Best Bet for Serbia-Switzerland
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Serbia v Switzerland 2 p.m. ET
Over 4.5 Cards at -139
Serbia arrives at the final game in Group G frustrated that even a win is not guaranteed to take them through as they sit at the bottom of the group with just one point from their opening two games. The Eagles were many handicappers' “dark horse” for this tournament and are not out just yet, but they are in a perilous position. They played well for the first hour, keeping Brazil at bay before being overwhelmed by Neymar and friends to lose 2-0. That was no disgrace, but coach Dragan Stojkovic looked shellshocked as they then blew a 3-1 lead to draw 3-3 with Cameroon in their second match, a setback that could prove very costly.
That collapse leaves the Eagles facing an early flight home unless results go their way tomorrow. As someone who has bet the Serbians to qualify in this group, I am hoping for no complacency. A victory against Switzerland will only take them through if they have a better goal difference over Cameroon should Cameroon beat Brazil (which is a big if). It is, of course, highly unlikely Cameroon will beat Brazil, but we have already seen France lose to Tunisia after achieving qualification in this World Cup. If Qatar 2022 has taught us anything, it is that nothing is impossible. Serbia has only itself to blame for being in this situation and can’t afford another slip-up.
Their only injury issue is with Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic, who missed the draw with Cameroon and is racing against the clock to make the starting lineup.
Switzerland sits in second place in the group, and Murat Yakin has seen his side beat Cameroon 1-0 and lose to Brazil by the same score. A goal from Cameroon-born Breel Embolo caused fury in his home country, and he understandably decided against celebrating. Against Brazil, Switzerland defended well and proved difficult for Brazil without Neymar to break them down. They did succumb eventually, but Yakin was full of praise for his players' resolve. The Swiss are not completely in control of their own destiny, but they know a win sees them through, as will a draw provided Brazil beats the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon.
These two sides have recent history in the World Cup, as they met in the Group stages in Russia in 2018. Switzerland won a tight game 2-1 with goals from current captain Granit Xhaka and in the 90th minute with a controversial penalty converted by Xherdan Shaqiri, which caused an uproar in Belgrade.
When qualification is on the line and games are tense and often bad-tempered, I am keen to play the OVERS in yellow cards, which cashed comfortably in last night’s showdown between Mexico and Saudi Arabia with seven cards shown.
Serbia picked up two yellows against Cameroon and three against Brazil and now are in a genuine must-win game, facing criticism from their coach and supporters back home. I fully expect a committed and physical performance from them. The Swiss are in a stronger position in the group but will be as pumped up as Serbia, and they gained two yellows against Cameroon and one against Brazil. This game will be up another notch in terms of intensity from either side's first two games, and if we go back to their meeting in 2018, this bet cashed with five cards. I think the pick here is that it will cash again, as this time around the Serbians will be out for revenge from four years ago. With no love lost between the two teams, this could be one to light the fuse and watch it go off!
Over 4.5 Cards Serbia v Switzerland at -139