Two sides coming off impressive debut matches at Russia 2018 will face-off against each other on Friday afternoon in a crucial Group E encounter. Serbia will do battle with Switzerland as both squads look to increase and build off their unbeaten records thus far.
The Serbians were in complete control in their opening match against a lowly Costa Rica side. Though it was only a 1-0 score, it could have easily been much more. Captain Aleksandr Kolarov was excellent in defense, and hammered home a stunning free kick to give his side the victory. Entering their second match, Serbia know the Swiss are tricky but should also have the lofty goal of potentially topping this group. If they can secure another victory here, the talented Serbians have a legitimate shot.
For Switzerland it was a tale of two halves against Brazil. They started slow and seemed content to let Brazil run and pass all over them in the first half, but in the second they netted a great goal off of a corner kick – and then proceeded to take the run of play to Brazil. The Brazilians grew increasingly frustrated with the high press of the Swiss and this disallowed Brazil to mount much of an attack or succeed in effective link-up plays.
This match should be pivotal in deciding who likely advances alongside Brazil in a tough Group E. Both squads can play ultra defensive and it will be intriguing to see the respective tactics from the managers in this one. As always, read on below the odds for a full match preview and betting prediction for Serbia and Switzerland.
Serbia vs. Switzerland Betting Odds:
Over 2 (+100)
Under 2 (-120)
Serbia vs. Switzerland Pick:
Despite the opening match win against Costa Rica, Serbia knows it missed an opportunity to rack up more goals for differential purposes. Though they can play for a draw here against the Swiss – and likely get it, it still forces them to secure a result against a motivated nad skilled Brazilian side in their third and final game. That isn’t an ideal scenario and as a result I think the Serbians will use their talent and skill advantage to try to go out and win this match.
For the Swiss, they are likely content with another draw after holding Brazil in their opening match. This is because they still have to face the group weaklings in Costa Rica, and probably feel confident enough in their attack to be able to beat them by more than a goal like Serbia did. All of these scenarios make for a fascinating tactical encounter.
Serbia will again trot out their 4-2-3-1 formation. It’s an attack-minded group and one that should maintain much of the possession in this match. The Swiss defense fared quite well against Brazil, but at the same time the Brazilians seemed awfully out-of-sync with one another in that match. Serbia will present another stiff test.
Serbia is such an effective team because of their big and dominating midfield. It’s the main reason why they can hang around with any soccer nation in the world. Led by the duo of Nemanja Matic and Luka Milivojevic, that pairing can stifle all sorts of Swiss creativity and control the match by winning balls and distributing to their wealth of skill players up top. Dusan Tadic and Adem Ljajic provide excellent speed and width on the flanks and should be able to stretch the Swiss defense. Serbia also has a rising star in Sergej Milinkovic-Savic who looked lethal at times vs. Costa Rica and is bound to find the back of the net sooner, rather than later.
The big test for Switzerland here is how their backline will handle the height and aggression of the Serbian attack. Their weak-links undoubtedly are the center backs, and Brazil really didn’t pressure them – as much of their attack was geared out wide on the flanks. Serbia will control the middle and look to take the game to you. Though the Swiss have solid wingbacks in Stephan Lichtsteiner and Ricardo Rodriguez, the pairing in the middle of Fabian Schar and Manuel Akanji will get a real test from Savic and Aleksandar Mitrovic. That duo will have a height advantage and don’t be shocked to see Serbia score off a set-piece or header.
I foresee a cagey and tentative affair with both sides likely playing not to lose at first. In the end, I’d expect Serbia’s advantage in both possession and talent to really tilt things in their favor, and if there is a goal in this match – I see it coming from the more attack-minded Serbian side. They have many lethal pieces up front, and despite only scoring one goal against Costa Rica, they generated many more chances.
The bet I am recommending in this fixture is on Serbia PK (Pick’Em) or ‘Draw No Bet.’ This means that if the match ends up in a draw, you push your wager – but if the Serbians do win this match, you win the bet. I can’t see the Swiss mustering much of an attack against Serbia’s defense, and the Serbians know this is not a game they can afford to lose with a stiff test against Brazil still to come.
MY PICK = Serbia PK/Draw No Bet (-122)