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Soccer World Cup Group E: Round 1 Preview and Betting Picks

| June 16, 2018 12:00 am PDT
Group E Preview Round 1

Brazil is always among the favorites of the soccer World Cup, and 2018 is not an exception.

The South American powerhouse is in a slippery group and will play Switzerland first. It’s a tricky game that could set the tone for the rest of the group phase.

Serbia and Costa Rica will try to beat each other in the other match, which is crucial for both sides. They are considered the underdogs in this phase of the World Cup.

It seems like a loss here would almost certainly be the end of the road for any of the teams.

You can check my general thoughts about this Group E before we proceed with the games and betting picks for the 1st round of the World Cup.

Costa Rica – Serbia

First things first, so let’s take a look at the main odds for this game.

Costa Rica to Win5.00
Serbia to Win1.90
Under 2.5 Goals1.53
Over 2.5 Goals2.40

Most people believe Costa Rica has no chance in this group and will go home after the first round of the World Cup finals.

If you are among them, I would like to remind you that the situation seemed even more desperate in 2014. The country was drawn against England, Italy, and Uruguay. No one believed Costa Rica could qualify for the last 16, let alone win the group. Which is exactly what happened at the end, as the team was unbeaten.

So, yeah, if you think Costa Rica is gone before the tournament has even started, time to change your mind.

The main in the squad will be Keylor Navas, who’s a world-class goalkeeper. The guy has been doing a fantastic job at Real Madrid, and the rumors are that one of the reasons Zidane left the managerial post is because he fought with the club president who wanted to replace Navas.

Either way, the guy is one of the best in his position at the World Cup, and the team in front of him is known for its hard work. Costa Rica will be set to defend fiercely and hit on the counter.

This is the style that brought them success in 2014, and there’s no reason to change in 2018.

Serbia might be the favorite for this match, at least on paper, but I can see the team struggle a lot against the brave Costa Ricans.

The European team has a couple of good attacking players like Dusan Tadic, Sergej Savic, and Aleksandar Mitrovic, while skipper Aleksandar Kolarov will serve as a creative force from the back. However, they need some space to operate, and Costa Rica won’t provide.

At the same time, the Serbian defense has a lot of experience but lacks pace, which plays perfectly in the hands of Joel Campbell and some of the other speedy forwards of Costa Rica.

It seems like Serbia’s squad is a bit better overall, but the team from North America is a terrible matchup style-wise.

Prediction and Betting Picks

I honestly can’t understand the prices for this one. It’s early days, and I could be wrong, but this match is much closer than the odds suggest, in my opinion. Sure, the Serbian squad has some better players and probably more experience.

At the same time, Costa Rica has proven to be dangerous and has the tools to exploit the main issues that Serbia has shown.

This is the reason I will go for Costa Rica to win or draw, priced at 1.90. If you are brave enough, I think the 5.00 for the team to win represents some excellent value. As for the correct score, my prediction is for a hard-fought 1-1.

PICKCosta Rica or Draw Double Chance2.30

Brazil – Switzerland

Here are the odds for the most popular markets.

Brazil to Win1.40
Switzerland to Win9.50
Under 2.5 Goals1.90
Over 2.5 Goals1.90

The odds for Brazil against what many consider as the second-best team in Group D tell the whole story. The South American giant is a heavy favorite to win this stage and progress to the last 16 with ease.

I’m inclined to agree that this will happen, but I don’t think Brazil will dominate the other teams in the group as convincingly as most people suggest.

In fact, I expect the 5-time world champions to have some issues from the start of the tournament in the game against Switzerland.

The European team lacks superstars but has a group of hard-working players who are seasoned professionals in some of the best leagues on the continent.

Names like Granit Xhaka, Valon Behrami, and Xherdan Shaqiri have the quality and experience to hurt any team out there.

I expect Switzerland to keep it tight at the back and exploit any opportunity to counter Brazil. Also, the team will try to keep the ball and relieve the pressure at times, and this will be the key.

If the Swiss midfield does manage to gain control over the ball often enough, the team has a chance to take something from this match.

However, if Brazil receives too much room, the likes of Neymar, Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus, and Coutinho can be devastating.

Switzerland knows that and will try to make the game physical. The likes of Behrami and Xhaka are the masters of such style, which is the reason I expect Brazil to struggle a bit.

Prediction and Betting Picks

I thought long and hard about the best approach for this game. Brazil is the clear favorite, but the odds for the team to win are simply too short to contain any value.

At the same time, going for Switzerland is risky, as the South Americans have too much quality and will probably find a way to win the game at the end.

I don’t like the over/under markets, either, because a goal for Brazil in the first half would open up the game.

This is why I decided to improvise a bit for this particular match. I think Switzerland will do its best to prevent Brazil from playing their free-flowing football. Both Valon Behrami and Granit Xhaka are not afraid to break the rules, and sometimes, they could even be called dirty.

The odds for this market are not yet out, but I expect prices of around 2.50 for each of them to be booked. I will take both, as I can’t see them lasting 90 minutes without receiving a card against Brazil.

As for the correct score in this game, I would go for 2-1 in favor of Brazil.

PICKGranit Xhaka to be Booked2.50
PICKValon Behrami to be Booked2.50

BetVictor Million Pound Bet

Time to try and find a good pick for the Million Pound Bet by BetVictor. Since I can see Costa Rica win against Serbia and the price is 5.00, this will be my starting point.

  • Costa Rica to Win 1-0
  • Match over 2.5 Cards
  • Serbia over 6.5 Corners

My logic here is to go for a Costa Rica to keep a clean sheet and catch Serbia on the counter. On top of that, I expect some fouls and cards.

Since I can see Serbia dominating this match in terms of possession, I think they will win a lot of corners.

Final Words

It’s always interesting to see how Brazil starts the World Cup, but the other teams of this Group E also have a lot to offer.

Serbia and Switzerland are considered the favorites for the second spot in the knockout stage, but Costa Rica will certainly fight hard not to go home early.

I would love to hear your thoughts and expectations, especially if they include some betting suggestions.

Good luck!

Jerry Summer

Jerry Summer has a wide-ranging interest in gambling and the gambling industry. He's made a living out of both playing poker and betting on sports.

The English Premier League and the NBA are among Jerry's primary areas of expertise. He's knowledgeable about many other sports, too, along with poker and several casino games.

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