What a thrilling round of quarter finals it was in the FIFA World Cup over the weekend! France, Belgium, England and Croatia all advanced through to the semi finals set to be played this Wednesday and Thursday morning respectively and we take a look at both big matchups and provide our betting tips below.
We hit on two out of three bets in our quarter finals preview and we’ll be hoping for two more winners today!
In what many think is the stronger semi final out of the two, the odds suggest that the eventual winner is likely to come from this matchup. Both Belgium and France were fantastic in their quarter final games against Uruguay and Brazil respectively, winning in normal time to punch their ticket in the semi finals.
France recorded a 2-0 win as Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann both found the back of the net. Midfielder Blaise Matuidi will return from suspension for France and should replace Corentin Tolisso in the starting line-up despite the replacement assisting on the Griezmann goal in the quarter finals.
Belgium recorded a 2-1 win against Brazil in the quarter finals as they were gifted an own goal in the 13th minute before midfielder Kevin de Bruyne scored one of the goals of the tournament later in the first half. Renato Augusto was able to pull one back for the Brazilians in the 76th minute but it was to no avail as the tournament favourites were sent packing.
There will be some line-up adjustments in order for Belgium as well as right back Thomas Meunier is set to miss the game through suspension. Midfielder Nacer Chadli looks set to move to the right back position while out of favour Carrasco should slot back into the midfield.
France have barely put a foot wrong all tournament. They have allowed just one goal in the group stage and their offence looked sensational in their Round of 16 win over Argentina as they plundered four goals. Their defence was back to it’s best against Uruguay making them deserved $1.73 favourites to advance here.
Belgium had to come from 2-0 down to advance past Japan in the Round of 16 and while the scoreline against Brazil looked comfortable, the South Americans controlled the majority of the game and the two Beligan goals came well and truly against the play. I don’t think France make the same defensive errors in the semi final.
Croatia vs England (Thursday 4am AEST)
What a remarkable run it’s been for England in the 2018 World Cup so far. After an extremely horrific past at World Cup tournaments over the past few decades, England finally broke the hoodoo and advanced to their first semi final since they won the tournament back in 1966. England has been in a frenzy with the team’s performance, and a win on Thursday morning would likely send the nation into meltdown.
They were great in the quarter finals, capturing a 2-0 win over Sweden and controlling the game from start to finish. There are no suspension or injury concerns for the English side, however, a line-up change could be in order as the usual attacking midfield trio of Jesse Lingard, Dele Alli and Raheem Stirling could be broken up in lieu of another holding midfielder to quell the dominance of the star studded Croat midfield.
Croatia has without a doubt been the surprise packet of the tournament so far. While many looked at their extremely talented line-up pre tournament and thought they have the potential to impress, no one would have tipped them to be playing in their second semi final. Luck has played a small factor in their run, however, as they have been successful in penalty shootouts in both of their knockout games so far. Two full slates of extra time might bring some fatigue factors into play here and injury concerns to goal keeper Danijel Subasic and right back Sime Vrsaljko will test their depth. However, the midfield duo of Ivan Rakatic and Luka Modric supported by a lethal attack which includes Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic are the engine room for the Croats and should be the deciding factor for their success.
Tough game to call here. Going by recent history, England look destined for a heart breaking end to this tournament, however, its hard to fault them at the moment. Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is arguably the player of the tournament at the moment and the creativity and finishing ability of the likes of Alli, Sterling and Harry Kane has been prominent. The Three Lions have one more strong performance in them here, setting up what could be the biggest World Cup Final of all time between storied rivals England and France.
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