Brazil is the most successful national football team in international competition, winning the FIFA World Cup five times: 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002 .
Brazil also has the best overall performance in World Cup history in both proportional and absolute terms with a record of 70 victories in 104 matches played, 119 goal difference, 227 points, and only 17 losses.
Brazil is the only national team to have played in all World Cup editions without any absence nor need for playoffs. Brazil is the only national team to have won the World Cup on four different continents: once in Europe ( 1958 Sweden ), once in South America ( 1962 Chile ), twice in North America ( 1970 Mexico and 1994 United States ) and once in Asia ( 2002 Korea/Japan ).
They also share with Spain a record of 35 consecutive international matches undefeated.
ROAD TO RUSSIA: Brazil won 12, drew 5 and lost only one of their 18 games during the CONMEBOL round of qualifiers; scoring 41 goals in the process and conceding just 11.
THEIR CHANCES: Just like in previous tournaments, Brazil will be serious contenders in Russia. You can trust them to win this group.
STARS TO WATCH: The likes of Phillipe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Ederson and Marcelo would certainly lead the Samba boys but the most expensive footballer in the world – Neymar would have the platform to prove that he has come of age.
KEY MAN: Neymar.
Since moving from Barcelona to PSG on a World record fee, Neymar has continued to prove that he is a leader. If he stays fit throughout the tournament, he can lead the Selecao all the way to the finals.
Switzerland will be appearing in the finals of the World Cup for the 11th time next year.
Their first was at the second finals in 1934 where they finished in seventh position.
The best achievements of Switzerland were reaching the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 1934 , 1938 and 1954.
ROAD TO RUSSIA: It looked as if Switzerland was going to win UEFA Group B, during the qualifiers, until that 2-0 defeat in Portugal on October 10th 2017. However, that was the only game Switzerland lost as they came second in a group that also had Hungary, Faroe Islands, Latvia and Andorra. Schweizer Nati scored 23 goals, during their 9-game winning streak, which secured them a place in the playoffs against Northern Ireland. A game they would go on to win 1-0 on aggregate.
THEIR CHANCES: Switzerland lost (once) only to the reigning European champions – Portugal during the qualifiers. They are are a very strong unit and have a good enough squad to get them as far as the quarter finals.
STARS TO WATCH: Granit Xhaka, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Haris Seferović, Xherdan Shaqiri.
KEY MAN: HARIS SEFEROVIC.
Benfica striker, Seferovic was Switzerland’s highest goal scorer with four goals during the qualifiers. He will be a very important player for Schweizer Nati in Russia.
Costa Rica is the only national team in Central America to have played in four FIFA World Cup editions. Les Ticos made their debut in the 1990 finals in Italy. They qualified for the knockout stage after finishing second in their group during the below Brazil. They also managed to qualify for the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups. In 2014. Costa Rica made their best performance by finishing first in a group that had three former World Cup champions: Uruguay, Italy, and England. Their fairytale continued as they defeated Greece 5–3 via a penalty shootout after a 1–1 draw in the round of 16. Reaching the quarterfinals for their very first time, the “Ticos” were defeated by the Netherlands also in a penalty shootout (3–4) after a scoreless draw.
ROAD TO RUSSIA: Costa Rica finished second to Mexico in CONCACAF Group A, that also had Panama, Honduras, United States and Trinidad and Tobago. The Ticos won 6 of their qualifiers, with 1 loss and 3 draws. Except their last game against Panama on October 10th, Costa Rica never lost in any of the games they scored.
THEIR CHANCES: Costa Rica pulled a major surprise in Brazil 2014, by winning a very tough group. But are they good enough this time around?
They can qualify from this group though, a lot of work is required.
STARS TO WATCH: Joel Campbell, Keylor Navas, Marco Ureña, Johan Venegas.
KEY PLAYER: KEYLOR NAVAS;
The Real Madrid goalkeeper’s exploits were the major reason why Costa Rica reached quarter finals in the last World Cup. And just as he has been phenomenal for Los Blancos since joining in the summer of 2014, he will be at the heart of everything for Les Ticos in Russia.
Russia 2018, will be Serbia’s 12th World Cup finals appearance. They have previously featured as Yugoslavia and in 2006, featured as Serbia and Montenegro. Serbia’s first appearance in the World stage as an independent nation was in South Africa 2010 World Cup, where they failed to make it past a group that had Australia, Germany and Ghana. Meanwhile, Serbia did not qualify for the last World Cup in Brazil.
ROAD TO RUSSIA: Serbia were drawn with Euro 2016 semi-finalists Wales, Austria, Ireland, Georgia and Moldova in Group D. They ended their qualifiers with 6 wins, 3 draws and 1 loss. They scored 20 times and conceded half the goals they scored.
THEIR CHANCES: This Serbian team will certainly entertain in Russia. They play an expansive football and can score a lot of goals. Serbia will definitely cause teams problems in the showpiece; and are good enough to get to the quarter finals.
STARS TO WATCH: Branislav Ivanovic, Aleksander Kolarov, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Dušan Tadic.
KEY PLAYER: Aleksander Mitrovic; the experiences of Ivanovic and Kolarov will be essential in the finals, but Mitrovic’s goals will be crucial. The Newcastle striker’s 6 goals during the qualifiers were so important for the Blues. Watch out for Mitrovic!