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FIFA Soccer: World Cup Final & 3rd Place

FIFA Soccer: World Cup Final & 3rd Place 2 months 1 week ago #486001

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Betting news, trends, odds and predictions from various handicappers and websites for Saturday 7/14/18
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FIFA Soccer: World Cup Final & 3rd Place 2 months 1 week ago #486002

  • Shazman
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July 13, 2018
By Toby Maxtone-Smith


World Cup: Final and 3rd Place Playoff Betting Preview

Saturday, July 14
Belgium vs. England (FOX, 10:00 a.m. ET)

Remarkably this is the second dead rubber of this World Cup between England and Belgium after the pair played out a 1-0 win to Belgium in their final group game. That game was the reason Belgium found themselves in the difficult half of the draw and England in the easy half.

Nobody needs this match, and it remains something of an irritation to the countries and teams involved in it. Both teams are likely to make lots of changes. Anyone carrying the slightest hint of an injury will not be risked.

England went into that previous dead rubber as narrow favourites, and so it is surprising to see Belgium as short as 6/5 to win this match, even though it will be England who will be more devastated about failing to reach the final.

England are 21/10 with the draw 13/5. This, historically, has been a high-scoring game, but even given that, the draw may be the best option even though absolutely no-one will want to play that extra half hour of football.

One better angle here may be to look at Romelu Lukaku’s attempt to overhaul Harry Kane for the Golden Boot. Lukaku bagged two braces against Tunisia and Panama but has not hit the target since.

England may well be playing a new-look back-line and they looked more and more jittery as the Croatia match went on.

Lukaku may not score the hat-trick needed to win the Golden Boot. But he looks good value to score first.

Prediction: Belgium 2-1 England
Top Bet: Romelu Lukaku to score first at 7/2

Sunday, July 15
France vs. Croatia (FOX, 11:00 a.m. ET)

Both teams scored in all the first 12 World Cup finals (only including the first 90 minutes). But since the 1990 final in Italy, the results of World Cup finals in 90 minutes have gone: 1-0, 0-0, 3-0, 2-0, 1-1, 0-0, 0-0 - a measly eight goals in seven games. And even though, on paper, both France and Croatia’s attack is their strength, expect another cautious, low-scoring final. France go into the game as 10/11 favourites to win the match in 90 minutes. Croatia are 4/1 with the draw 23/10.

France are 2/5 to lift the trophy with Croatia 2/1.

Reaching the biggest stage in world football represents a fantastic achievement for Croatia, a country of just 4 million people. Despite going playing three sets of 120 minutes, it was England, rather than Zlatko Dalic’s men, who tired in the second semi-final.

They have vast experience in their side. Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic and, of course, Luka Modric, have won it all at club level. Ivan Perisic, Dejan Lovren and keeper Danijel Subasic are no strangers to the biggest stage either.

But France just look a bit too good for them. They have improved as the tournament has gone on. Didier Deschamps’s big tactical calls have all come off.

Crucially, when France go ahead, it is very difficult to get back into the game. The centre-back partnership of Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti has been stunning. And on the one occasion they did let a team back into the game, in the 4-3 win over Argentina, France showed they can go through the gears by scoring three goals in 15 minutes.

Deschamps has managed to get the best out of Paul Pogba, while N’golo Kanté shields the defence unbelievably well. Benjamin Pavard, a surprise selection at right-back before the tournament, is now being linked with the best clubs in the world.

Antoine Griezmann flits between the lines fantastically. And then, of course, there is Kylian Mbappé, who is surely fighting it out with Luka Modric for the player of the tournament. Croatia have shown real spirit to get this far, and you should write them off at your peril. It is unlikely they will get thrashed.

If you do fancy them, the best way might be to back them to win on penalties at 10/1. Subasic has looked intimidatingly good when facing down penalty-takers. And in shootouts the Croatians’ experience may prove crucial.

It would be a wonderful story if this small, football-obsessed nation won the World Cup. But they will probably fall just short.

Prediction: France 1-0 Croatia
Top Bet: France at 10/11
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