Friday World Cup Picks: Expect More from Brazil vs. Ticos

Martin Green

Tuesday, June 19, 2018 1:47 PM UTC

Tuesday, Jun. 19, 2018 1:47 PM UTC

Brazil have a great opportunity to get back to winning ways when they face Costa Rica on Friday, but the day's other World Cup matches look tight.

Friday's World Cup ActionBrazil v Costa Rica (8 AM ET)

World Cup favourites Brazil made a slow start to their World Cup campaign as they were held to a 1-1 draw by a stubborn Swiss side. The impetus is now on Tite’s men to kick on and win their remaining two group games and finish top. They should be able to secure victory against a hard-working but technically-limited Costa Rica team. Oscar Ramirez’s men reached the quarter-finals at the last World Cup, but the same players are now longer in the tooth and they have thus far struggled to recreate that energy and dynamism.

The Ticos battled bravely against a superior Serbian side, but ultimately sunk to a 1-0 defeat, leaving them with a mountain to climb in the group. The challenge will now get much harder as they will have to try to contain Neymar, Philippe Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus. Coutinho whipped in a fantastic strike from long range against Switzerland, and he looks a good bet to score at any time in this game too. He is capable of the moments of magic that can unlock tight defences, and his long-range shooting is peerless. Brazil are heavy favourites to win this one, but you can get more value by backing them to win to nil at -200 with Bet365. Another option would be Brazil to win and 'under' 3.5 goals at -120 with sportsbooks like Betway. This has been a low-scoring tournament so far, and that is likely to continue, with Costa Rica focusing on defence more than attack.

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30,000 Iceland fans doing the 'Viking Clap'⁠⁠ unbelievable! Almost 10% of their entire population! 👏🏻pic.twitter.com/PU7E2ZLk2f

— FIFA World Cup (@worIdcupfan) June 16, 2018
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Nigeria v Iceland (11 AM ET)

Iceland is the smallest nation to ever qualify for the World Cup, but they showed no signs of awe when they faced Lionel Messi’s Argentina in their first game. They held the fifth-favourites to a 1-1 draw, and they looked really solid. It should come as no surprise to anyone that watched them beat England at Euro 2016 and then secure victory against Croatia en route to topping a World Cup qualifying group that also included Turkey, Ukraine and Finland. They work extremely hard, they are very well disciplined and the press all over the pitch, roared on by their ferocious fans, whose Viking clap sends shivers down the spine.

The same cannot be said of Nigeria, who looked extremely lethargic in their opener against Croatia. It finished 2-0 to the Croats, and Nigeria never really got out of second gear. It was a desperately frustrating performance, as the Super Eagles are blessed with plenty of pace and power, but they displayed a distinct lack of quality on the ball. That should give Iceland confidence heading into the game, and the +170 that Bet365 is offering on them to win looks great. You could also try Iceland draw no bet at -125 if you are feeling more cautious.

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Serbia v Switzerland (2 PM ET)

Switzerland showed why they are ranked among the world’s top 10 teams by battling to a draw against the mighty Brazil. They looked extremely solid, and that augurs well for the remainder of the tournament. The Brazilians are still expected to qualify for the last-16, and this game is likely to decide who joins them. It looks nail-bitingly close for both set of fans. Serbia did well to secure a 1-0 win against Costa Rica and they too look tough defensively.

This looks like developing into another low-scoring game, and 'under' 2.5 goals looks appealing at -188 with Bet365. Neither team has a superstar striker – Serbia relied on a set piece from Aleksandar Kolarov in their opener, while Switzerland scored with a header from a corner – and this battle is likely to be contested largely in midfield. Switzerland look like the slightly stronger team all-round, and their world ranking and the odds both justify that assertion. Switzerland draw no bet therefore looks like a really tempting option at -137 as they could well scrape victory in this tight game.

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