Brazil, Costa Rica, Serbia, Switzerland
7-1. Brazil’s chances at winning the World Cup in front of their own fans four years ago were blown out of the water by a rampant German side, who of course went on to win the competition. One could argue that the pressures associated with home-field advantage may have played a part and perhaps weighed too heavily on the minds of the Brazilians, but that certainly can’t be the case this time. Far from home, the Selecao will look to move on from those memories and have a world class squad to aid in that task. Midfielders Willian and Philippe Coutinho will look to torture defenses with their dangerous runs. Factor in a maturing Neymar and we may just see some joga bonito that has captivated audiences for decades. As for the Ticos, I do not see the Central American side replicating their run from four years ago when they made it as far as the quarterfinals. While their 2014 group was also tough, I’d be shocked to see them survive this one. Switzerland and Serbia both possess great footballers, and will battle it out for runners-up in the group. Swiss player Xherdan Shaqiri has a bag of tricks in him and a quality goal here and there (including an absolute peach in Euro 2016). However, Serbia’s midfield is scary. Manchester United player Nemanja Matic will look to turn defense to attack by feeding talented teammates Adam Llajic, Dusan Tadic, and Andrija Zivkovic. Brazil 1st and Serbia 2nd.
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