It once again looks like another all-time classic World Cup tournament with shocks and upsets across the group stage games as teams fight for their survival in such a difficult challenge. Brazil’s World Cup opener against Serbia proved that the Selecao remain the side to beat in many people’s minds, and sang in attack throughout the final stages, although their somewhat laboured first-half performance would have given hope to the other contenders in Qatar.
However, difficulties persist as usual. Neymar and Danilo have been out from the group stages due to injuries to their ankles. Despite being considerably undermanned for their second group encounter, Brazil’s opponents Switzerland should have hope. They are a team with the potential to be the best in their nation’s history, they are experienced veterans at this level who drew 1-1 with Brazil four years ago.
When & Where?
Date: 28 November 2022.
Venue: Stadium 974.
Time: 16:00 GMT.
Neymar will miss the remainder of the group stage due to an ankle injury against Serbia. Granted that the PSG star is given a free role for his country, manager Tite may need to make some tactical changes without him, which might open the door for midfielders like Fred to enter the game. Due to a similar injury, right-back Danilo will also miss the remainder of the group stage, Eder Militao of Real Madrid is probably the player who will occupy the right side of the defence with the greatest likelihood.
There were no significant surprises in Switzerland’s lineup, and they are not likely to make many changes for this match.
Brazil is the top-ranked team in the world going into the tournament in Qatar, and for good reason — they look virtually unbeatable. Tite has masses of attacking stars at his disposal, but it is arguably more difficult than it appears to combine all of that individual brilliance into a reliable high-performing assault. In a 4-2-3-1 formation, Brazil has looked their finest, with Richarlison manning the No. 9 position and Neymar operating freely as the No. 10 flanked by Lucas Pacqueta (on the left) and Raphinha (on the right). Additionally available to Tite in those roles are Gabriel Jesus, Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo, and Gabriel Martinelli.
When attacking, that 4-2-3-1 frequently changes to a 4-2-4 with Neymar positioned next to Richarlison. The wingers can set up high and wide because the full-backs play narrow but deep. For the attacking midfielder, this helps to pin the opposing defence and opens space between the lines. Brazil can overcome a problem by not attacking heavily against a low block, whereas typically high-possession teams find it difficult to pierce low blocks. They made the fewest crosses of any team during their Qatar 2022 qualifying round. To play through, around, or over the opponent, Tite’s team keeps possession in the middle third of the field.
The formation used by Switzerland is now either a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3. Switzerland does not possess a lot of the ball, especially when playing a powerful opponent. Any victory in this event will be built on a strong defensive foundation. With just two goals allowed, they had the finest defence of any European team to qualify for Qatar, although statistics reveal that their opponents were creating scoring chances.
They are excellent at switching between a mid-block formation, which places their players in the middle third of the field, and a high press when they do not have the ball. They were well-equipped to defend in a variety of methods, as seen by their fifth-place finish in counter-pressures per game in the Euros the previous year. In their matchup with Cameroon, they displayed this adaptability by giving the centre-backs control and choosing horizontal and vertical compactness in the midfield third.
Premier League Players to look out for
Whilst Richarlison may not be an out-and-out starter for his club, he has certainly been the main man for his country, proving his worth after a brilliant performance against Serbia that saw Richarlison score two on the biggest stage for Brazil. There is always a chance that we may see Richarlison have a far greater role for Tottenham when the tournament is over, particularly if he flies back with a winner’s medal.
Often over shined by masters of the midfield, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, for most of his career, Casemiro is showcasing to the world just how significant he can be in midfield. The Brazilian can often be just as important progressing the ball or producing a line-breaking pass just as crucially as he can win the ball back – his performance against Serbia highlighted his ability on the ball, almost appearing like an attacking midfielder.
Unsurprisingly, Granit Xhaka features on this list, following a brilliant club campaign for Arsenal in the league this season. Xhaka has usually been a very reliable player for Switzerland, offering experience, leadership, a great passing range, and being a threat from long-range and set pieces. There is no doubt that he will be the beating heart of the Swiss midfield and will be crucial to assisting his country at this year’s World Cup.
Since joining Manchester City in the summer transfer window, Akanji has proven to be a solid signing for the club, bolstering the side with a highly intelligent defender that reads the game effortlessly. Akanji’s passing ability, combined with his presence in defence, explains why he is the key man for Switzerland in the defence that holds the team together.
Brazil predicted lineup vs Switzerland: Alisson, Militao, Marquinhos, Silva, Sandro, Fred, Casemiro, Raphinha, Paqueta, Vinicius Jr, Richarlison.
Switzerland predicted lineup vs Brazil: Sommer, Widmer, Akanji, Elvedi, Rodriguez, Freuler, Xhaka, Shaqiri, Sow, Vargas, Embolo.