Brazil, who at 9/2 to win outright are the joint favourites with Germany in the World Cup odds, are the headliners in Group E and they will face Serbia, Costa Rica and Switzerland in the group stages in Russia. Gareth Freeman offers his Group E World Cup tips.
Brazil have been handed what looks to be a very favourable draw for the group stages and it is hard to see them slipping up against any of their first three opponents. This selection doesn’t need much explaining and looks to be a real World Cup betting banker but if you do fancy one of the other teams to cause an upset, Switzerland are 13/2 to top Group E, Serbia are 8/1 and Central Americans Costa Rica are the massive outsiders at 20/1.
Serbia are gearing up for their second World Cup as a solo nation after missing out in 2014, having previously competed as various incarnations of Yugoslavia and once as Serbia and Montenegro.
Switzerland are the second favourites to qualify after 1/20 shots Brazil at 11/10, but the Serbs were strong in qualifying, having finished as Group D winners, and have a few talented players within their squad who can make a difference.
Coach Mladen Krstajic has some particularly strong options in midfield with Manchester United star Nemanja Matic the biggest name in his 23-man travelling party. Torino’s Adam Ljajic and Southampton star Dusan Tadic bring creativity to the squad and 21-year-old Benfica winger Andrija Zivkovic is a potential star of the future and one to keep an eye on in Russia.
Aleksandar Kolarov and Branislav Ivanovic bring experience and strength to their back-line and up front they have a real danger man in Aleksandar Mitrovic, who should head to the tournament in confident mood after helping fire Fulham to promotion during a loan stint from Newcastle.
This call is probably a bit unfair on Costa Rica, who looked good in qualifying and hammered Northern Ireland 3-0 on Sunday. However, having been placed in a group with Brazil they could find themselves on the wrong end of at least one thrashing and, at 17/1, they look good value in the World Cup odds to concede the most goals and are worth a small stake in this market at least.
Switzerland managed a 1-1 draw with Spain on Sunday but in truth they were lucky to get any kind of result as the 2010 World Cup winners dominated for large periods. Brazil should be more clinical in front of goal and can kick off with a convincing win in their opening fixture.
The Selecao will be keen to banish any thoughts of that 7-1 semi-final humbling from four years ago, and have been in good scoring form after downing a decent Croatia side 2-0 in a warm-up game over the weekend.
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