15th of June 2018 Author: Johnny Karp
Costa Rica and Serbia start their 2018 World Cup on Sunday at Cosmos Arena in Samara with a match that could be crucial in the fight for qualification from Group D. Costa Rica and Serbia are in the same group as mighty Brazil, while Switzerland will also compete for one of the two qualifying places. These two national teams have never met before. Costa Rica have participated in four World Cup final tournaments before, while Serbia have taken part in twelve tournaments, even though they entered most of them as Yugoslavia before the 1990s and then as Serbia and Montenegro before 2010.
Costa Rica had a huge impact at the previous World Cup, they surprised everybody at Brazil 2014 as they went all the way through to the quarter-finals and lost on penalties against the Netherlands. That was the very first time that Costa Rica got past the group stage at a World Cup final tournament. After that memorable performance Costa Rica managed to reach the quarter-finals at the Gold Cup in 2015 and the semi-finals in 2017, while their World Cup qualification campaign ended with a second place behind Mexico in the final North and Central American group. They lost three of their five friendly matches this year, but the last two defeats were against very strong teams like England and Belgium.
Serbia have failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, while at the 2010 final tournament they managed to beat mighty Germany but lost to Ghana and Australia and failed to qualify from the group stage. The last time Serbia had a notable performance at the World Cup was all the way back in 1990, when they reached the quarter-finals while competing as Yugoslavia. Serbia had a pretty tough qualifying group and did well to finish ahead of Ireland, Wales and Austria, but this year's friendly matches produced mixed results.
Costa Rica: Navas - Gamboa, Gonzalez, Acosta, Duarte, Oviedo - Ruiz, Borges, Guzman, Bolanos - Urena
Serbia: Stojkovic - Rukavina, Ivanovic, Tosic, Kolarov - Matic, Milinkovic-Savic - Tadic, Ljajic, Kostic - Mitrovic
My prediction: Serbia to win 3-1, Costa Rica don't seem capable of repeating their 2014 performances.
Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:
Costa Rica win - 5.00
Draw - 3.30
Serbia win - 1.90
29th of June 2018
5th of July 2018
Serbia won that one 1-0 after a fabulous free-kick from Kolarov who is well known for his set-pieces skills.
It wasn't a great match or easy win for the Serbs but they managed to do enough against an opponent who was one of the weakest teams at this World Cup, I think we've seen that from their overall performance subsequently.
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