/ 18 November 2022

2022 World Cup: What’s the deal in group G?

Let's look at each team to determine which nation might replace France as world champions before the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 starts.

The Fifa World Cup brings the possibility of upsets, unforeseeable circumstances and the teeth-grinding vexation of controversy. It also brings contenders to a table that has often allowed only European and South American nations as diners. Before the competition begins, the Mail & Guardian will be looking at each group to determine which nation might replace France as world champions. Group G includes Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon. 


What’s their deal?

Brazil enter the tournament as favourites and, for the first time since 2006, it looks like a super team once again. The depth of their squad is also unmatched, with world class cover provided for players in each position. 

Brazil’s form going into the World Cup is also excellent. Since losing to Argentina in the 2021 Copa America final, they are unbeaten. Brazil are also a free scoring side; they have netted 38 times in their last 16 international matches. They don’t rely on one player to get goals for them, because the front four are always setting each other up. 

The threat with this Brazil side comes from all areas of the pitch. On the right, they are blessed with Raphinha, Rodrygo or Antony and on the left, they have Vinicius Jr or Gabriel Martinelli. Neymar is probably going to play just behind Arsenal striker Gabriel Jesus down the middle and that is scary on its own. 

It’s tough to find a weakness in this squad, but if we are to be really critical, Brazil’s full-backs could be the only hole that sinks this ship. Alex Telles and Danilo have been poor for their clubs over the past season and Dani Alves is past his prime. It’s no wonder head coach Tite moves Eder Militao to play at right back sometimes. 

Nevertheless, Brazil should cruise through this group and be present at the later stages of the tournament. 

Star player

Neymar has started this season with fury. He looks determined and he seems to always turn it up a notch when he dons the Brazil shirt. 

He has scored 11 goals and assisted nine times for PSG in Ligue 1 this season. The Brazilian star might also feel he needs to push himself to the limit to help his country achieve their sixth World Cup, because this one may be his last. 

With the side that Brazil has, he should thrive, because, for once, the nation won’t be his to carry alone.


What’s their deal?

Another side that starts with three centre-backs and likes to push their wing-backs forward to assist the front line, Serbia enter this World Cup unbeaten in their last five international games. 

But they were in a group with Brazil and Switzerland back in 2018 and lost to both nations. The Serbian team does have a more technical side to it this time around. With Dusan Tadic forming into a superb playmaker in the past four years, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic establishing himself as a classy box-to-box midfielder and three good strikers in Aleksandar Mitrovic, Luka Jovic and Dusan Vlahovic, the Serbians can hurt any team. 

They might struggle on the defence if they are not careful. They probably wish they had Nemanja Vidic playing in this generation, but it is also probably the reason they play three centre-backs. 

The Serbian team will have to be at their best when they play Brazil in their group G opener or they might find themselves playing catch-up early.

Star player

Vlahovic will be Serbia’s source of goals. He burst onto the scene last season with Fiorentina and quickly moved to Italian giants Juventus. 

This season, the striker hasn’t been as explosive but, to be fair, Juventus have been struggling. Vlahovic will be feasting if Tadic and Milinkovic-Savic service him well enough. 


What’s their deal?

In their last four appearances at the Fifa World Cup, Switzerland have failed only once to reach the knockout round. Regarding form, they have been inconsistent ahead of this World Cup, but if we remember Euro 2020, they were the nation that knocked world champions France out. 

The Swiss play a very physical game, which is embodied by their fiery captain, Granit Xhaka. They also are a complete team with good players in every position and pace up front. They might try to use the pace of Breel Embolo to exploit Thiago Silva when they play Brazil, but will have to make sure that they do not become overzealous. 

The Swiss will believe that they will join Brazil and advance through this group, but Serbia and Cameroon are not easy teams to beat.

They will have to show the form that they had at the last World Cup and at Euro 2020 and still, they might fall short. 

Star player

Xherdan Shaqiri has been the star player for the Swiss in the past. He is still there, but Xhaka seems to be reborn this season. The midfielder has added goals to his game, cut out the clumsiness and has a new-found maturity that could be key for Switzerland if they want to fight their way out of this tough group. 

One thing Xhaka will need to do is keep his temper. The Swiss players with Albanian roots lost their composure at the last World Cup when they played Serbia, and Xhaka was at the forefront of the chaos. This time, he must lead with calmness to ensure Switzerland are still present in Qatar after three games.


What’s their deal?

Cameroon may shock a few at this World Cup. They have only made it out of the group stage once and that was back in 1990, when Roger Milla tore up the tournament and took the indomitable lions to the quarter finals. 

Cameroon don’t have his or Samuel Eto’o’s electricity, but they do have a few players who have been in excellent form in Europe’s top five leagues. 

Tipped to finish bottom of the group, Cameroon will be relying on Lyon attacker Karl Toko Ekambi, Bayern Munich striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Brentford forward Bryan Mbuemo to get their goals for them. But, like Serbia, they may struggle in defence.

Cameroon line up in a conventional 442 formation and this means they have no intention of showing any nation respect on the field. This could play into their hands because teams like Brazil and Serbia, who want to dominate the ball, may struggle to do it against Cameroon. 

If the African side can hold their composure and stay in games for as long as possible, sneak a goal and hold out, they might book themselves a knockout round place for the first time since 1990.

Star player

Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa has had an excellent season with Napoli. He controls the pace of the game for them, sets attacks off and gets an occasional goal. 

The midfielder will be key to Cameroon’s progression if he can bring that form to the World Cup with him.