Brazil vs Costa Rica (22, June 2018 by 1pm)
Brazil struggled against a very disciplined Switzerland side in their World Cup opener last weekend, widely tipped as likely winner of the tournament in Russia, Brazil took the lead through a beauty of a curler by veteran long range shot expert, Phillippe Coutinho but were pegged back by Switzerland to end the game 1:1. The feelers from the Brazilian camp pinned the blames at the altar of the negative approach from the Swiss who never gave Neymar any form of breathing space on the ball as the PSG forward was fouled ten times, Costa Rica is up next, a fearless team that were quite unlucky to lose to Serbia on day one after giving it everything they had. Brazil are clear favourites here but this is the world cup, lightening can strike against the Jogo Bonito warriors again but they will do everything needed to circumvent that, they must, they lie second behind Serbia and wouldn’t risk anything as every game means everything. Key man remains Neymar, Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus would take pressure off him but he certainly will get a goal he deserves here, he ran off injury sustained in training in midweek to appear fit for this; at the back, Brazil looks solid, Thiago Silva and Miranda are flanked by Danilo and the celebrity left back, Marcelo who are goal threats on their own. Costa Rica will have to bid their time, they won’t see much of the ball, but when they do, they must make good use of it, they will get a chance or two, when they do they must take it.
Verdict: Brazil to win
Nigeria vs Iceland (22, June 2018 by 4pm)
So much has been said about the crowned Slay Kings of the ongoing FIFA world cup, the Super Eagles of Nigeria, so many new coaches have emerged with diverse tactics that coach Gernot Rorh could have deployed against Croatia, from every nook and cranny of the world, social media is filled with formations and you wonder why the job was handed to the tactician in the first place; Yes Nigeria lost to Croatia but it could have been different considering they conceded an own goal and a penalty, moving forward, so many doomsday predictions went flying after seeing the energy of the Icelandic players against pre-tournament favourites Argentina, little did they know that in football, no two games are the same, Iceland will come defensive and look to create problems on the counter majorly through Everton playmaker, Gylfi Sigurdsson, both sides need a win so sitting deep won’t help either side, Nigeria wants it more and that’s what would determine where the pendulum swings, whatever the manager decides to do with the line up, it’s up to him, he could revert to the three man defence that worked during early friendlies or stick to the four that failed against Croatia, Iceland is a different opposition, John Mikel Obi didn’t deliver behind the striker, Alex Iwobi or Kelechi Iheanacho should be operating there, Mikel should sit deep with Ndidi while Etebo, if called on roams around tirelessly like he did in his Las Palmas days, chances would be created by either sides, taking them when they come would be the deciding factor. For the Super Eagles, they must get their acts together with set pieces; it’s time to make the fans and the continent happy.
Verdict: Nigeria to win
Serbia vs Switzerland (22, June 2018 by 7pm)
Two bogey teams square up, who would have thought that the Swiss Army would get a point against the highly rated Brazilians? Not many but they did it and did it expertly, now they face a team that doesn’t concede much, though they don’t score too many either. This would be won and lost in the middle of the pack, fast rising midfielder, probably the most sought after in Europe right now, Sergei Milinkovic- Savic and Nemanja Mantic up against Granit Xhaka, Valon behrami and Zuber, likes for likes, they have to cancel things out, chances would be created but it’s left to how well either forwards can convert. Serbia did well to beat Costa Rica with a brilliant fierce free kick off the boots of captain Aleksander Kolarov, the Roma full back blasted home to hand Serbia the lead in the group and they now must protect the lead, bearing in mind that they play Brazil next and whatever happens here would have a bearing on their chances of making it to the next round, four points might just not be enough, of course except they expect to pick a point from clear favourites Brazil.
Verdict: Switzerland to win or draw
Strictly the writer’s opinion… bet responsibly
Abimbola Ramsey (@komptrolla on twitter)