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FIFA Soccer: World Cup Final

FIFA Soccer: World Cup Final 4 months 4 weeks ago #486060

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Betting news, trends, odds and predictions from various handicappers and websites for Sunday 7/15/18
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FIFA Soccer: World Cup Final 4 months 4 weeks ago #486061

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Well, this isn't the World Cup final anyone predicted, but it should be an entertaining affair as France looks to dispatch a Croatian side that has bucked the odds to reach its first-ever World Cup title match Sunday at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

France entered the tournament at +700 to win the title at most betting sites, and is a whopping -106 against Croatia after slipping past Belgium 1-0 in the semifinals. Croatia entered as a +3,500 long shot, but is one win away from making good after rallying to beat England 2-1 in the other semi.
QUICK-HITTER

The World Cup final generally starts as a cautious affair as players deal with the nerves of being on the largest stage of their lives. There has been just two goals scored in the opening 20 minutes of a World Cup final since 1978, and both of those came in the 2006 title game between Italy and France. That also means meaningful set pieces should be at a premium in the early going.

It isn't the sexiest quick-hitter on the board, but the chances are great that a throw-in will be the first set piece of the game.

PREDICTION: First set piece (0:00-4:59): throw-in (-125)

This World Cup featured more than its share of goal-heavy matchups and thrilling moments, but France and Croatia got this far largely on the strength of their respective defenses. And while both teams have struggled at times at the back end, France has posted back-to-back clean sheets while Croatia held England off the board for the final 115-plus minutes of their semifinal.

Those two early tallies in the 2006 final represent the only first-half goals scored in a World Cup final in the 21st Century. We believe that trend will continue in what could be a first half light on quality scoring chances.

PREDICTION: 0-0 first-half score (+125)
TEAM/PLAYER BET

Give this much to the Croatians: they aren't afraid to make a hard tackle. Of the four teams to have played six games at this World Cup, Croatia has easily committed the most fouls of the quartet (101). By comparison, the French have been whistled just 79 times. Predictably, the Croatians have also accrued more yellow cards, with 14 compared to France's 10.

It would be folly for the Croatians to stray from what has worked, which means plenty of hard challenges on France's skill players. And that will almost certainly give them the edge in yellow cards when all is said and done.

PREDICTION: Croatia with the most bookings
FULL-GAME SIDE

Didier Deschamps' side hasn't looked like a World Cup champion over the course of the tournament, but oddsmakers believe in Les Bleus. And with France having played far less football than its counterpart heading into the final, those fresh legs could make a major difference. Croatia has gone 120 minutes in every elimination game, and could struggle to keep pace in the second half.

Combine the freshness edge with the scoring exploits of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, both of whom should give the Croatian fits, and you have the recipe for a narrow French victory.

PREDICTION: Draw/France halftime/fulltime victory (+333)
FULL-GAME TOTAL

This game will likely bear little resemblance to the third-place game between Belgium and England, which takes place in St. Petersburg Saturday. The consolation match has produced an average of 4.1 goals over the previous 10 World Cups. The same absolutely cannot be said for the final, which has seen just 10 total goals scored in the previous seven championship matches.

If either team goes ahead, it will be exceedingly difficult for its opponent to counter. And while the Croatians have come from behind in all three of their elimination matches, this French defense is a daunting foe. We see this one being decided by a goal. Literally.

PREDICTION: Under 1.5 goals (+137)
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FIFA Soccer: World Cup Final 4 months 4 weeks ago #486062

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Bettors firing on favored France vs. upstart Croatia in World Cup final
By: Patrick Everson

A month after the World Cup began, the tournament comes to a close with Sunday’s championship match. Covers checks in on the action and odds movement, with insights from John Murray, sportsbook director at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, and Lee Price, spokesman for Ireland-based Paddypower.com.
Croatia vs. France

France isn’t necessarily a surprise participant in this 11 a.m. ET showdown, having won the tournament in 1998, finishing as runner-up in 2006 and reaching the quarterfinals four years ago. Short of a very tough Round of 16 game against Argentina – a 4-3 victory – Les Bleus haven’t faced much trouble, shutting out four of six foes.

In Tuesday’s semifinal against Belgium, France won 1-0 as a modest +155 favorite in three-way action, with Samuel Umtiti scoring in the 51st minute.


Croatia, however, is a surprise playing in its first-ever championship game, after taking 19th four years ago. But the relative newcomer as a country has World Cup history against France, losing 2-1 in the 1998 semifinals and ultimately finishing third. This year, Croatia went 3-0 in group play, then advanced in either extra time or penalty kicks in all three knockout stage games.

On Wednesday against England, the Croatian side fell behind 1-0 just five minutes in off a free-kick goal, but Ivan Perisic equalized in the 68th minute. In extra time, Mario Mandzukic put the ball in the onion bag in the 109th minute, and Croatia held on for a 2-1 victory as a +288 underdog.

The Superbook is seeing action in all three game-related aspects: three-way of 90 minutes plus stoppage time; two-way of France -0.5 goals/Croatia +0.5 goals in 90 minutes plus stoppage; and the two-way “to lift the trophy” option, which includes extra time and penalty kicks.

“It’s a lot of all those, mostly on France,” Murray said. “We’ve got sharp play in the three-way price, particularly from one player who’s done pretty well in the tournament. A lot of people taking France minus a half-goal and France to win outright. It’s been a steady stream of money on France ever since we opened it, and I expect that to continue through (Sunday) morning.”

France at -0.5 goals opened -105 and was bet up as high as -130 before ticking back to -125 on Saturday afternoon. In three-way, France opened -105, Croatia +400 and the draw +225, and those numbers moved to -130, +410 and +245 respectively. To lift the trophy, France was bet from -210 to -250, with Croatia correspondingly moving from +175 to +200.

“A lot of people are doing parlays that end with France lifting the trophy,” Murray said. “It’s similar to football season, when a lot parlays end with the ‘Monday Night Football’ favorite on the moneyline.”

Across the pond at PaddyPower.com, the three-way line has remained fairly steady, with France -110, Croatia +350 and the draw +225. Likewise, France has stuck around -225 to lift the trophy, with Croatia +175.

PaddyPower and its bookmaking peers in Ireland and the United Kingdom really have nothing to lose Sunday, already averting the huge blow of England hoisting the trophy.

“Since France’s defeat of Belgium, the money has come for France,” Price said. “But given their odds-on price, and the England loss averted, the money men in Power Tower won’t be singing the blues if the cup goes to Les Bleus.”

And although Croatia has needed extra time in all three knockout stage games, oddsmakers don’t like the Croatian side's chances of duplicating the extra-time win over England. PaddyPower’s “to win in extra time” option has France +750 and Croatia more than double that at +1800.

“Once again, we appear to be writing off Croatia’s chances if the game goes to extra time, despite their track record so far during these knockout stages,” Price said. “Perhaps it is a step too far for them, and certainly, it’s a step up in opposition, but it’s not as though France haven’t lost in a final they were expected to win fairly recently.”

Back in Vegas, Murray said that while the Superbook will need Croatia on the game itself, his shop comes out just fine no matter which side wins or how that win occurs.

“We’re in such a good future-book position. We’re going to start the day with a big head start,” he said. “We’re going to try to write a little more on Croatia, but we’re going to be fine either way.”
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