Costa Rica v Serbia Predictions, Betting Tips and Previews

June 13, 2018

- Grant Whittington

Samara Arena - World Cup Group E

Sunday provides a first look at one of the dark horses of the group, as Serbia come up against 2014's surprise package, Costa Rica. Oscar Ramirez's side might not have the big names of their opponents but is full of pace and creativity to match Serbia's strength.

Past Meetings

Sunday will be the side's first meeting on the international stage, as the two have rarely competed in the same competitions.

Team News

Oscar Ramirez has a tough decision whether to start Marco Urena, who scored twice in qualifiers, or Johan Venegas, who has been in good form in recent friendlies. Other than that, the XI virtually picks itself, with their star player Kaylor Navas in goal, and former Premier League players Joel Campbell, Bryan Ruiz and Bryan Oviedo outfield.

Mladen Krstajić appears to have settled on his starting XI, many of whom are in phenomenal form going into the competition. Aleksandsr Mitrovic recently fired Fulham to promotion, whilst Luka Milelojic reached double figured from defensive midfield for Crystal Palace and Aleksandar Kolarov won signing of the season for Roma.

Costa Rica v Serbia Preview and Predictions

Despite progressing to the World Cup quarter finals in 2014, Costa Rica start this year's competition, once again, as the underdogs in a difficult group E. Brazil and Switzerland, who kick-off at 21.00, are both considered superior to Los Ticos, as are their opponents Serbia.

Krstakić's side's qualified for the World Cup top of their group, over the likes of Wales, Austria and the Republic of Ireland, and yet did so relatively under the radar. In spite of this, a quick look at the Serbian squad shows a vast array of talent, capable of not just their standard defensive solidity, but of creativity at the other end of the pitch. The recalled Adem Ljajic on the left-wing is capable of producing the sublime, whilst Dustan Tadic may have underperformed for Southampton but is unplayable on his day.

However, perhaps the most significant player for Serbia this tournament will be Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. The midfielder had a break-out season for Lazio this year, and has earned comparisons to Paul Pogba for his combination of strength and technical ability. Likely to play as a withdrawn number 10, SMS is the perfect compliment to Nemanja Matic in midfield, forming a near-unsurpassable barrier.

Costa Rica's best chance therefore is to attack down the flanks, which suits them well. With the talented duo of Campbell and Ruiz on either side, they should be able to exploit Serbia's attack-minded wingers, as well as the ageing Kolarov. Ramirez will hope that whoever he fields up front will be able to convert the chances that these two make, although with Branislav Ivanovic marshalling the defence, Los Ticos may struggle.

Recommended Bets

Milinkovic-Savic to score anytime at 3/1

As good in the air as he is with his feet, the midfielder will be a threat.

Serbia to win to nil at 15/8

Regardless of their improved front line Serbia are still strong defensively.

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