George Pitts and Billy Cundall look ahead to matchday three in Group E, with Brazil tipped to scrape another victory...
Group E: Recommended World Cup bets
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Scenario: Brazil would be safely through with a win or a draw against Serbia and will top the group unless Switzerland better their result, or match it with a better goal margin - the Selecao's goal difference is currently one better. A draw with already-eliminated Costa Rica would be enough for Switzerland and defeat could still see them qualify if Serbia also lose. A win would take Serbia through and a draw could be enough if Switzerland lose by two.
- Serbia 1-2 Brazil
- Switzerland 2-0 Costa Rica
Serbia v Brazil (1900 BST, ITV)
Brazil are yet to hit their stride, but you cannot help but think it is only a matter of time until they do in this tournament.
They left it extremely late to beat Costa Rica, netting two stoppage-time goals and they are far from clear of being eliminated going into their meeting with Serbia.
You would expect the Selecao to get the victory, which is clear by their odds-on price, but they have not made it easy for themselves and this could be another result they grind out against a Serbia side who have shown glimpses of their capabilities.
Brazil's group performances so far have wielded few goals (1-1 and 2-0 scorelines) and backing them to win and under 3.5 goals at 6/5 looks a decent price to more than double your money.
Neymar got off the mark with a goal which brought on the tears at full-time and his general price of evens to score anytime looks tempting, while their top goalscorer at the tournament Philippe Coutinho is better advised to score for the third World Cup game running.
One of the most interesting goalscoring markets for value is to net from outside the penalty area and the Barca playmaker (15/8 anytime) is a tempting 11/2 – something he has already achieved in this tournament. Other tempting ones from this market could be Aleksandar Kolarov (20/1), Serbia’s set piece taker well capable of emulating his free-kick in their group opener.
But with the way the tournament has gone so far, Brazil and below 3.5 goals looks like a good option to side with here.
Prediction: Serbia 1-2 Brazil (Sky Bet odds: 15/2) (George Pitts)
- Yugoslavia included, Serbia and Brazil have met four times at the World Cup. Their head-to-head record is perfectly balanced with one win each and two draws.
- Serbia and Brazil’s first ever World Cup appearance was in a match against each other in 1930 – Yugoslavia running out 2-1 winners.
- In all competitions, Brazil are unbeaten in 13 matches (W9 D4 L0), conceding just three goals in that run.
- Serbian forward Aleksandar Mitrovic has scored 18 goals in 26 games for club and country in 2018.
- Philippe Coutinho has scored in each of his last three appearances for Brazil.
- Brazil’s Neymar has been directly involved in 18 goals in his last 17 appearances for the national side (10 goals, 8 assists).
Switzerland v Costa Rica (1900 BST, ITV4)
After a dramatic win over Serbia on Friday, Switzerland know that if they beat Costa Rica, they secure a place in the round of 16.
Costa Rica were the surprise packages of the 2014 tournament, qualifying top of a group comprised of England, Italy and Uruguay. This time around, however, has not been so favourable, and without a goal to their name, the CONCACAF nation have been eliminated after just two games played.
Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri was pivotal in any attack last time out, and with more space and freedom expected against a weaker Costa Rica side, the Stoke man to score anytime at 9/4 boosted from 7/4 with Sky Bet looks like good value, but not as great as the boost of Shaqiri to score first and the Swiss to win 2-0, which clocks in at 33/1.
Costa Rica have looked bland going forward and so a Swiss win to nil at 6/4 is a smart bet.
VAR has been dominating the headlines across this World Cup, and in a game of suspected Switzerland pressure, I imagine a penalty may be awarded, and so the bet of 2+ penalties taken at 12/1 could be a smart outside bet with small stakes.
Overall it is difficult to see past a Switzerland side determined to qualify, and so a comprehensive victory is likely.
Prediction: Switzerland 2-0 Costa Rica (Sky Bet odds: 6/1) (Billy Cundall)
Best Bet: 2+ penalties in the match at 12/1
- Switzerland and Costa Rica will be meeting for the third time and the first time at a major tournament – both nations have recorded one win each.
- The Swiss are unbeaten in their previous four World Cup games against sides from CONCACAF (W2 D2) – winning most recently against Honduras at World Cup 2014 (3-0).
- Costa Rica are winless in their last four World Cup games against European sides (W0 D3 L1), scoring just one goal across those four matches.
- Xherdan Shaqiri has been directly involved in five of Switzerland's last six World Cup goals (four goals, one assist).
- Stephan Lichtsteiner made his ninth World Cup appearance for versus Serbia – the most of any Swiss player in history.
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Odds correct at 1830 BST on 26/06/18
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