Five-time World Cup champion Brazil begin their quest for a sixth trophy when they take on Serbia in the 2022 FIFA World Cup opener for both teams. The Thursday match will be the second of Group G, with Switzerland and Cameroon facing off earlier that day. Brazil are loaded with such stars as Neymar, Richarlison and Vini Jr., and the Brazilians are riding a 15-match unbeaten streak in World Cup group play that dates back to 1998. Meanwhile, Serbia have won just two of their last 10 World Cup matches, having not advanced past the group stage since 1998 in France.
Brazil vs. Serbia spread: Brazil -1.5 (+122)
Brazil vs. Serbia over/under: 2.5 goals
Brazil vs. Serbia money line: Brazil -235, Serbia +650, Draw +340
BRA: The Brazilians have a 26-2 goal advantage during their seven-match win streak
SER: The Serbians have an 18-5 scoring edge on a current six-match unbeaten run
Why you should back Brazil
While Brazil certainly have a historical advantage over Serbia, recent results also favor the Samba Kings. They enter the 2022 FIFA World Cup undefeated this year, winning their last seven games. They are on a 15-match unbeaten streak and have not lost in over a calendar year. Thursday’s match will also be a rematch from the 2018 World Cup group stage in which the Brazilians prevailed 2-0 in a match that Brazil dominated throughout, completing more passes (566) than Serbia even attempted (485).
While the Serbians possess a high-quality attack, they won’t be at full strength with star striker Aleksandar Mitrović recovering from a foot injury. He hasn’t played in nearly a month and will be limited if he can suit up at all. He has 50 international goals while the rest of Serbia’s roster has 67 combined, so the team may look lost without the centerpiece of its attack. Brazil are not the side to be going up against at less than full strength, and the Brazilians are undefeated (9-1-0) in their last 10 World Cup openers.
A Serbia win wouldn’t be as seismic as that Saudi Arabia success but it would deal a major blow to a Brazil side that is under huge pressure back home to deliver a first World Cup in 20 years.
Tite’s side head to Qatar on the back of an almost flawless qualifying campaign that saw them win 14 and draw 3 of their 17 qualification matches. Such was their dominance, they conceded just five goals along the way and racked up 40 at the other end. Brazil were so superior in many of their games that they never even looked like conceding.
Why you should back Serbia
The Serbs reached the quarterfinals in 1990 and the knockout round in 1998, and they enter the World Cup 2022 in excellent form. They finished atop their group at the UEFA Nations League, going 4-1-0 in their last five matches while outscoring their opponents 13-4. Serbia also won their qualifying group, topping a Portugal team that ranks among the world’s top 10. They rallied from two goals down to draw with the Portuguese then pulled out a 2-1 victory in the second meeting, just over a year ago. All the pressure will be on Brazil, and the Serbs have the attacking talent to surprise anyone.
Mitrovic is the star and is joined by 22-year-old Dusan Vlahovic in a potent partnership. Mitrovic is fourth in the Premier League with nine goals after scoring a record 43 last season to help Fulham earn promotion. He has 50 goals in 76 matches for Serbia. Vlahovic has nine goals in 17 international matches and has seven in 15 games with Juventus this season. Captain Dusan Tadic is second in the Durch Eredivisie in shot-creating actions (92) for Ajax, while Sergej Milinkovic-Savic leads Serie A with seven assists for Lazio. There is plenty of quality in attack to pile up goals.
Brazil vs Serbia Prediction
Brazil looked strong defensively through qualifcation and their rearguard has one of the best shields in world football in the shape of Casemiro, but this is a different kettle of fish entirely and Serbia will rightly fancy their chances of causing the favourites major problems.
Brazil have more attacking talent available to them than any other side in the competition and goals will surely be on the agenda in any game they play, but the angle here is to back Serbia to get in on the act.