Group E has been great to watch. Switzerland and Serbia played out one of the best games of the tournament, while there was plenty of drama (and missed chances) in both of Brazil’s matches. Oh and Aleksandar Kolarov’s brilliant late free-kick against Costa Rica was perhaps the best of its kind at the competition so far.
As it stands, Brazil need only a draw in this match to be sure of qualifying, while Serbia must win to overtake the high-fancied South Americans and progress. The teams that do make it through will face either Mexico, Germany or Sweden, and the results of the Group F final matches (played earlier in the day) will have a huge impact on this match.
For example, if Germany finish second in that group (it’s looking very likely at this stage), then the team that finishes first in Group E will run into them in the Round of 16. This won’t be a desirable outcome for Brazil, who may look to settle for a draw against the Serbs.
However that is a very risky tactic – if they lose this match they will almost surely be eliminated from the competition altogether. It’s a very fine line.
Serbia are an interesting prospect. They boast some of the biggest names in world soccer including captain Kolarov, who helped AS Roma progress to the Champions League semi-finals, and Nemnja Matic, one of Manchester United’s best. Yet their failure to gain a point against Switzerland will surely cost them a chance of progression. Brazil are on another level, and it’s unsurprising to see them start as the clear favourite to win this match.
The Brazilians start this game at -255, which hasn’t changed much since the markets opened.
Serbia start at huge outsiders to win this match, paying +646, while the draw can be obtained at +378. We’re predicting a narrow win to Brazil, who have dominated games although lacked cohesion at the front. Our pick is a 2-1 victory, with Serbia always a threat to score from set pieces against the run of play.