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Brazil vs Serbia World Cup Odds, Pick, Prediction | World Cup Match Preview

Brazil vs Serbia World Cup Odds, Pick, Prediction | World Cup Match Preview article feature image
Credit:

Eurasia and James Williamson/Getty. Pictured: Neymar and Dusan Tadic.

  • Brazil open their World Cup campaign with a fixture against Serbia.
  • Will they be able to secure all three points?
  • BJ Cunningham previews the match and gives his best bet.

Brazil vs. Serbia Odds

Thursday, Nov. 24
2 p.m. ET
FOX
Brazil Odds -200
Serbia Odds +550
Draw +320
Over/Under 2.5 (-138 / +110)
Both Teams to Score (Yes/No) (-110 / -110)
Odds via bet365. Get the latest World Cup odds here.

World Cup favorites Brazil kick off their tournament on Thursday when they take on Serbia.

Brazil are one of the most talented teams in the World Cup field, but they haven’t brought home the World Cup trophy since 2002, so pressure has been mounting for a while now. They are heavy favorites to win Group G, but they need to get all three points against Serbia if they are likely to do so.

Serbia are back in the World Cup for the second straight time, after impressively winning their World Cup Qualifying group over Portugal. This Serbian team has a wealth of talent, especially in attack, and they’ll definitely make life difficult on Brazil. The question is, will their defense be able to hold up?

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Brazil Head Into World Cup With High Hopes

Brazil finished atop South American World Cup Qualifying, winning 14 of their 17 matches. Their only loss since the 2018 World Cup in a non-friendly match came in the 2021 Copa America final against Argentina.

What has been most impressive about Brazil since the 2018 World Cup has been their defense. Brazil have averaged 2.12 xG per 90 minutes in World Cup Qualifying and Copa America, which is to be expected given their attacking talent, but their defense only allowed 0.74 xG per 90 minutes, which is incredibly impressive given the attacking talent across South America. 

Tite has been at the hem of Brazil since 2016, and by now it’s pretty clear what Brazil’s tactics are. They are going to play out of a 4-3-3, but the team’s shape with change throughout the match.

It’s also very clear that Brazil want to play a possession-based style, valuing control over everything. Brazil like to use a lot of combination passing to move the ball up the field and rarely will play a long ball.

They averaged over 500 passes per 90 minutes this year and only a little over 5% of them were long balls. In fact, they averaged more lateral passes per match than forward passes. That type of combination passing is going to be huge against Serbia’s high pressure. 

Often when Brazil is in possession they use a positional-based system that has allowed them to be much more structured. They also love to push the two wide midfielders up the pitch and squeeze the two wingers close to Neymar, which essentially creates a 3-2-5 with one of the two full backs pressing up to create a double pivot with Casemiro. 

Out of possession, Brazil press very aggressively as Tite wants them to win the ball back as soon as possible. The press in unison with a high block seeks to overwhelm the opposing center backs and midfielders into a mistake so they can quickly transition into a counterattack with the pace they have up front.

Serbia an Underrated Power

Serbia tend to rely quite a bit on set pieces and crosses to generate offense with the striking duo of Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Vlahovic in the box.

They have outstanding midfielders in Sergej Milinković-Savić and Dusan Tadic, who can unlock the opponent’s defense with a single pass, but the ultimate goal is to get the ball out wide to either Filip Kostic or Andrija Zivkovic to swing crosses into the two forwards. 

Serbia typically like to go with three at the back and they can play a low block if necessary, but their system is pretty reliant on the intensity of their press, which lends itself to the overall nature of the Serbian philosophy. That is to be more physical and out-work your opponent.

However, they aren’t as disciplined and aren’t really tactically sound to sit in a low block for a majority of the match, which creates a lot of open matches. 

Serbia didn’t play at the Euros, but they did win their World Cup qualifying group that included Portugal and Ireland. Their matches during World Cup Qualifying averaged 3.1 xG, highlighting how open they typically like to play. 

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Brazil vs. Serbia Pick

With how open Serbia typically likes to keep games, that is going to leave way too much space for the most talented attacking team in the World.

Plus, the weakness of Serbia is their back three, and if Brazil go ahead, Serbia are not the type of team to just sit back and look to counter. Rather, they are going to press relentlessly trying to get back in the match. On the flip side, Serbia have a plethora of outstanding attackers that can really penetrate the Brazil back line, particularly up the flanks where Brazil is weakest.

I have 2.99 goals projected for this match, so I like the value on the over.

The Pick: Over 2.5 (-138) 

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