Switzerland v Cameroon
Time: 11am GMT
Location: Al Janoub Stadium
FIFA Ranking: 15 vs 43
Switzerland and Cameroon will kick off Group-G on Thursday at Al Janoub Stadium. Both sides know a loss might spell the end of the World Cup campaign, as it is unlikely either side can get a result against tournament favorite Brazil.
Switzerland comes into this tournament in imperious form, having knocked out heavyweight Italy during qualification. Switzerland had one of the best defensive records during the qualifiers, conceding just two goals in eight matches. The Swiss are eager to rewrite their record of bad outings that has seen them fail to advance to the quarterfinals since 1954.
Switzerland is expected to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Widmar, Akanji, Schar, and Rodriguez in defense. There are question marks around Switzerland’s goalkeeping position due to an injury to first-choice Yan Sommer that has seen him make just one appearance since October. His usual replacement Yvon Mvogo is out of the tournament with an injury.
Appearing for the eighth time, Cameroon is eager to break a run of seven consecutive World Cup match losses. Recent form of just one win in five matches doesn’t inspire confidence. However, the “Indomitable Lions” hope to build on a third-place finish at the last Africa Cup of Nations.
Rigobert Song should set up his team in a 4-3-3 formation, with the trio of Ekambi, Mbuemo, and Choupo-Moting set to make up the front three. Napoli midfielder Zambo Anguissa is recovering from a knock, but he should recover in time to start.
Prediction: 1 - 0
Serbia v Brazil
Time: 8pm GMT
Location: Lusail Stadium
FIFA Ranking: 21 vs 1
In the last match of the day (after the Group-H matches), Serbia takes on world #1 Brazil in what could be the toughest group-stage match of the tournament (21st + 1st = 22nd, less than any other match by half). However, Serbia need not fear, boasting an enviable array of attacking talent.
Serbia’s creativity revolves around talisman and captain Dusan Tadic. He is the link from midfield to attack, so he will be crucial to unlocking the Selacao’s disciplined defense. There are, however, worries about in-form striker Alexandre Mitrovic whose match sharpness may have been dulled by an injury that forced him to miss Fulham’s last two games before the break. Will he be fit enough to start after a month on the sidelines?
Serbia should line up in a 3-4-3 formation, which becomes a 5-1-3 without the ball.
Tournament favorite and football’s most successful nation Brazil comes into the tournament in scorching form, having won six straight games in all competitions. The Selecao’s group-topping streak since 1982 makes Brazil the clear favorite to finish first in tricky Group-G.
Neymar is the key in attack, possessing the trickery and vision to unlock opposition defenses. Brazil’s talisman has scored 75 goals in just 121 appearances for the Selecao. Despite reports of knocks for Alex Telles and Bruno Guimaraes, Tite is should have a full squad at his disposal for this clash.
Tite should line up in a 4-3-3 formation with Richarlison expected to start ahead of Gabriel Jesus upfront. Richarlison, with six goals, was outscored only by Neymar (8) during World Cup qualifiers. While the fullback position is a bit unpredictable, former club teammates Thiago Silva and Marquinhos are expected to start in the center of defense.
Prediction: 1 - 3
Uruguay v South Korea
Time: 2pm GMT
Location: Education City Stadium
FIFA Ranking: 14 vs 28
Will Son be fit enough to start? Much of the media talk has been around whether South Korea will be able to start star man Son. Coach Paulo Bento has refused to let the cat out of the bag, but Son has been seen in training this week, wearing a protective mask to cover his fractured eye socket
Bento tends to set up his team in a flat 4-3-3 formation, with Yoon Jong-gyu partnering Kim Min-jae in the center of defense. If Son is unavailable, attack will focus on Wolves’ Hwang Hee-chan and Olympiacos’ Hwang Ui-jo, both of whom have struggled for goals this season.
Uruguay is eager to start the campaign with a win, wanting to advance from the group stage for the fourth consecutive World Cup. The Uruguayans boast an array of stars all over the pitch that should be enough to see off South Korea and advance to the knockouts. They do not want to finish second, as that team from this group will likely face Brazil in the next round :o
Uruguay should start in a 4-3-3 formation with Suarez, Pellistri, and Nunez occupying the attacking positions. Like South Korea, Uruguay has injury issues, Araujo and Edinson Cavani both doubtful.
Prediction: 2 - 0
Portugal v Ghana
Time: 5pm GMT
Location: Stadium 974
FIFA Ranking: 9 vs 61
Is it going to be the Ronaldo show? Ronaldo was on target last time these two nations met; a 2014 World Cup match that Portugal won 2-1. This year, Portugal comfortably saw off Ghana’s West African neighbor Nigeria 4-nil in their only warm-up match for the Qatar World Cup.
While many recent headlines concerning the Portugal team have been about Ronaldo’s controversial interview with Piers Morgan and his immediate departure from Man United, the Seleção das Quinas will seek to redirect the focus to football by putting stamp on this match that will signal readiness to go all the way. A win here will also put Portugal in position to avoid Brazil in the Round of 16.
The Black Stars of Ghana come into this match in impressive form, having won seven of their last eight matches. They may be further buoyed by the fact that Portugal has failed to win the opening match in the last three World Cups.
Despite fielding the youngest squad at the World Cup, Ghana has experienced hands such as Partey, Amartey, and the Ayew brothers, who will all provide leadership on the field. Ghana has failed to advance past the group stage only once in three World Cup campaigns.
Both teams line up in a 4-3-3 formation, with Rafeal Leao and Bernado Silva providing support for Ronaldo up top for Portugal while Jordan Ayew and Kudus do the same for Williams of Ghana.
Prediction: 3 - 1
What are your predictions for World Cup calendar day 5? Do you fancy any upsets? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below!