Halfway through – we now move to Group E.
The group contains Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland and Costa Rica.
This is certainly the toughest group to call, as any of Serbia, Switzerland or Costa Rica could go through with Brazil. Costa Rica are the outsiders, but look at what they did four years ago! Serbia have certainly come on in the past 4 years, with the likes of Milinkovic-Savic sure to be instrumental. Switzerland are also capable, but I’m not so sure they will do well.
Let’s have a look at the four:
Certs to qualify – it’s merely a question of will they win all three games. I think they will, but will face three stern tests.
Quality all over the pitch, not a team to enjoy defensive work but with the likes of Thiago Silva and Miranda doing that, other such as Marcelo should be able to roam forward. The forward lineup is potentially mouthwatering – Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Coutinho, with the likes of Fernandinho and Paulinho doing the dirty work.
Prices are so short in terms of ante posts, so finding value is going to be a struggle! 5/4 for them to win all three games looks the best about.
Serbia are well fancied by many to do well, and with such a good team this time around – it is justified. It’s just a matter of weather they can put it all into practice on the pitch and perform at the highest level, or crack.
Their team is filled with some of the best around Europe. Two very good keepers in Stoijkovic and Rajkovic, and sturdy back four including Alexander Kolarov, Branislav Ivanovic, Rukavina and Nicola Mileknovic. A midfield that has the defensive qualities of Nemanja Matic, Sergei Milinkovic-Savic (who also scores plenty of goals) as well as offensive players such as Adam Ljajic, Filip Kostic and Andrea Zivkovic – and then the ultimate nutter Aleksandar Mitrovic upfront. Service will be key.
What. A. Team.
But will they do it in Russia? I think so.
The Swiss always bring a solid team, but for me always flatter to deceive. They have all the ingredients to do very well, but fall short when it comes down to the nitty-gritty. A somewhat ageing side that were beaten late on by Argentina last time in Brazil, and then won 9/10 games in Qualifying for this tournament, although with the easy qualifying where you only really play 1 decent team is hardly difficult (look at England).
Embolo is their young superstar, and the likes of Rodriguez and Shaqiri are their other lead players. I’d say 4 points is the target to qualify, but Serbia and Costa Rica are both tough opponents – and given their struggle against an average Northern Ireland side in which a dodgy penalty was the only way they qualified – I have my doubts about them.
I think they will miss out to Serbia, and potentially even finish 4th as Costa Rica are really difficult to gauge.
This could easily be the same team that took them to the 2014 Quarter-Final against Holland. 8 of their starting 11 could be the same, although that only means those same players are 4 years older and potentially at their last World Cup. Nobody saw them coming last time, but this time around – teams will take them seriously, and despite beating Italy and Uruguay – Serbia and Brazil are equally as tough.
9/2 to qualify reflects some of the above, and the fact they no longer have the underdog tag could have it’s price.
Group Forecast – 1: Brazil / 2: Serbia @ 5/2
Excellent Value: Brazil – 9 Points @ 5/4
High Value: Group Forecast @ 5/2
Banker: Brazil Over 6.5 Points @ 2/5