World Cup 2018: Odds and Updated Predictions for Friday's Group Matches

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJune 22, 2018

Brazil's forward Neymar attends a training session at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 21, 2018 on the eve of the Russia 2018 World Cup Group E football match between Brazil and Costa Rica. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)        (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
GABRIEL BOUYS/Getty Images

Brazil faltered in a 1-1 draw against Switzerland in their first outing at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, but the Selecao have the opportunity to climb to the top of Group E if they beat Costa Rica on Friday.

Manager Tite's side are huge favourites to hand the Central Americans their second defeat of the tournament as they bid to claim top spot in the section.

Group E leaders Serbia face Switzerland at the Kaliningrad Stadium later in the day, when head coach Vladimir Petkovic's side look to prove their draw with Brazil was no fluke.

Iceland and Nigeria are set to collide in Volgograd in a clash between the two teams who looked least likely to escape Group D, although the former will be invigorated by their 1-1 draw with Argentina.

Here, we take a look at Friday's World Cup slate and provide predictions, along with a projected outlook of the group standings after the latest batch of fixtures.

          

Friday's Schedule/Predictions

Brazil 3-1 Costa Rica, 4 p.m. local time/1 p.m. BST/8 a.m. ET

Nigeria 0-1 Iceland, 8 p.m. local time/4 p.m. BST/11 a.m. ET

Serbia 2-2 Switzerland, 9 p.m. local time/7 p.m. BST/2 p.m. ET

         

Friday's Match Odds

Brazil (1-5; bet $500 to win $100), Draw (23-4), Costa Rica (13-1)

Nigeria (17-10), Draw (23-10), Iceland (31-20)

Serbia (31-20), Draw (23-10), Switzerland (9-5)

Odds courtesy of OddsShark

         

Projected Group Standings (Goal Difference)

Group D

1. Croatia (a): 6 (+5)

2. Iceland: 4 (+1)

3. Argentina: 1 (-3)

4. Nigeria: 0 (-3)

       

Group E

1. Brazil: 4 (+2)

2. Serbia: 4 (+1)

3. Switzerland: 2 (0)

4. Costa Rica: 0 (-3)

(a) denotes a team that has qualified for the next round. Visit the official FIFA website for the full standings.

        

Preview

After becoming one of the big names to fall victim to a surprise group-stage result, Brazil should restore normal order with victory over Costa Rica.

While their draw with the Swiss was a disappointment, the Selecao sizzled for great portions of the game, and BBC Sport's John Bennett noted how they've evaded an injury scare over key man Neymar this week:

It was thought that an injury he appeared to suffer in training could keep the Paris Saint-Germain star out of their second match, although all appeared to be well in the buildup to the game:

Costa Rica's 1-0 defeat to Serbia was hardly a blowout, but they showed a lack of innovation a lot of the time, something Brazil don't suffer from.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic had an impressive first World Cup appearance in the win over Los Ticos, and beIN Sport presenter Matteo Bonetti underlined just how big a talent Serbia have in their midfield ahead of the Switzerland game:

Serbia and Switzerland are evenly matched in their ability, with the latter relying on the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Valon Behrami to impress again, while the former need striker Aleksandar Mitrovic firing.

Meanwhile, Iceland will look to open up a three-point gap on Argentina with a win over Nigeria in Group D, although sports reporter Colin Udoh noted how the Super Eagles will attempt to counter the Scandinavians' set-piece threat:

That said, it was the quality of the Icelandic counter-attack that shone in the 1-1 draw against La Albiceleste, with Alfred Finnbogason's equaliser being a prime example of how swiftly they can break upfield.

Iceland may be the smallest nation to qualify for a World Cup, but their willingness to fight isn't indicative of a "small-team mentality," and their team structure is likely to be too refined for Nigeria.

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