World Cup Group G preview

The 2022 World Cup kicks off on Sunday! We’re continuing our preview series with a look at Group G. Remember, if you haven’t yet, join our World Cup predictor challenge at Fotmob.

World Cup Previews

GROUP A | GROUP B | GROUP C | GROUP D | GROUP E | GROUP F |


Brazil 🇧🇷 (FIFA Ranking: 1)

How they got here

By being Brazil.

They are the only country to appear in every World Cup. While they may limp through qualifying at times, this cycle was anything but a struggle. Brazil cruised through the Conembol qualifiers finishing top of the region with an 11-3-0 record. 

The outlook

Like most Brazil teams, the attacking depth on this year’s team is absolutely unreal. Brazil can come at teams with waves and waves of attack. The first World Cup with five permitted substitutes should prove an absolute advantage. Tite can shift change up top bringing in fresh legs to terrorize overmatched defenses. The rule change tilts the odds even more in the Brazilians’ favor. 

Tite adopts a positional play set of tactics that look to dominate the ball and prevent chances on the other end. Brazil are always stronger in the midfield and attack than they are in the back. Sometimes, the best defense is a great offense. By controlling the ball and systematically breaking down their opponents, Brazil reduce the number of times they must call upon their defense to stand tall in the face of pressure. An aggressive high press fuels their quick recovery of possession never allowing an opponent to settle. 

Key players

Thiago Silva (Chelsea); Neymar (PSG); Vinícius Júnior (Real Madrid); Casimero (Manchester United)

Predicted XI (4-2-3-1)

Alisson; Alex Sandro, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Danilo; Casemiro, Fred; Vinícius Júnior, Neymar, Raphinha; Richarlison

Predicted group finish

1st.

Only twice have Brazil not advanced past the group stage (1930 and 1966). That makes for twelve straight trips into the Round of 16.

It’s a safe bet to assume they will march on once again. The more interesting question is whether they can win it all. Brazil have not made a final since their triumphant 2002 tournament. For the five-time World Cup champions, another crown feels overdue. Couple that with a roster primed for success, and it is easy to see why they’re the betting favorites to win it all. 

Odds to win World Cup (via BetMGM)

+400


Serbia 🇷🇸 (FIFA Ranking: 21)

How they got here

By scoring a 90th-minute winner in Lisbon.

Serbia and Portugal entered the final match of qualifying tied on points. But it was the Portuguese that held the goal differential tiebreaker. If Serbia wanted to automatically qualify and avoid the UEFA playoffs, they had to find a way to win in Portugal. With the score knotted 1-1, Aleksandar Mitrović found the end of a crossed ball at the back post and headed it in. The goal was a match and Group A winner for Serbia. 

The outlook

The Eagles, like a typical Serbian side, are a physical bunch that can bully the match and create scoring opportunities through set pieces. But there is more to them than just brute strength.

Serbia are an excellent pressing side as well. At their best, the press fuels scoring opportunities for Mitrović up top. While his goal-scoring numbers have been pedestrian when Fulham has been in the Premier League, he has been a nightmare for opposing defenses when Fulham has dropped down to the EFL Championship.

Last season, he shattered the Championship goal-scoring record by bagging 43 goals in 44 appearances. He may not be the type of striker that can create magic on his own, but he will absolutely bury the chances presented to him. 

Key players

Aleksandar Mitrović (Fulham); Dušan Tadić (Ajax); Filip Kostić (Juventus); Dušan Vlahović (Juventus)

Predicted XI (3-4-1-2)

Vanja Milinković-Savić; Strahinja Pavlović, Erhan Mašović, Miloš Veljković; Filip Kostić, Nemanja Gudelj, Saša Lukić, Andrija Živković; Dušan Tadić; Sergej Milinković-Savić, Aleksandar Mitrović

Predicted group finish

3rd.

Serbia have not advanced out of the group stage in three straight World Cups. I am betting on a repeat performance – not so much because of the strengths or weaknesses of Serbia, but due to a well-balanced Swiss team. 

Odds to win World Cup (via BetMGM)

+8000


Switzerland 🇨🇭 (FIFA Ranking: 15)

How they got here

By competently taking care of business….unlike Italy.

Switzerland topped their UEFA qualifying group which pushed Italy into the playoffs where they were famously sent packing by North Macedonia. In qualifying, Switzerland and Italy drew both legs of the matches between the two.

The difference came down to Italy’s shocking home draw with Bulgaria. Had Italy comfortably won that match, as the oddsmakers would have predicted, Switzerland would have had to tempt their fate in the playoffs. 

The outlook

Switzerland are a balanced side with experience across the midfield. In possession, Granit Xhaka provides the spark for the Swiss. The Arsenal man’s vision and passing ability progress the ball quickly and feed the attacking line.

Up top, Breel Embolo is primed to announce himself to a larger audience. He isn’t a burner, but Embolo has a combination of power and speed that allows him to receive a pass, spin a defender, and then start racing downhill on an opposing backline. Those same attributes make him effective at winning races to a ball played across the box for close-range finishes. He secured a €12-million Euro move to Monaco this summer where he has already managed to score six goals.

The match against Cameroon will be of particular importance to him. Embolo was born in Yaoundé, Cameroon but moved to Europe at five years old. 

Key players

Granit Xhaka (Arsenal); Breel Embolo (Monaco); Xherdan Shaqiri (Chicago Fire)

Predicted XI (4-2-3-1)

Yann Sommer; Ricardo Rodriguez, Nico Elvedi, Manuel Akanji, Silvan Widmer; Remo Freuler, Granit Xhaka; Ruben Vargas, Djibril Sow, Xherdan Shaqiri; Breel Embolo

Predicted group finish

2nd.

Switzerland know how to survive a group stage. The Swiss have advanced out of the group stage in four of their five World Cup appearances in the modern era. They’ve also managed to navigate themselves out of the group stage at successive European Championships. 

In this cycle, they have kept their place in League A of the Nations League. Couple that history of surviving groups with a well-balanced team, and I see no reason why they will not find a way through. 

Odds to win World Cup (via BetMGM)

+10000


Cameroon 🇨🇲 (FIFA Ranking: 43)

How they got here

By delivering the sucker punch of the century.

Cameroon and Algeria met in the CAF Third Round playoffs. Cameroon lost the opening leg at home to the Algerians – not a great way to start a playoff tie. In the return leg, Cameroon, as the visitors, took a one-goal lead to force extra time.

In the 118th minute and two minutes until penalty kicks, Algeria found the winning goal. The home crowd erupted and the players drug out a several minutes-long celebration. Algeria was headed back to the World Cup………or so they thought.

At 120+4’ minute, Cameroon flicked a header into the box and punched in the game-winning goal. The sucker punch left the Algerians stunned as they collapsed to the ground in disbelief. 

The outlook

The Indomitable Lions have the unenviable task of pivoting from a qualifying cycle where they often served as Goliath to a World Cup where they assume the role of David.

In possession, it won’t change too much. Cameroon look to get vertical quickly and pump balls into the likes of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.

Defensively is where things will change. In qualifying, Cameroon harrassed the smaller countries of African qualifying into giving away possession with a high press. Against this World Cup group, Cameroon will likely sit much deeper, invite pressure, and look to destroy teams on the counter.

Against Brazil, it should lead to plenty of one versus one battles between MLS cult hero Nouhou and some of the best attacking talents in the world.

Key players

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (Bayern Munich); André-Frank Zambo Anguissa (Napoli); Karl Toko Ekambi (Lyon)

Predicted XI (4-4-2)

André Onana; Nouhou Tolo, Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui, Jean-Charles Castelletto, Collins Fai; Karl Toko Ekambi, André-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Samuel Gouet, Martin Hongla; Vincent Aboubakar, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting

Predicted group finish

4th.

The problem for Cameroon is that Switzerland and Serbia will be up for the challenge posed by Choupo-Moting and others. They play an equally rugged and physical style. Both of those matches could end up as fascinating battles of strength on strength, especially the Serbia match.

I actually think Cameroon could end up causing a lot of problems for Brazil, especially if they steal an early goal. However, Brazil is just too talented to predict anything other than a loss for Cameroon. 

Odds to win World Cup (via BetMGM)

+25000


Author: Chris IveyChris is a senior writer covering Nashville SC. His work includes his "Three Thoughts" piece after every Nashville match that highlights the important storylines and incorporates key video clips from the match. Chris' other articles often navigate the complexity of roster building around the myriad of MLS roster rules. Outside of Broadway Sports Media, Chris resides in Knoxville and is a licensed attorney serving as in-house counsel for a large insurance company. Beyond NSC, he is always willing to discuss Tennessee football and basketball, Manchester United, Coventry City, and USMNT. Follow Chris on Mastodon

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