By Anis Bazza
Last Updated: 19th June 2018
Costa Rica vs Serbia sees a first meeting ever between the surprise team of the 2014 World Cup, and a recently resurgent Serbian outfit.
Serbia missed the last World Cup and Euros but return this year with a potent and very gifted squad. Nemanja Matic, rising Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Adem Ljajic provide a solid midfield base while Southampton playmaker Dusan Tadic recorded 7 assists in 2018 World Cup qualifying, bettered only by Joshua Kimmich’s 9.
“We haven’t played well during the past four to eight years and have skipped the major tournaments like the Euros and the World Cup, which is why people stopped believing in the country’s national team,” said Liverpool midfielder Marko Grujic, who was on loan with Cardiff last season.
“But now I can feel that the feeling is coming back among the fans and the people of Serbia.”
Costa Rica will be hoping to draw on their positive experience at the last World Cup with most the side still intact and similar tactics set to be deployed by coach Oscar Ramirez. That side beat Italy, Uruguay and England to top a group in unlikely fashion before failing at the last eight hurdle against the Netherlands. In fact Costa Rica have kept 3 clean sheets in their last 4 games at the World Cup. However recent form has not been kind with a heavy 4-1 defeat to Belgium before another loss to England.
Serbian forward Aleksandar Mitrovic, fresh from his 12-goal loan spell at Fulham last season, will be hoping to capitalise and build on his hat-trick against Bolivia last week. Aleksandar Mitrovic to score and Serbia to win is 9/4.
Mitrovic’s 14 goals in his last 18 games for Serbia should give his national side enough confidence to start their World Cup perfectly. Serbia to win by 2 or more goals is 3/1.
Anis grew up supporting Manchester City but found joy and solace across Europe’s major football leagues. Increasingly passionate about NBA, he is interested in and has written extensively about many different aspects of sport across the years, previously working at Sky Sports News and Sport360 newspaper in Dubai. He studied Sport Journalism at University but spent a large portion of his academic years building City Watch instead - the largest independent Manchester City Twitter account and website.