Sunday looks set to be another captivating day at Russia 2018 with world champions Germany and five-time winners Brazil in action…
Saturday saw four group-stage fixtures on what was a busy day at the World Cup, but Sunday promises to be just as entertaining as Group E gets underway, and that means our first glimpse of the Selecao.
Tite’s much-fancied side take on Switzerland this evening in Rostov, while earlier in the day Costa Rica face Serbia in Samara in the same group and in between the holders get their defence of the trophy underway against Mexico in Moscow.
Each morning during the tournament we’ll bring you an overview of what’s coming up that day. Here’s what you can expect on day two of the 2018 World Cup…
World Cup fixtures
World Cup venues
Who’s playing today?
Costa Rica v Serbia (Group E) – Samara, 1pm
Germany v Mexico (Group F) – Moscow, 4pm
Brazil v Switzerland (Group E) – Rostov (7pm)
1:51 Mesut Ozil will be pulling the strings for Germany at the World Cup; we take a look at some of his best moments in the Premier League last season What’s the deal?
The day’s proceedings kick-off at lunchtime when Costa Rica and Serbia clash at the Samara Arena – the Central Americans were the surprise outfit at the last World Cup in Brazil when they came within a penalty shootout from reaching the semi-finals. However, Mladen Krstajic’s team will provide them with a stern opposition in this Group E opener.
Sunday afternoon gives us our first glimpse of world champions Germany, who begin their Group F campaign with a tough-looking encounter against Mexico in the Russian capital. The world champions have not exactly been convincing of late and will need to be on their game against what will be well-prepared and obdurate opponents.
And finally, all eyes will be on Brazil this evening as they play Switzerland at the Rostov Arena. The South Americans are many people’s favourites for the tournament given their star-studded line-up, although they will find the Swiss – who pushed Portugal all the way in qualifying – no pushovers.
Costa Rica v Serbia
I have no doubt Serbia are going to win this. I watched Costa Rica lose 2-0 to England and then 4-1 to Belgium, while I like Serbia, who have had a couple of good results of late. They destroyed Bolivia, and I am backing them to beat Costa Rica. I just do not fancy Costa Rica.
PAUL PREDICTS: 0-3
Germany v Mexico
I would have half fancied Mexico, but then they lost 2-0 to Denmark in a recent friendly, which quite shocked me. I would have thought that this will be Germany’s hardest game, but despite them struggling to beat Saudi Arabia in their last friendly, I think they will win this. However, I do not expect them to win the World Cup, far from it.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1
Brazil v Switzerland
A walk in the park for Brazil, who I am backing to win this game 3-0. The Swiss were lucky against Spain recently when David de Gea gifted them their goal. And this Brazil team, I think they will walk the World Cup as they are head and shoulders above everyone else.
PAUL PREDICTS: 3-0
2:17 Watch some of Brazilian striker Roberto Firmino's best moments in the Premier League last season for Liverpool Three to watch
Nemanja Matic: The experienced holding midfielder is the man who makes the Serbs tick, always controlling the tempo of the game from his position sitting just in front of the back four.
Matic will be the man who starts his side’s attacks with his always accurate passing, allowing the likes of the more forward-thinking Dusan Tadic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to attack.
Meanwhile, the physically-imposing Man Utd midfielder is also a vital presence from set plays, both his own side’s and when defending the opposition’s too.
Toni Kroos: The silky-smooth midfielder may often go unnoticed in games, but do not get fooled by that anonymity as the 28-year-old is one of the first names down on the world champions’ team sheet.
Kroos’ calm presence in the centre of the park will be handy when they come up against opponents who are sure to be hard to break down at the Luzhniki this afternoon.
And with 82 caps to his name and a plethora of trophies, who better to control proceedings in his non-fussy way than the blond-haired Real Madrid star.
Neymar: Brazil’s poster boy will be desperate just to get on the field when they begin their World Cup against the Swiss in Rostov-on-Don on Sunday night.
The forward fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot while playing for PSG in February, putting his participation in Russia in doubt.
However, the 26-year-old has made a full recovery and is now set to lead the line as his country look to win their first World Cup since 2002 and he may need all his tricks to help break down a defensively-sound Switzerland.
2:12 Aleksandar Mitrovic will be leading the Serbian frontline at the World Cup. We take a look at his best moments for Fulham last season Also look out for…
Will Neuer start?
Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer insists he’s fit to play at the World Cup even though he’s missed most of the season with a hairline fracture in his left foot.
Neuer played just four games all season for Bayern Munich, but returned to action for Germany’s friendly against Austria earlier this month and played the full 90 minutes. In Germany’s final warm-up game against Saudi Arabia, Neuer and understudy Marc-Andre ter Stegen played 45 minutes each.
No one could accuse Mexico boss Juan Carlos Osorio of lacking passion during games.
A former conditioning coach at Manchester City, Osorio cuts a frantic figure on the touchline and his temper has occasionally gotten him into trouble. He was banned from last year’s Gold Cup after shouting at the fourth official when Mexico were not awarded a penalty during the third-place game against Portugal at the Confederations Cup.
England news conference
England are set to train at their base in Repino before flying to Volgograd ahead of their opening World Cup game against Tunisia on Monday.
Manager Gareth Southgate will be speaking to the media in the evening.
Belgium and Panama will also be holding their press conferences.
Stat of the day
Germany have won their opening game in each of the last seven World Cups, including scoring 20 goals in their last four openers (8 v Saudi Arabia in 2002, 4 v Costa Rica in 2006, 4 v Australia in 2010, 4 v Portugal in 2014).
On this day
USA held on for a 1-1 draw against Italy in an eventful group game at the 2006 World Cup.
For only the fourth time at a World Cup, three players were sent off, with Italy’s Daniele De Rossi dismissed for an elbow and USA duo Pablo Mastroeni and Eddie Pope also seeing red. Italy went ahead when Alberto Gilardino headed in from Andrea Pirlo’s free-kick, but USA levelled through Cristian Zaccardo’s own goal.