We are into the second week of the 2018 World Cup and that means the second round of group matches, some of which could be decisive. On Friday, the focus will be on Group E and the big match sees Brazil meet Costa Rica in the Saint-Petersburg Stadium. Brazil know a win would leave them in a good position to qualify for the Round of 16 whereas Costa Rica know they cannot afford to lose the match as it would see them close to elimination from the tournament.
Brazil started the 2018 World Cup with a match against Switzerland. Brazil were expected to win the match and this expectation increased when they took the lead in the first half. A great strike from Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring and Brazil looked set to go on and win the game.
However, Switzerland equalised in the second half and Brazil could not up the tempo of their game to find the winner. It was a disappointing result from Brazil and they must improve their level of performance to take maximum points from this game.
Costa Rica Form
Costa Rica were the surprise package of the 2014 World Cup, reaching the quarter-final stage of the tournament. However, this time opposition managers and players are wise to their tactics and their defence is their strongest element of play.
While Costa Rica did not concede from open play against Serbia, they lost 1-0 thanks to a direct free-kick. Their attacking play was poor and the link-up between midfield and attack needs to improve if they are to trouble the Brazilian defence.
Costa Rica have lost each of their last 5 meetings with Brazil and will need to overcome any inferiority complex, if they are to get something from the game.
Brazil have doubts over the fitness of Fred and Neymar. The latter was on the end of some tough tackling from the Swiss defence but will be given every chance to prove his fitness ahead of the match. If he fails to make it, Renato Augusto could come into midfield, with Philippe Coutinho pushed into attack.
Costa Rica may look to make one change from the starting XI against Serbia. Christian Bolanos looked lively coming from the bench and could replace Johan Venegas in attack.
Top Betting Tips
It would be considered a huge shock if Brazil did not win this game. They have the superior players and hold a great advantage in the head-to-head record against Costa Rica. You can back Brazil to win the game at 1/5 with William Hill.
However, Tite does not appear to be the type of manager who will throw players forward and abandon the defensive side of Brazil’s game. Therefore, it may not be a big win in terms of the score and Ladbrokes offer 11/4 for Brazil to win the match by 2 goals.
If fit, Neymar is sure to come in for some more rough attention in this game but will be eager to get off the mark. Expect to see the PSG man around all free-kicks close to the edge of the box as he attempts to score his first goal of the tournament. Neymar is 12/5 at William Hill to score the first goal of the game.