After Serbia’s incredibly naïve surrender of a 1-0 lead to lose against Switzerland on Friday night, they now need to beat Brazil if they are to realistically qualify for the Second Round of the World Cup.
Brazil haven’t quite found their rhythm yet, but finally ground down Costa Rica to seal a late victory that will stand them in good stead for the rest of the tournament.
Only a win will do for Serbia, so I predict an open game with plenty going on, but if Brazil are able to contain the direct aerial threat of Aleksandar Mitrovic, then even-money (Coral) for a Samba Boys clean sheet looks like good value.
However, if Mitro’s robust style ruffles feathers, then you can be sure that both teams scoring has a great chance at coming in at 6/5, which is a decent price when you take into account Serbia’s desperation for goals. Which one would I plump for? The Brazilians have looked solid at the back so far, so my gut says the clean sheet.
Philippe Coutinho is thriving in a central attacking role, and his winner against the Costa Ricans was the second straight World Cup game in which he has scored the first goal. If you fancy him to make it a hat-trick of opening goals, then you can get on him to score first at 9/2 with William Hill.
On the Serbian side of the equation you’ve got to be taking a look at Roma left-back Aleksandar Kolarov as a potential source of goals. The 32-year-old scored a sublime free-kick in his country’s World Cup opener against Costa Rica, and if Brazil limit the Serbs to long-range shots then he is their biggest danger by far. You can get odds of around 10/1 for Kolarov to score anytime in this one.
This looks like the end of the road for Serbia, however. Failure to beat Switzerland in their last game has left them playing catch up against the least suitable opponents possible. Brazil’s big-game experience will ultimately tell, and the Samba Boys victory plus over 2.5 goals double looks like a good bet at 29/20 with Ladbrokes.