Group E & F Matchday One Previews : Brazil and Germany to Dominate
Event Venue: Cosmo Arena, Samara, Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don, Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, June 17 and 18. Live on BBC1 and ITV.See Stats
The World Cup will really start to go up a gear when Group E and Group F swing into action. Our preview looks ahead to the Matchday 1 fixtures as Brazil and Germany start their campaigns.
Costa Rica v Serbia - Sunday 17 June 1pm
Costa Rica had an amazing tournament in 2014 topping a group that included Italy, England and Uruguay before losing in the quarter-finals to the Netherlands. They finished second behind Mexico in their qualifying group and reached the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup last year. Since then though, it's been a bit of a struggle with just a couple of wins over Northern Ireland and Scotland. They looked terrible in a friendly against England and they don't look like 2018 quarter-finalists that is for sure.
This is only the second time Serbia have been in a World Cup having only become an independent nation in 2006. Their only previous appearance was in the 2010 tournament finishing bottom of their group losing to Ghana and Australia but beating Germany. Serbia finished top of their qualifying group ahead of the Republic of Ireland and Wales. Recent results haven't been too promising with defeats by Morocco and Chile but the view here is they are well worth using a free bet on being able to beat Costa Rica.
Get odds of 1/1 on Serbia to beat Costa Rica with Betway (18+ t&c's apply)
Brazil v Switzerland - Sunday 17 June 7pm
They say that this tournament doesn't really begin until Brazil play their first match. In the past that was even more true because we just didn't get to see the magical Brazilians play so much on our TV screens. Now they are on telly all the time and in England's top league but heart beats still rise a bit when Brazil enter the tournament They won the South American qualifying group by ten points and only lost one out of 18 games. They boast such wonderful talent as Neymar, Willian, Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus, Philippe Coutinho and Fred. We all think of Brazil's creativeness and sensational strikers but this squad has more than that to offer. Unlike some previous squads, this one can defend well. In games played between 13 June 2016 and 3 June 2017, Brazil kept eight clean sheets in ten matches. The return of Neymar to the side is a frightening prospect for the oppositon that has to face them in Russia.
Switzerland won their first nine qualifiers but after losing their last game to Portugal, they had to go through the play-offs and get awarded THAT penalty against Northern Ireland to reach these finals. The Swiss have actually won two of their last three games against Brazil so won't be too scared of them. This is their fourth straight appearance in the finals and twice in the last three they have made it out of the group but you have to go back to 1954 for the last time they made the quarter-finals. They come into this match unbeaten in their last six internationals and have plenty of experience in their squad but lack a top striker with Haris Seferovic having only scored 12 in 51 appearances. Arsenal fans will be taking a good look at their captain Stephan Lichtsteiner who has just joined from Juventus but the defender should have a busy time here and this preview believes Brazil can win to nil.
Germany v Mexico -- Sunday 17 June 4pm
Recent results haven't been great for Germany but their fans know that when it comes to a tournament, the Germans always seem to step everything up a gear or two and become title challengers. They eased their way through the qualifying round with ten straight wins and you have to go back to 1978 for the last time they failed to make the last eight 1998 for their most recent failure to finish at least third. The defending champions have won their last six games against Mexico and after they got a win over Saudi Arabia to end a run of five games without a win, they should be able to get things back on track and kick-off the World Cup with three points.
Mexico finished five points clear at the top of the CONCACAF qualifying group only losing to Honduras in their ten games. This is the seventh tournament in a row they have qualifed for and on each occasion they have made it out of their group only to lose in the last sixteen. Their last quarter final appearance was when hosting the tournament in 1986. They aren't prolific scorers with Hirving Lozano being their top scorer in qualifying and he only scored three goals but 11 players scored for them in that qualifying group. They take on South Korea after this game and that will be a vital one for them because the tip here is to go for Germany to get the win and start another trip deep into a World Cup tournament.
Current odds for Germany to beat Mexico are 4/9 with Betfair (18+ t&c's apply)
South Korea v Sweden - Monday 18 June 1pm
Sweden broke the hearts of Italian fans when beating them in the play-offs and they have a decent chance of making it through to the knock-out stages. The key game should be their final group match against Mexico. The Swedes are in their first World Cup finals since 2006 but not since 1990 have they been knocked out in the group stages. Since their 1-0 win over Italy in the first leg of the play-offs, Sweden haven't managed to win unless they do so in their final warm-up game against Peru on June 9. The rumoured Ibrahimovic comeback hasnt materialised so they will be pinning a lot of hopes on Marcus Berg who was top scorer with eight goals in their qualifying group.
The South Korean side finished second behind Iran in their qualifying group to reach the finals for the ninth tournament in a row but only twice have they got out of their group in that time and famously finished fourth when co-hosting the 2002 World Cup. They are currently 57th in the FIFA World Rankings, 33 places below their opponents. They have failed to win any of their last six games in the finals and current form isn't impressive with defeats by Northern Ireland, Poland and Bosnia-Herzegovina. This preview believes that Sweden can get their World Cup campaign off to a good start with a narrow win over South Korea.
Get odds of 11/10 on Sweden to beat South Korea with William Hill (18+ t&c's apply)
- Brazil haven't lost an international since June 2017 when losing a friendly to Argentina.
- Brazil have lost their last two games in the World Cup finals conceding ten goals
- Switzerland have only lost one of their last 17 internationals
- Six of the last seven Switzerland games have had under 2.5 goals scored in them.
- At the time of writing five of the last six Serbia internationals had under 2.5 goals scored in them.
- Costa Rica got through to the last 16 in the 2014 World Cup but only scored two goals in four games.
- At the time of writing, Costa Rica have lost five of their last six games
- Germany had gone five games without a win before beating Saudi Arabia in their final warm-up match.
- The Germans have only lost one of their last 12 games played in World Cup finals.
- The last three games between Germany and Mexico have all had over 2.5 goals scored in them.
- Mexico have lost their last six games against Germany.
- Two out of three previous meetings between Sweden and South Korea have ended in draws.
- Sweden have only won one of their last six games in the World Cup finals.
- South Korea have only won one of their last nine games in the World Cup finals.
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