the group to take that top spot from them, barring a horrific injury or a flat-out choke job. Led by guys like Neymar, Marcelo, Coutinho, and Gabriel Jesus, this group is theirs for the taking.
Odds to win the group: -450
Opening Match: Sunday, June 17th at 1:00 pm (central time) against Brazil.
This Swiss side is an interesting team, and my dark horse pick to contend in this year’s World Cup. They made it out of the group stage in 2014, and I think it’s likely they do it again this year. They have a ball dominant midfielder in Xherdan Shaqiri, and a very good creator in Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka; and those two should carry the load for this Switzerland team, and ultimately carry them on to the knockout stage.
Odds to win the group: +700
Opening match: Sunday, June 17th at 1:00 pm (central time) against Brazil
Serbia has looked good recently, topping their group in UEFA qualifying and making it to the World Cup for the first time since 2010. They have an incredible talented midfield, but the issue is no one knows how they’re going to play. On paper, they stack up well with the mid-tier teams in the tournament and should fight for a spot in the knockout stage. However, after their previous manager refused to call up their young star Sergei Milinkovic-Savic and was fired after qualifying for the World Cup. Milinkovic-Savic has never played with his midfield mates, and so we don’t really know how well they will gel together on the field. Their players to watch are the aformentioned Segei Milinkovic-Savic, Nemanja Matic, and Dusan Tadic, all of whom are midfielders who’ve never played together. Oh, and the manager, Mladen Krstajic has yet to decide on a midfield structure. We are 2 days away from the first games, people.
Odds to win the group: +800
Opening match: Sunday, June 17th at 7:00 am (central time) against Costa Rica
So, let’s talk about 2014 for a minute. Costa Rica was expected to finish dead last in their group (as they are this year), and instead they WON the group and ended up making it to the quarter finals where they lost to the Netherlands in a shoot out. Now, I’d be very surprised to see them make another run like this in 2018, but you can’t just count them out, despite what the odds say. Midfielder Bryan Ruiz and goalkeeper Keylor Navas are the leaders of this squad, and the team will only go as far as those two take them. They’re bringing a ton of the same players that played in the 2014 World Cup, in fact, they have the littlest turnover of any team in the tourney. 9 of 11 players that started their last WC match could start in the opener. That’s insane. But, that’s also part of their problem. They are an old team, they have very little attacking talent, and they rely heavily on their defense. I just don’t see them repeating their Cinderella run.
Odds to win the group: +2000
Opening match: Sunday, June 17th at 7:00 am (central time) against Serbia
Make sure you follow me on twitter, @Tcalvin_PSF where I will be live tweeting as many of these games as possible. Also, be sure to check out the rest of our World Cup Group Primer pieces here at prosportsfandom.com!