That Brazil will finish as the winners of Group E in the 2018 World Cup is more than likely. Online sportsbook sites in Russia think Costa Rica’s place at the bottom of the same group is also guaranteed. However, the Central American team has what it takes to upset the Group E betting specials.
Since Brazil is the bookies’ favorite to win the entire tournament, betting on their winning the group stage doesn’t reward one with a high return (1.26). Betting on their being in the top 2 offers an even smaller profit (1.05); it’s essentially pointless. However, the battle for the second place of Group E promises to be extremely fierce and gives a better opportunity for gamblers to convert their sports knowledge into money.
Costa Rica is comfortable with the underdog role
While today’s online sportsbooks in Russia might still be underestimating Costa Rica, they are certainly not making the mistake bookies made in 2014. Four years ago, bookies estimated the Central American team’s odds for winning their group (where they were facing football powerhouses such as Uruguay, Italy and England) to be 51.00. Costa Rica then fulfilled the risk-taking gambler’s dream and finished first, beating Uruguay and Italy and drawing with England. They reached the quarter-finals, where even Netherlands could only stop them on penalties.
The team hasn’t been sitting on their laurels since that historical achievement. For instance, they have crushed the United States’ hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, after which Bruce Arena, coach of the American team, had to admit: “I thought they outplayed us and outcoached us.” Despite successes like this, online betting sites in Russia still don’t quite trust Costa Rica. The official betting odds for the squad to get past the group stage are 5.00; for winning their group, 21.00.
Costa Rica’s best weapons for upsetting the Group E betting specials
What makes the Central American team’s hopes for getting out of Group E realistic? First and foremost, their world class goalkeeper, who tops off an already solid defense. In the 2014 World Cup, Navas was chosen as FIFA’s man of the match on three occasions and was one of the three nominees for the Golden Glove Award. The video below proves that he is just as unsettling to strikers in 2018 as he was four years ago.
Although his miss at the penalty shootout against Netherlands greatly contributed to his teams’ exit at the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals, the Costa Rican captain’s mistake was probably an isolated incident. After all, before that penalty he had proved his ability to flourish under pressure on numerous occasions, scoring crucial goals in the group stage of the same World Cup. He also kept performing well after the tournament, which earned him the CONCACAF Player of the Year title in 2016.
What about the other teams?
Of course, Costa Rica will need all of its resources to reach the knockout stage as the other teams coveting the second place in Group E are certainly going to put up a great fight.
Serbia has recently changed coaches, saying goodbye to Slavoljub Muslin and appointing Mladen Krstajic. The question is whether the players have had enough time to adjust to Krstajic’s different approach and get familiar with the young talents he had added to the squad. Serbia looked fine in the friendlies that opened the Krstajic era but the stakes are infinitely higher at a World Cup group stage. Their odds for being in the top 2 are 2.20; for winning the group, 9.50.
Switzerland is a considerably bigger threat to Costa Rica’s plans of upsetting the Group E betting specials even though their official betting odds are only slightly better (top 2: 2.00; winner: 9.00) than those of Serbia. The Vladimir Petkovic-led team has recently climbed to the sixth spot on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings. Still, their performance can be uneven. Case in point: in October 2017, they ruined an impressive qualification campaign by losing to Portugal, whom they have previously defeated in 2016.
Midfielder Xhaka can be especially sloppy: he led the list of most inaccurate passes in the Premier League in November 2017. The Telegraph also points out that Switzerland forwards Xherdan Shaqiri and Admir Mehmedi have had a less than ideal preparation for the World Cup. These factors increase the chances of the underestimated Costa Rican team.
Bet on Costa Rica to be the second best in Group E
Finishing ahead of Brazil might be above Costa Rica but we are expecting them to be in the next stage of the tournament. Our prediction for the exact finishing position is 1. Brazil 2. Costa Rica, for which Unibet Sportsbook gives 7.00 betting odds. We also have a hunch that Serbia will be the team in the bottom place (4.00).