Brazil came into the World Cup as the bookies favourites, as they often do, but their first outing in Russia certainly didn’t help their chances of lifting the trophy in July. They only managed a 1-1 draw against Switzerland, and not many could argue that they deserved to win that game.
They looked in control after opening the scoring via a wonder strike from Phillipe Coutinho, but Switzerland held firm against their prestigious opponents and weathered the storm. Their man marking of Brazil’s danger men was very impressive, and they got their reward shortly after the break when they levelled the scores.
Obviously Brazil will be disappointed to not get off to a winning start, but they will still be confident in their abilities. They have one of the most lethal attacking forces in the world right now, and they know that Costa Rica’s defensive ability isn’t quite on the same level as Switzerland’s.
One potential issue is a recent injury sustained by Neymar. The Brazilian talisman was fouled ten times against Switzerland, which happens to be the most times a player has been fouled in a World Cup match since 1998. These challenges have apparently taken their toll as well, with Neymar limping out of training earlier this week and now being classed as a doubt.
Should he miss out, Phillipe Coutinho is expected to be pushed into his role on the left side of the attack. His striker against Switzerland was a stunning shot, and he has now scored three goals in Brazil’s last five games. We think he’s great value for our anytime goalscorer predictions, and even more so if Neymar doesn’t make the starting lineup.
Costa Rica were hugely impressive four years ago as they topped the apparent group of death in Brazil, but their opener against Serbia wasn’t anywhere near the same level. They were completely devoid of ideas going forward and couldn’t handle the growing talent of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, so they could really struggle against the stars of Brazil.
They conceded four against Belgium in one of their World Cup warm up matches and shipped five against Spain last November, and now they face a Brazil side who have scored 16 goals in their last eight games and largely against better opposition than Costa Rica. In each of Costa Rica’s last six defeats they have been behind at the break too, so we like the look of a Brazil Half-Time/Full-Time result here.
With Costa Rica conceding so many to the top teams we also think a Brazil Over 3.5 Team Goals bet is good value for money, along with a 4-0 correct score predictions.
Brazil Predicted Lineup: Alisson, Danilo, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo, Paulinho, Casemiro, Renato Augusto, Willian, Coutinho, Jesus
Costa Rica Predicted Lineup: Navas, Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte, Gamboa, CAlvo, Borges, Guzman, Ruiz, Bolanos, Urena
Brazil have won nine of their last ten games against Costa Rica, with their only loss coming back in 1960 in a friendly. In the World Cup the two nations have met twice before, with Brazil winning both.
Fred is a doubt for Brazil coming into this game, but the main concern is with their star player. Neymar limped out of training with a suspected ankle problem earlier this week and is a doubt for the game, an absence that could push Phillipe Coutinho into a wider position in the attack.
Christian Bolanos is hoping to push his way into the starting lineup after impressing from the bench against Serbia, but apart from that Costa Rica are expected to field an identical starting eleven.