For 4 years, the whole of Brazil have waited to redeem themselves – salvage the pride of an entire nation from what was one of the most humiliating chapters in their footballing history - a 1-7 semi final defeat to Germany at the Maracana. Nothing more than a victory will suffice as Brazil set to begin their World Cup campaign against the experience of Switzerland thus.
Switzerland on the other hand have qualified to the round of 16 in the last 3 World Cups and would hope to do better this time around.
New Look Selecao
Brazil under Tite have re emerged as favourites for the World Cup. Neymar is joined by Roberto Firmino, Taison, Coutinho, Douglas Costa and Gabriel Jesus to ensure that goal scoring isn’t a problem this time around. Defensively, Tite has promoted Miranda and Marquinhos ahead of David Luiz and Thiago Silva with the former even failing to make the squad. Alisson, who had a superlative season with Roma helms the goalkeeping responsibilities adding further solidity to the defence. Tite’s philosophy of picking players based on their performance for the national team has reaped dividends, as players such as Fernandinho, Paulinho and Augusto have starred for Brazil in the recent past. With an organized defence, attacking firepower and a revitalised midfield, Brazil will look to make a strong start against Switzerland in a tricky group consisting of Serbia and Costa Rica.
Their opponents – nicknamed
Die Nati need to show more attacking prowess to reach the latter stages of the World Cup. Familiar faces such as wingbacks Lichtsteiner and Rodriguez, midfielders Xhaka, Dzemaili, Valon Behrami and Gelson Fernandes, alongside strikers Seferovic and Drmic. Vladimir Petkovic - the manager will need to infuse the team with attacking verve to ensure that Switzerland compete against stronger opposition. The emergence of Denis Zakaria and Manuel Ekanji gives energy to the team and Petkovic will hope that Embolo and Stephen Zuber give the requisite support to Shaqiri. Player to Watch Brazil: A crucial component of the new found Brazilian discipline is Casemiro. A player who was not in the reckoning in 2014 – he has become indispensable for club and country alike. For Real Madrid, Casemiro plays as the deepest lying midfielder, crunching into tackles and providing the platform for his more skilfull teammates to shine with the ball. For Brazil, Casemiro has to serve a similar function since his midfield partners, be it Fernandinho, Paulinho or Coutinho, lack the positional discipline and tactical awareness to maintain defensive shape. Casemiro will look to replicate the deeds of Dunga and Emerson as Brazil seek their 6th World Cup. Casemiro - Switzerland: in the past two seasons, Zuber has truly come into his own as an important and versatile squad player at Hoffenheim, who recently reached the top 4 in the recently concluded Bundesliga. Zuber is a decent finisher in the box, and extremely versatile, able to play in central midfield, left back and left wing. For Switzerland, Zuber could be tasked with functioning as a left winger who could attack Danilo, the newly incumbent right back from the outside, and also switch with Shaqiri constantly. Zuber could be the long needed support Shaqiri seeks to get Switzerland off to a dream start. Stephen Zuber- Predicted Lineups Brazil: 1-4-3-3
Alisson- Danilo, Marquinhos, Miranda, Marcelo- Paulinho, Casemiro, Fernandinho- Firmino, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar
Sommer- Lichtsteiner, Schar, Akanji, Rodriguez- Behrami, Zakaria, Xhaka- Shaqiri, Seferovic, Zuber
Aniket Mishra is a freelance writer who will cover the Fifa World Cup for CNBC-TV18.com