This preview is the fifth in our World Cup preview series, designed to provide a refreshing breath of Minnesotan air in an otherwise murky swamp of content. To encapsulate that oh-so-true concept of Minnesota nice, we’re looking for the most likeable teams in Russia 2018. To check out looks at other groups, head to our preview hub: https://www.epluribusloonum.com/2018/6/11/17449884/a-2018-world-cup-preview-but-minnesota-style-russia
1. Costa Rica
The Ticos are fun, so, so fun. They took the world by storm at the 2014 World Cup, making a run to the quarter-finals. Costa Rica is even more experienced now, though they may have a harder go at it in 2018. One of the fun parts of the team is how MLS-heavy the roster is, and there are two Minnesota United players present. Captain Francisco Calvo and Johan Venegas, who is on loan to Costa Rican club Saprissa, are both expected to start or be regular inclusions. We’re all aboard the #VamosTicos bandwagon.
After the 2014 World Cup, you almost feel bad for Brazil. Everyone anticipated a triumph on home soil, but the tournament ended with Neymar injured, a 7-1 semifinal loss to Germany, and a fourth place finish. Perhaps the routine of the qualification process will help Brazil to settle. They were dominant in South American qualifying and are at 9/2 odds to win the World Cup. Expect the soccer to be fast and fun.
Normally the homeland of Jerome Thiesson would make it out of the Group Stage, but alas, Brazil has more to like this year. The Swiss aren’t a high profile team—even though many of Switzerland’s players appear regularly for some solid teams in Germany, Italy, and Poland. The Swiss will also be handed the role of the villain in Group E: as Costa Rica hopes to replicate success and Brazil seeks redemption, there may not be room for Switzerland.
Ever since the infamous events of the 1910s, Serbia’s gotten something of a bad rap. They haven’t been to a World Cup since 2010, their first as an independent country. There aren’t many big names on the roster. and there are some doubts over the suitability of young head coach Mladen Krstajic. A team prone to collapses in the spotlight won’t be looking to good when faced with plenty of pressure.