Much like Group D in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Group G has an air of familiarity about it. The nations competing in this group are Brazil, Cameroon, Serbia, and Switzerland. Sound familiar? It should - because four years ago in Russia, three of the four nations (Brazil, Serbia, and Switzerland) were grouped together as well (in 2018 they all landed in Group E). Cameroon are the party crashers this time around, replacing Costa Rica in this year's version.
Four years ago, likely to nobody's surprise, Brazil finished at the top of the group, while Switzerland managed to advance as well by virtue of finishing second. Will things play out the same way, or will the passage of time, (as well as the introduction of a new nation to the mix) have an unexpected impact as the tournament unfolds? Let's have a closer look at each squad as we gear up for the kickoff of the tournament.
Brazil (No. 1 in FIFA World Rankings)
Superlatives abound when discussing Brazil with regard to World Cup history. They're the only nation to have never missed out on a Finals since. They've won the title five times, and there is never a shortage of top notch players in their squad. If you look around the top club teams in virtually every domestic league around the world, you'll likely find a Brazilian footballer or two. The 2022 team continues the tradition. Of course, given their rich history, there is no shortage of pressure associated with representing the most storied nation in the history of the competition. Whether as their manager (Tite), a veteran who was a surprise addition to the roster (Dani Alves), or a young superstar in the making (insert any number of names into this category), when you don the jersey of the Seleção, the spotlight will most assuredly burn bright.
Unlike four years ago, when the Seleção stumbled their way into the tournament in Russia. They almost didn't qualify at all, and injuries to key players like Neymar, Renato Augusto, and Dani Alves didn't help. This time around, they're firing on all cylinders. They've won seven straight heading into the tournament. Most of their players are in fine form for their respective clubs around the world. Attacking options are abundant while their back line looks more stalwart than it has in quite some time. They also boast some of the top goalkeepers in the world in Liverpool's Allison and Manchester City's Ederson. Perhaps their biggest question mark at the moment is recent history. They haven't hoisted the trophy in 20 years. Should they fail to win it all this time around it will match their longest drought between titles ever. Still - for all of that pressure, it's widely expected that Brazil will finish at the top of the group to advance.
Cameroon (No. 43 in FIFA World Rankings)
While Brazil sit atop the rankings, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon are one of the lowest ranked teams in the field in Qatar. Only four nations (Ecuador, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Ghana) are currently ranked lower than Cameroon. Things have been a bit bumpy of late around this squad given that their coach, Rigobert Song, is fairly new to the job. He played in four World Cups for Cameroon, but has only recently taken over as manager. He replaced Antonio Conceicao back in February, and has only gotten six matches under his belt since taking charge. It didn't help that his performance at the press conference announcing the squad members didn't go over well with the national media. Still, for all the drama currently surrounding the team, they come into the tournament with some pedigree.
This will be their eighth World Cup Final, having famously gotten as far as the Quarterfinals in Italy in 1990. They recently had a third place showing at the African Cup of Nations to help build momentum. The most recognizable names on the roster include goalkeeper Andre Onana (who plays in Serie A for Inter), Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (of Bundesliga giant Bayern Munich), and Bryan Mbeumo (striker for Brentford in the English Premier League). Their recent history in this tournament hasn't been kind, having not advanced from the group stage since their magical run in 1990. In fact, they've only won one of their group stage matches (out of 15) in their previous five tournament appearances. Squad depth may prove to be their biggest challenge, particularly along the back line. It will prove a difficult task to advance, but the Indomitable Lions will feel confident that they can compete with Switzerland and Serbia for that second spot out of the group stage.
Serbia (No. 21 in FIFA World Rankings)
If there were a single squad that could possibly wear the "Dark Horse" badge in this tournament field, Serbia may fit the bill. They qualified for Qatar 2022 by winning their group, going undefeated with a record of six wins and two losses in a group that included the likes of Ireland and Portugal. This will be their third appearance at the Finals in the last four, having only missed out in 2014 in Brazil. Like Cameroon, they also have a manager (Dragan Stojkovi?) with a history as a player at the top levels. Since he took the helm in March of last year Serbia have only lost three of 20 matches they've played. Their attacking options are among the strongest in the field. Aleksandar Mitrovic was named to the squad, though he's currently struggling with an ankle injury. He's joined by 22-year old Du?an Vlahovi?, who stars for Juventus, as well as veteran Du?an Tadi?, who captains Ajax. He'll look to be the provider for the potent attack up top.
Serbia will look to improve upon their showing from 2018, where they finished third in the group, managing one victory while losing to both Brazil and Switzerland. The attack will need to be as lethal as they were in the run up to the tournament (they led their qualifying group with 18 goals scored) while also managing to stand strong at the back. If they can execute at all three levels on the pitch, they may punch their ticket to the knockout stages in Qatar.
Switzerland (No. 15 in FIFA World Rankings)
Much like Serbia, Switzerland finished top of their group in qualifying, and they did so in impressive fashion, also going undefeated. There are some familiar names among the squad named by manager Murat Yakin, chiefly Arsenal's Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri of the Chicago Fire in MLS. The Swiss don't often get much "buzz" when the major tournaments roll around, but they have posted some impressive results lately. They've made a habit of advancement, progressing out of the group stage in five of their last six tournaments. Perhaps most notable was their ousting of defending World Cup Champions France during Euro 2020.
Recent results have been mixed. They started 2022 by going five matches without a victory. However they seem to have recovered - winning their last three, defeating powerhouses like Portugal and Spain. They have numerous attacking options to look to for goals, and whoever leads the lines will need to produce if Switzerland want to advance. Their rear guard will also need to continue their run of form in order to keep opponents off the scoreboard. The likes of Manuel Akanji, Nico Elvedi, and Fabian Schar will hope to make life easier for goalkeeper Yann Sommer between the sticks. On the whole, if Switzerland can continue to go about their business, they'll be a force to be reckoned with. In Russia in 2018, they managed to secure a point through a draw with Brazil, no easy task. If they can repeat or improve upon that result this time around, it will only help boost their confidence in their ability to advance from this difficult group.
Choosing Brazil to finish at the top of Group G is the closest thing to a "no-brainer" one can think of. With their long and storied history, and given their obvious improvement since Russia, there's a reason they're considered to be the favorite. I don't see any reason they won't advance to face whoever comes out of Group H in the knockout rounds. Beyond that, things get much more complicated. In fact, the remaining teams are so closely matched that some have argued that Group G could indeed be considered the "Group of Death" in Qatar (for whatever that may be worth). On any given day, any of the other three nations could emerge victorious. There are no "easy matches" in this group. I ultimately think the final matchday, which will see Serbia and Switzerland face off, will ultimately determine who advances along with Brazil. In the end, I'm going to lean toward Serbia to accumulate enough points to secure that second spot in the knockout stages. Cameroon can definitely make some noise in the group, but in the end I think they'll finish at the bottom of the standings. Group G's round-robin matches begin on Thursday, November 24th when Brazil meets Serbia at Lusail Stadium and Switzerland faces Cameroon at Al Wakrah Sports Club in Al Wakrah.
Other World Cup Groups
- Group A: Qatar, Netherlands, Ecuador, Senegal
- Group B: England, USA, Wales, Iran
- Group C: Argentina, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia
- Group D: France, Australia, Denmark, Tunisia
- Group E: Spain, Costa Rica, Germany, Japan
- Group F: Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia
- Group H: Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea
World Cup Schedule
- Group Stage: Nov. 20-Dec. 2
- Round of 16: Dec. 3-6
- Quarterfinals: Dec. 9-10 at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Lusail Iconic Stadium in Lusail, Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor.
- Semifinals: Dec. 13-14, with matches held at Lusail Iconic Stadium in Lusail and Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor.
- Third-place Playoff: Dec. 17 at Khalifa International Stadium in Al Rayyan.
- World Cup Final: Dec. 18 at Lusail Iconic Stadium in Lusail.
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