A look at the teams in Group E of the 2018 World Cup in Russia:
FIFA world ranking: 2
Last World Cup: 2014
Best World Cup finish: Champions, 2002, 1994, 1970, 1962, 1958
How qualified: Won South American qualifying tournament.
Key players: F Neymar, F Gabriel Jesus, D Marcelo
It's a fact: Brazil is the only non-European country to win the World Cup since 1986 and the only country to win consecutive titles since World War II.
The skinny: Brazil's World Cup hopes got a big boost when Neymar, playing for the first time since undergoing foot surgery in early March, displayed his fitness in an exhibition victory over Croatia last week. However, Brazil remains without Dani Alves, whose absence has weakened the team at right back. There is also some uncertainty in the midfield, where Renato Augusto and Douglas Costa have been slow to recover from injuries. That's the extent of Brazil's worries, though, because the team, which dominated the South American qualifying tournament, is loaded everywhere else and comes to Russia as a favorite.
FIFA world ranking: 25
Last World Cup: 2014
Best World Cup finish: Quarterfinals, 2014
How qualified: Finished second in CONCACAF qualifying tournament
Key players: GK Keylor Navas, MF Bryan Ruiz, F Marco Urena
It's a fact: This may be the tournament's "Group of Death" but Costa Rica is used to that. Four years ago it won a group that included three former champions in Uruguay, England and Italy.
The skinny: Costa Rica's Cinderella run to the quarterfinals in 2014 assures the team won't surprise anyone in Russia. The Ticos didn't lose a game in Brazil, getting eliminated by the Netherlands in a penalty-kick shootout, and the experience has given confidence to a lineup that returns as many as nine starters from 2014. No team in Russia has undergone so little turnover since the last tournament. The strength of the team - defense - also remains unchanged, but keeper Keylor Navas may be even better than he was in 2014 when he allowed just two goals.
FIFA world ranking: 35
Last World Cup: 2010
Best World Cup finish: Group stage, 2010
How qualified: Won its European qualifying group.
Key players: D Aleksandar Kolarov, MF Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, MF Nemanja Matic
It's a fact: Serbia, which began playing as an independent nation in 2006 following the breakup of the former Yugoslavia and the dissolution of Serbia and Montenegro, is the youngest team in the World Cup.
The skinny: Serbia returns to the World Cup after an eight-year absence with a deep midfield led by Matic and playmaker Dusan Tadic. But the key to its success could be the flashy Milinkovic-Savic. His talent is obvious, but he didn't make his national team debut until last November so chemistry remains a work in progress. The same goes for coach Mladen Krstajic, who was hired after the team had qualified for Russia and has never managed a competitive international or professional club game. Serbia's back four, led by Kolarov and Branislav Ivanovic - who have 177 caps combined - is solid.
FIFA world ranking: 6
Last World Cup: 2014
Best World Cup finish: Quarterfinals, 1954, 1938, 1934
How qualified: Beat Northern Ireland in European playoff
Key players: MF Granit Xhaka, MF Xherdan Shaqiri, D Stephan Lichtsteiner
It's a fact: In 2006, Switzerland became the only team ever eliminated from a World Cup without conceding a goal, pitching three shutouts in the group stage then losing to Ukraine in a penalty shootout in the Round of 16.
The skinny: This team may be the most eclectic in the World Cup, with a mix of players with backgrounds from Yugoslavia, Spain, Chile, Albania, the Cape Verde Islands, Croatia, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, South Sudan and Bosnia-Herzegovina. But it will rise or fall based on the performance of Yugoslav-born Shaqiri. The Stoke City midfielder can score jaw-dropping goals but his shots often fly wildly off the mark. He'll need to display discipline - and a better aim - to get Switzerland out of the group. The poised Xhaka, from Arsenal, is the midfield motor who quarterbacks the attack.
June 17: Costa Rica vs. Serbia in Samara; Brazil vs. Switzerland in Rostov-on-Don.
June 22: Brazil vs. Costa Rica in Saint Petersburg; Serbia vs. Switzerland in Kaliningrad.
June 27: Serbia vs. Brazil in Moscow; Switzerland vs. Costa Rica in Nizhny Novgorod.
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