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Tournament Fave Brazil Faces a Tough Serbian Side in Group Finale

The meeting between Brazil and Serbia in their Group E finale was always going to be a good one, but now World Cup bettors will get a match that has a flood of Round of 16 implications surrounding it. Brazil can get through with a draw or better; Serbia alternatively can either take 3 or take a hike back to the Balkans.

Bovada currently has Brazil as the favorite in moneyline markets at -200 with Serbia coming back as a big underdog at +550 and the draw sitting at +330. Totals shape up like this: OVER 2.5 is priced at -130 while the UNDER is sitting at +110.

SHARK BITES
  • Brazil has not conceded in nine of its last 11 matches.
  • Serbia has six players on yellow cards through two matches.
  • There have been UNDER 2.5 goals scored in five of Brazil’s last six matches.

BRILLIANT BRAZILIAN BACK LINE

Names like Miranda, Thiago Silva, Casemiro and Alisson can be easily overshadowed by a Brazilian attack that might be the best on the planet, but it’s that defensive core that has been and will continue to be the key to their success on the world stage.

Seleção posted 11 clean sheets through 18 qualification games and in nine of their last 11. Certainly their ability to maintain possession and spend a lot of time on the attack is partially to credit but they crushed almost any semblance of offense that the Costa Ricans put forward and absorbed the vast majority of any Swiss advances.

Serbia will indeed feature the best offensive threat they’ve faced in Russia. Aleksandar Mitrovic, Dusan Tadic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic bring a varied approach that should cause some disruption. They are a terrifying trio of finesse, pace and brutal physicality. If they can keep a clean sheet in the face of this team, I’m confident they will be dominant against whomever they face in the next round.

Brazil has the advantage of seeing how the Group F standings shake out and that could prove important. Mexico needs just one point to secure the top spot which would pit them against the runner-up of Brazil’s group, subsequently pitting (in all likelihood) Germany against the winner of their group.

Much of how this plays out will be out of Brazil’s control, but if given the chance to decide if I play Germany or Mexico, I avoid the Germans like the plague. Yes, the Germans have had their misfortunes, but I still view them as among the best three or four teams left in Russia.

WHITE EAGLES SEE YELLOW

Physical play comes at a cost and the Serbians enter this contest with six different players – five of which are first-choice regulars – on yellow cards and facing suspension if they receive any vs Brazil.

Certainly Serbia’s focus will be on getting through to the Round of 16 and that will take every bit of their affinity to play on the edge. That said, if/when they arrive at the Round of 16, they will undoubtedly be missing one or more of their starters.

Neymar, among other Brazilians, is notorious for drawing fouls. He set a record for fouls received (10) in their match vs Switzerland. No matter what, the prospect of a suspension will have to be on the minds of the White Eagles in some way as they fight for a spot in the next round.

All of their aforementioned attacking studs are among those on yellow cards, as are Manchester United superstar Nemanja Matic and former Chelsea standout Branislav Ivanovic. If any of these players should find themselves in the ref’s book, this team will be in a very difficult spot should they move on.

THE PLAY

Since this group was drawn, I’ve felt the Serbs have all the pieces and style of play to cause headaches for an attacking group that would prefer to dazzle than win dirty battles. They’ll be forced to play their game if they hope to have a chance against this immaculate Brazilian squad, but the card situation could diminish that style just enough to be their undoing.

In the end I see the Serbians playing their guts out for 90 minutes only to come up short. This reads like a draw to me with Brazil looking to comfortably advance and still find time to rest some of their stars. The value at +330 is phenomenal. If you’d rather play it safe here, take the Brazil moneyline chalk at -200. It’s not a bad price for a team that seems to have found their scoring boots 180 minutes into the tournament.

Bet on the 2018 World Cup here