Brazil v Switzerland
After the nervousness of the first game, Brazil can guarantee qualification for the next phase. However, it will not be an easy task, as Switzerland tend to give any big team a game and are also on the hunt for three points which would confirm their progress to the Round of 16.
Brazil possess an unbelievable average of 2.9 goals scored for 2.3 expected goals (xG), playing as a team that creates a high volume of chances and ultimately converts more chances than would be expected.
The absence of Neymar and Danilo will change the team, and the replacements are not necessarily obvious with heavy competition for places throughout the squad. It is anticipated that Rodrygo and Eder Militao will come in, but there is no guarantee that either will be the players chosen, especially as both would be playing out of position if they came in as like-for-like replacements.
It was a case of job done in their opener at the Al Janoub Stadium on Thursday for Switzerland as they secured a narrow 1-0 victory over Cameroon. Die Nati struggled in the first half, controlling the possession but delivering a tepid performance which allowed the African side to create the better chances.
Thankfully for Murat Yakin’s team, Cameroon lacked a cutting edge and Switzerland were able to take the lead just after half time. Breel Embolo’s tap-in against the country of his birth was the catalyst for a better second-half display that could’ve yielded more goals if not for the last-ditch defending of the Cameroonians towards the end of the match.
This tenth meeting with Brazil, and second in just over four years, can be described as a bit of a free hit for Switzerland. Much like in Russia, the Brazilians triumphed over Serbia to give the Swiss some breathing room for now. A defeat would do only minor damage with second-place to be decided on the final day in a match against the Serbs. Any point gained would be a bonus ahead of that last game of the group.
Richarlison was man of the match against Serbia, with 2 goals scored from 3 attempts, including his spectacular scissor kick to put the game to bed.
He should arrive to this tie with plenty of confidence, and with Neymar out will be looked to as Brazil’s talisman to carry the team through a couple of potentially tricky group stage games until the PSG man can return to the side for the knockout stages.
The Tottenham striker averages over a goal every other game for the national side, at 0.66 goals per game, and is surely priced very generously at nearly 2/1 playing up front for possibly the best attacking team in this World Cup.
Despite failing to get on the scoresheet, Vinicius Junior’s importance against Serbia was plain to see. He attacked the space throughout and constantly kept the Serbian defence moving as he sought to drive towards the goal.
This is how he prefers to play and Tite has left him unchained in the national side, free to run with the ball and create a half-yard to shoot.
The Real Madrid winger averages 2 shots per 90 for his national side, managing 4 against Serbia, one of which was on target. If he is able to get a similar number of shots away, you would expect at least one to find the target and for this selection to land quite comfortably.
Nico Elvedi has cemented himself as the first-choice centre-back in the Swiss team in the four years since spending all four matches at the 2018 World Cup on the bench. He is a player that is pretty consistent but can also be erratic. An example of that is in the memorable 5-2 victory for Switzerland over Belgium in the UEFA Nations League in November 2018. Elvedi made an early mistake in the match but scored the goal to put Switzerland into a 3-2 lead later in the contest. He is a player that doesn’t hide and is always combative in the heart of the defence.
While those are good attributes to have, it does mean that Elvedi is never far from the action. He was booked in the opening match against Cameroon, meaning he has committed at least one foul in five out of the eight games he has started in 2022. Having sat out the 2-1 friendly loss to Switzerland in March, Elvedi has also committed a foul against two teams (Portugal and Spain) in the top ten of the World Rankings.
Given the quality of Brazil, Elvedi will be in the thick of it again and I don’t think he’ll be able to avoid a foul against this front line.
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