Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:03 AM
Matchday 9 - Best Bets
World Cup Betting Results
World Cup: Matchday 9 Betting Preview
Friday, May 22
Group E Table & Results
Brazil vs. Costa Rica (FS1, 8:00 a.m. ET)
Brazil should have been out of sight by half-time of their opening World Cup match against Switzerland. Playing some superb football, Philippe Coutinho put the Seleção ahead, but their momentum was checked in the second half when Switzerland equalised from a set-piece. From then on the game took on the shape of so many at this World Cup: attack vs defence, with defence coming out on top.
Serbia deservedly got the better of Costa Rica, and this Costa Rica side simply does not look as good as the 2014 vintage. They were far less penetrative going forward.
Even though Costa Rica’s opening day defeat means they need to win at least one of their last two games to get through, they will still set up defensively here.
However they are a much less intimidating defensive unit than the organised Swiss. Neymar limping out of training will be a worry for Brazil, but they still have a wealth of attacking talent to choose from should he not start.
Brazil are 2/9 favourites with Costa Rica 18/1. It might not be a thrashing, but Brazil should win.
Prediction: Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica
Top Bet: Brazil to win to nil at 8/13
Group D Table & Results
Nigeria vs. Iceland (FOX, 11:00 a.m. ET)
Apart from Saudi Arabia, Nigeria were the least impressive team in the first round of matches after they put in a dreadful display of bad passing, slow build-up and general lethargy in a 2-0 defeat to a Croatia side who did not need to get out of third gear.
Iceland, meanwhile, put in a predictably inspired performance of grit, togetherness and no shortage of attacking spirit in a 1-1 draw with Argentina at one of the tournament’s best games so far.
Iceland are perfectly suited to tournament football. They are basically a defensive side employing a simple but highly effective strategy. They have enough quality to score goals when needed and their team spirit is probably unrivalled by anyone at this World Cup.
Despite having a populating nearly 1,000 times larger, Nigeria could struggle here and become the third African side to go home after the first two games.
Iceland are perhaps less suited to a game where there is pressure on them to win. But the prices suggest that they and Nigeria are impossible to split. I disagree.
Prediction: Nigeria 0-1 Iceland
Top Bet: Iceland at 21/10
Serbia vs. Swtizerland (FOX, 2:00 p.m. ET)
Group E Table & Results
From the moment the draw for the World Cup was made, Serbia’s match against Switzerland caught the eye as a potential group decider. That has been complicated slightly by Switzerland’s draw with Brazil, but this remains a massive match for both teams.
Both teams’ approaches will depend heavily on whether Brazil beat Costa Rica. If they do, then Switzerland would probably be content with a draw. Serbia, meanwhile, will go for the win with Brazil last up in the group.
Switzerland should never be underestimated. They are less likely to throw in a dreadful performance than Serbia, but Serbia are also more likely to put Switzerland to the sword.
Serbia’s star in the opening match was Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who controlled the match from an advanced midfield position. Their goal came through an Aleksandar Kolarov free-kick, but they also missed a host of chances with Aleksandar Mitrovic especially culpable.
[...]s can barely separate the teams with Serbia 9/5 and Switzerland 19/10. But a draw would be no disaster for either side, and that looks the best value.
Prediction: Serbia 1-1 Switzerland
Top Bet: Draw at 21/10