Tue, Jun 5, 1:47pm by Staff Writer
Group E of the 2018 FIFA World Cup features the hosts of the 2014 tournament Brazil, as well as European nations Switzerland and Serbia. The underdogs in the group will be Central America’s Costa Rica.
The Brazilian team has rebuilt after a disastrous end to the last World Cup in their host country, where they were trounced 7-1 in the semi-final by Germany.
Now coached by Tite, the Brazilians dominated South American qualifying, topping the group by 10 points.
Brazil are equal World Cup favourites with Germany at $5.50 at Sportsbet and will be one of the teams to beat in Russia.
One of Brazil’s stars, PSG’s Neymar returned from injury and scored as a second-half substitute in Sunday’s 2-0 friendly win against Croatia at Anfield.
That leaves no doubt that he will be fit and ready for the World Cup, which will be a huge relief to Brazilian fans, and boosts their World Cup hopes.
Brazil are a team blessed with talent and skill across the park, with many of their players plying their trade in England, Spain, Italy and France.
There are plenty of familiar names in the Brazilian squad including Marcelo from Real Madrid as well as Barcelona’s Coutinho and Chelsea’s Willian.
Brazil are favourites to win group E at $1.28, the shortest price of any team to win their group in the tournament.
Progressing to the knockout rounds is a seen as a formality, with the side $1.06 to pass through group E.
The fight for second position in group E will be between Switzerland and Serbia, with both teams seen as dark horses in the competition.
Switzerland has qualified for its fifth consecutive World Cup and ninth in total, beating Northern Ireland in a playoff.
The Swiss team includes a number of talented players, which makes their price of $2 to pass through group E appealing. They are $101 to win the World Cup, but can more than stand their own, particularly against Brazil and Serbia.
Hot-headed Granit Xhaka is part of the Swiss midfield which includes Stoke player Xherdan Shaqiri. Up front, Breel Embolo has been a revelation for Schalke in the Bundesliga and will surely be among the goals.
Serbia is also $2 to qualify from group E, which is the closest betting group in this market.
The Serbs topped group D in UEFA qualification, but replaced their coach Slavoljub Muslin before the tournament.
As Serbia, the team has participated in three out of four World Cup’s, but has never managed to progress beyond the group stage.
The Serbian players hail from many of Europe’s leagues, from Russia to Spain and everywhere in between.
Aleksandar Mitrovic is their high-profile forward from Newcastle, with Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic and Southampton’s Dusan Tadic among their other prominent Premier League players.
Serbia are $126 to win the World Cup and begin their campaign against Costa Rica in a must-win game if they are to progress through group E.
Their second and most pivotal match takes place against Switzerland in Kaliningrad on June 22, before ending their group campaign against Brazil.
Costa Rica qualified for their fourth World Cup after finishing first in group B of qualification. They are a powerhouse in the CONCACAF and their stature has grown in the football world in recent times.
They made the quarter finals of the 2014 World Cup, losing to Netherlands in a dramatic penalty shootout, as the surprise packet of Brazil.
Group E will be a challenge for the Costa Rican’s to navigate, but they will certainly provide a surprise factor in group play.
Real Madrid keeper Keylor Navas is their biggest player and may well go a long way to deciding their fate in group E.
Costa Rica are outsiders in group E at $14 to win the group and $4 to reach the knockout stages. They are $501 to win the World Cup, but could provide a good cash out opportunity should they repeat their 2014 heroics.
Best bet- Serbia to qualify from group E at $2
Group E Winner
Costa Rica $14
To qualify from Group E
Costa Rica $4
Brazil $1.36 Draw $4.50 Switzerland $9
Costa Rica $4.20 Draw $3.10 Serbia $1.91
Costa Rica $501
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