2018 World Cup: Group E Betting Guide

Brazil have a great opportunity to raise their sixth World Cup, but will betting on them produce a valuable return?

All eyes will be on Brazil in Group E at the 2018 World Cup. They are expected to breeze through the group and move into the knockout rounds full of confidence. The real battle should be for second place.

Switzerland, Serbia, and Costa Rica will be fighting to advance. Switzerland is full of recognizable players, Serbia is a resurgent side with a talented midfielder and new manager, and Costa Rica were the surprise of the 2014 World Cup.

The odds listed here will come from Paddy Power with our stage odds and game simulator as the basis for analysis.

Let's get to it.

Safest Bets

Brazil to win the group (4/11): Brazil have the highest probability of winning their group, according to our projections. numberFire's over 90% chance of winning gives one of the most talented teams in the competition a higher probability than the Vegas-implied 73.3% probability. Switzerland's implied probability is only 16.7% percent. Regardless, Brazil winning Group E may be the safest bet in the tournament. They had the best qualifying run in CONMEBOL and were the only team in the federation to breeze to the World Cup. Also, Neymar is back.

Costa Rica to finish last (5/6): After Costa Rica's run in the last World Cup it may not be smart to doubt them, but their age is likely going to catch up with them in this tournament. They are going to play defensively, which should be countered by Brazil's attacking presence and matched by Serbia's solid midfield. Switzerland will have enough faith in Granit Xhaka to break down the back five. The Ticos have very little turnover from 2014 and Keylor Navas was on fire in goal four years ago, but the form of the attacking talent has dipped. Marco Urena of LAFC is the youngest attacker at 28 years old, and he just recently recovered from facial fractures.

Switzerland versus Costa Rica goes under 2.5 goals (4/7): There is a chance that neither team will be eliminated by the time this match takes place on June 27th. As stated, Costa Rica does not have the best attacking talent. Meanwhile, Switzerland will be led by their midfield. Lead attacker Haris Seferovic has not scored since October. Switzerland scored six against Panama in March, but has only scored once in two of their last three games. Costa Rica was recently shut out by Tunisia. Clearly, defense is the strength of both teams, so do not be surprised by a 1-0 final.

Riskier Bets

Handicap draw -2 for Brazil over Switzerland (16/5): Tournament favorites always want to send a message in their opening match. In Brazil's last six matches they have outscored their opponents 12-1 with the last four being clean sheets against other World Cup nations. Brazil are undefeated in their last 17 matches. Switzerland is a good team, but they are not elite. We are only giving them a 5.32% chance of winning the group. Brazil can easily get out by two goals and cruise to victory in their opening match.

Brazil to win every game in 90 minutes to win the World Cup (11/1): Among the new options added to Paddy Power this week are a plethora of prop bets and this one fits well with much of the information given in the bet above. Our projections given Brazil a 52.19% chance of reaching the final. Neymar is tied with Lionel Messi in odds to win the player of the tournament award and that person generally comes from a successful team. Including the 2014 World Cup Final, 62 matches in the competition have gone to extra time with only 5 of those occurring in the final. There have been 64 matches played in each of the last five World Cup competitions respectively. Taking this bet means a trend would be ending. Germany won in extra time in 2014, Spain won in South Africa after a 116th minute goal, and Italy won on penalty kicks in 2006.

Long Shot

Serbia vs. Costa Rica: Adem Ljajic to score the first or last goal (17/2): Current projections have Filip Kostic starting ahead of Ljajic, but it was Kostic that was on the bench to start Serbia's most recent match. Serbia have one more warmup against Bolivia on Saturday, so if Ljajic starts then bet the first goal of the game for the opener against Costa Rica. If not, he will likely be one of the first subs used. During the fall international window Ljajic scored the first goal against China and South Korea. Aleksandar Mitrovic will lead the line for Serbia, but there are plenty of other safe bets in this group. Take a risk on Ljajic to find his fall form.