Thursday World Cup tips: Brazil's stars to outshine Serbian spirit

Tipstrr football expert Sergiu Baltuta suggests Brazil will hit the ground running against a tough attacking Serbia side in their opening fixture of the 2022 World Cup.

Not for the first time, Brazil start a World Cup as firm tournament favourites, which comes as little surprise given the strength in depth of their squad in every department, and they will be looking to make an immediate statement in their opening game.

At the same time, however, it should not be forgotten that they are playing a Serbia team who qualified automatically for the finals by topping a group that included much-fancied Portugal, albeit needing a last-gasp winner in their final encounter to do so, and they should not be under-estimated.

Brazil have not played together since September, when they enjoyed impressive back-to-back wins against Ghana (3-0) and Tunisia (5-1), both of whom are also vying for World Cup glory in Qatar.

Tottenham's striker Richarlison was in superb form in both games, contributing three goals and an assist, and if fit, we can expect him to continue that excellent form, and if he gets some game time on Thursday, the odds on him scoring at any time look tempting.

Alongside him, Neymar has also been in scintillating form this season for PSG, where he has contributed eleven goals and nine assists in fourteen Ligue 1 appearances.

If he reproduces that kind of ratio in Qatar, then he is sure to be a top candidate for both the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot awards.

Serbia come to Qatar with a solid squad that boasts plenty of players with European top-flight experience.

Coach Dragan Stojkovic will be looking to Ajax playmaker Dusan Tadic to pull the creative strings for Juventus striker Vlahovic, who should start up front alongside Aleksandar Mitrovic of Fulham.

Mitrovic missed Serbia's recent 5-1 friendly win against Bahrain with a niggling injury, but if fit he is certain to start, as he looks to replicate the form that has brought 15 goals in 16 outings for club and country since June.

Coincidentally, these two teams were in the same group at the 2018 World Cup in Russia (as indeed were Switzerland) when Brazil ran out comfortable 2-0 winners, but they are likely to need to work a little harder this time around against a Serbian side brimming with confidence and attacking intent.

As firm odds-on favourites for this game, a Brazil win holds little betting appeal, so it might be better to look elsewhere for a more attractive market. 

Given Brazil's adventurous DNA and the potential of Serbia's attacking qualities to exploit any holes left by over-committed Brazilian defenders, the Both Teams To Score bet looks a decent option in itself, and that value could be pushed even further if combined with an expected Brazil win.

Possible starting lineups:

Brazil: Allison - Danilo, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Alex Telles - Casemiro, Fred - Rapinha, Neymar, Vinicius - Richarlison

Serbia: Milinkovic Savic - Veljkovic, Mitrovic, Pavlovic - Zivkovic, Lukic, Ilic, Tadic, Kostic - Mitrovic, Vlahovic

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