Brazil – Serbia: World Cup Betting Preview
I disagree with the way most people in Europe predicted how Brazil would perform in this World Cup. I also disagreed with the expectations about Argentina. It may sound easy to say this on the day after Argentina lost to Saudi Arabia, but the truth is I’ve been saying that publicly for months.
I have my reasons. Most importantly, the last big game Brazil and Argentina faced was the 2021 Copa America final in July 2021.
Both teams qualified very early and while Europeans (and Asians) have been fighting hard for their spot in the tournament, that kind of adrenaline just can’t be replicated in training sessions or friendlies.
Tite, the Brazilian coach, has been complaining about this for a long time. And he’s definitely right. There were talks about the South American Giants playing in UEFA Nations League which could benefit the Brazilians and the Argentines.
Tite, however, doesn’t help much his situation as he called 122 players in 6 years in charge, and failed to call at least 3 Right Backs. Serbia’s strongest weapon may be Kostic playing as an efficient LW. If Danilo picks up an injury, then Tite will either have to use Daniel Alves, who once was a strong name, but now is completely unfit in terms of how often he plays big games.
Éder Militão reportedly can be a RB, but he has not playing in this position for Real Madrid recently. Any kind of adaptation sounds like a bad idea, considering this will be Brazil’s hardest adversary.
Anyways, I know. Vini Jr. is doing great, and in my opinion, he’s an unquestionable starter. But somehow, there are rumours in Brazil that he will start… benched? This one I simply don’t get.
Serbia will force Brazil to face two top-quality strikers, Mitrovic and Vlahovic. I also am not a fan of the way Tite sees the task of the defensive midfielders. In my opinion, accommodating so much talent could be done using the substitutions, and not overly attacking tactics which can backfire, just like in 2018 when I publicly recommended a bet on Belgium +0.25 in the Asian Handicap… Which was a winner…
Don’t get me wrong: I was born and raised here and I’m going to be happy if Brazil wins. But the professional punter mind… Forces us to see the truth.
I’m not as shocked as most of my fellow football analysts and punters based in Europe when it comes to what happened with Argentina. And I won’t be shocked if at least Serbia is a handicap winner… Let alone if they earn a point or win the game against Brazil.
On a final comment, many colleagues have been mentioning that it’s weird how Tite didn’t call Roberto Firmino. I think it’s more related to tactics than the player’s quality itself. Personally, I like strikers and Richarlison would be a sure starter in my view, but Tite favours some more fluid movements in the line of forwards and wingers.
Richarlison himself can be used as a LW, but I think Firmino is an experienced name that deserved a spot, especially if we consider the Daniel Alves situation.
Even if Tite considers Daniel Alves that important as a leader and experienced voice, my take on this is considering that his last days playing big matches are well behind him, he could be called as an assistant coach, a part of the manager’s staff. No need to use a spot that could be used by a player in his prime, or close to that, like Roberto Firmino.
I really admire the peak of Dani’s career, it’s nothing personal, I just believe that his last days at Mexican football didn’t prepare him for true action like Kostic is living in Europe, a man he could have to mark in this tournament.
Betting Preview: 1X2, Asian Handicap and Over/under
I usually don’t like 1×2 lines unless they match an existing -0.5 Asian Handicap line around 2. I don’t see value in the current 1×2 lines. A few weeks ago, Serbia +1.25 @1.90 was a tempting line to me and the market saw some value in the handicap lines, as it’s now trading on average at 1.77. But still, Serbia +1 can still be considered an interesting line especially if Vini Jr. starts from the bench, and it’s also a line that allows some hedge / cash out strategies.
Over 2.75 @1.95 may contain some value, as Brazil is likely to field a line-up that won’t provide much protection in the area in front of their box. I expect an open game because Brazil’s tactics have not been very defensive recently and their last games were very open.
Maybe waiting a little to buy the over lines may prove to be interesting as the prices get better.
I don’t see Brazil as much of a favourite to win the Cup as the Outrights pre-tournament odds suggested. But if they beat Serbia, their hardest opponent in the group, then they will start building some momentum and could go all the way.
If they progress to the Round of 16 and face a team coming from Group H, this team might be Portugal. You may want to check out our betting preview for the first game of the Portuguese, Portugal v Ghana, out now.