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Costa Rica vs Serbia
2018 FIFA World Cup, Group E, Match 10, June 17, fulltime
|Cosmos Arena, Samara|
A wonder strike from Serbian captain Aleksandar Kolarov has allowed a vital three points to be snatched in their opening Group E clash against Costa Rica.
Costa Rica struggled to get into the game during the first half, having less than 40 per cent possession when the players headed for the sheds, but it was a scoreless first half.
A free kick in the 56th minute, taken by Kolarov from well outside the penalty area, will go down as one of the goals of the tournament, with a somewhat dysfunctional Costa Rican attack then failing to level the game, despite having multiple opportunities late in the piece.
Costa Rica 0
Group E at the 2018 FIFA World Cup gets underway with a match which could knock one team out before their tournament even begins as Costa Rica take on Serbia. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 10pm (AEST).
With Brazil and Switzerland the other two teams in the group, it becomes something of a group of death for Costa Rica and Serbia, both of whom could have been favourites to progress in other groups.
Neither are expected to fare well against the other teams in the group, but any chance of qualifying to the Round of 16 will require them to go on the attack here and win. Three points are crucial, as is goal difference, so both teams should come out firing in what could be an entertaining match.
Costa Rica have played three warm-up matches before heading to Russia, and while it started well with a big win over Northern Ireland, they struggled badly against England and Belgium.
Their loss to Belgium in particular was concerning, with four goals ran in as they struggled at the back, but it’s their attack which they will rely on in this match.
Captain Bryan Ruiz is the danger man, with 24 goals at international level.
Serbia, on the other hand, will be under all sorts of pressure in this one. Ranked 34th in the World Cup, they managed to qualify, but have low expectations about what they might be able to achieve at the Cup, with this first match against their Central American rivals likely to tell us plenty.
Across the last two international windows, their form has been patchy, but when they get it right, they have been hard to stop.
Thier final match before the beginning of the World Cup saw a 5-1 win over Bolivia, although losses to Chile and Morocco leave plenty of questions about where they are really at.
Striker Aleksandar Mitrović is the key man. He has been strong playing for Fulham this year, out on loan from Newcastle, but there is a considerable step up between the English second division and the World Cup.
Costa Rica’s form line is a bit up, down and all over the place, but they can score goals against lower ranked opposition. I expect them to get the better of this game.
Costa Rica 2 – Serbia 1.
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