Brazil v Costa Rica: South Americans can bag first win in Saint Petersburg
Jack Lang expects Tite's side to kickstart their campaign against limited opponents on Friday...
"10 of Brazil's 17 victories under Tite have been either 2-0 or 3-0, and given the likelihood that Costa Rica will make things tough for the Seleção early on, this is unlikely to be a rout"
Brazil v Costa Rica
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Seleção eyeing maximum points
Brazil were not immune to the main trend of the first round of World Cup matches: they, like most of the other pre-tournament favourites, failed to truly impress in their tournament opener.
For 20 minutes, all looked positive: the Seleção pressed and attacked with real intent, took a deserved lead. But just when they should have been tightening their grip on the match, they fell back, allowing Switzerland a foothold and eventually an equaliser.
Yes, Steven Zuber's goal might have been ruled out for a push on Miranda. Yes, Brazil created a flurry of chances in the last 10 minutes. But none of that takes away from the fact that they were flatter than expected and have a good deal of improving to do. Neymar, especially, looks like he'll have to grow into the tournament as he builds up his fitness.
Now or never for gritty Ticos
Costa Rica played well against Serbia, defending with grit and springing forward with admirable conviction when the opportunity arose. Had Giancarlo González had his shooting boots on, Los Ticos might have been two goals to the good by half-time.
As it was, they were made to pay for their profligacy, and now have a mountain to climb if they are to repeat their 2014 heroics and make it out of the group. A circumspect approach is still likely in the opening stages, but they'll probably have to come out of their shell at some stage, which could favour their opponents.
Solid Brazil win in store?
Brazil have won nine of the last 10 meetings between the sides, including two at World Cups, and are rated as strong favourites on Friday: [1.23] is the price for the Seleção to kickstart their campaign with a win. That looks the most likely outcome against a spirited but limited side, who look ill-equipped to battle their way back into the game if Brazil take the lead.
But given the likelihood that Costa Rica will make things tough for the Seleção early on, this is unlikely to be a rout. 10 of Brazil's 17 victories under Tite have been either 2-0 or 3-0, and splitting one's stake across those scorelines on the Correct Score market yields odds of around 3.49.
Paulinho a threat for Tite's side
Los Ticos will probably take their cue from Switzerland when it comes to dealing with Neymar: Brazil's talisman was fouled 10 times on Sunday night and only had his first shot after 77 minutes. And with Gabriel Jesus also likely to find the going tough against three centre-backs, the Seleção may again have to look to their midfield for a breakthrough.
Philippe Coutinho's shooting from range could be crucial, but we prefer the look of Paulinho on the goalscorer market at [4.3]. He came within inches of netting against Switzerland and should be free to make plenty of runs into the area given that Costa Rica won't be pushing Brazil back too much.
Jack Lang's World Cup P/L
Opta Stats for Brazil v Costa Rica
Brazil have won nine of their 10 previous internationals against Costa Rica, losing only in a friendly in March 1960. They are [1.23] to win.
This is the third meeting between Brazil and Costa Rica at the World Cup, with the former inflicting Costa Rica’s first ever defeat at the tournament in 1990 (1-0), before a 5-2 victory in 2002. Brazil are [1.75] to win half-time/full-time.
Costa Rica’s only previous World Cup victory against South American opposition came in the 2014 tournament (3-1 vs Uruguay). They are [20.0] to pull off a shock win.
Philippe Coutinho’s goal against Switzerland was his 11th for Brazil – five of those have come from outside the box. Coutinho is [2.7] to find the net.
Costa Rica lost their first match against Serbia, ending a five-game unbeaten run at the World Cup finals – they haven’t lost back to back World Cup games since June 2006, when they lost four in a row. You can back them to bounce back with a draw at [7.0].
Brazil are winless in three World Cup matches (D1 L2), their worst run since June 1978, when they went four matches without a win. You can lay Brazil at [1.24].
Against Serbia, striker Marco Ureña had just 14 touches in 67 minutes for Costa Rica, with three of those in the opposition box – his replacement, Joel Campbell, had 24 touches and four in the opposition box. Under 2.5 goals is [2.18].
Brazil conceded from the first shot on target they faced at the 2018 World Cup – from their last 13 shots on target faced at the World Cup, they have conceded 10 goals. Both teams to score is [2.94].
Costa Rica have scored with just one of their last 31 shots at the World Cup. Brazil are [1.67] to win to nil.
Brazil’s Neymar was fouled 10 times in their opening match against Switzerland – it was the most a player has been fouled in a World Cup match since 1998, when England striker Alan Shearer was fouled 11 times against Tunisia. The odds of there being a sending off in the match are [5.0].
Dutch back Brazil 2-0 and 3-0 at [3.5]