Fri, Jul 6, 11:49am by Staff Writer
Eight teams remain in the quest for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with four quarterfinals taking place this weekend in Russia.
The first quarterfinal on Saturday morning in Nizhny Novgorod sees Uruguay meet France for a spot in the semi finals.
France are $2 favourites to win in regular time at Sportsbet, with Uruguay $4.60 outsiders. The draw is paying $3.10.
Both sides progressed in regular time at the round of 16 stage of the competition, with France scoring a 4-3 win against Argentina. Uruguay’s win was by the same margin, albeit with fewer goals scored as they had a 2-1 win against Portugal.
France has a strong record of progressing when they reach the quarterfinals of a major tournament, progressing on four of its last five appearance at the quarterfinal stage. The only exception was a 1-0 loss to eventual winners Germany at the 2014 World Cup.
This is Uruguay’s first quarterfinal appearance since a 4-2 win against Ghana on penalties at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Edinson Cavani has been Uruguay’s avenue to goal in knockout competition, scoring their last three goals.
French prodigy Kylian Mbappe has had an efficient tournament thus far, scoring from three of his five shots on target.
Uruguay will provide a stern challenge for France, particularly defensively. Argentina were brittle at the back in the second half, with Uruguay certain to have learnt from their near neighbours mistakes. Backing the draw at $3.10 is a worthy play in this one.
The second quarterfinal on Saturday morning has tournament favourites Brazil meeting Belgium in Kazan.
Brazil are $2.10 favourites to win the match, with Belgium $3.70 outsiders. The draw is paying $3.40.
This is the seventh consecutive World Cup quarterfinal Brazil will play in, having gone out twice at this stage in that run, in 2006 and 2010.
European sides have been Brazil’s downfall in recent tournaments, being knocked out by European opposition in each of their past three World Cup’s.
Neymar and Eden Hazard are both crucial to their sides goal scoring chances. Hazard has been involved in 19 goals in his 18 games for Belgium under new coach Roberto Martinez. He has scored 10 of those.
Neymar has a similarly sublime record, with 20 goal involvements in 19 matches, scoring 11.
Getting the ball to Romelu Lukaku will be key to Belgium’s chances of success, with the striker scoring from four of his five shots on target at this tournament.
This match is the pick of the quarterfinals with both sides possessing tremendous quality across the park. Both are known for their goals, but we are predicting a cagey affair, with under 2.5 goals at $1.75 or under 1.5 goals at $3.30 the two bets we fancy.
On Sunday, Sweden and England meet in Samara, with the Three Lions the shortest priced favourite across the four matches at $1.90 at Sportsbet. Sweden are paying $4.80 to win. The draw is $3.25.
England produced a memorable penalty shootout win against Colombia in the round of 16, while Sweden had a 1-0 win against Switzerland.
England are undefeated in 14 of their last 15 matches, with Sweden having kept a clean sheet in 5 of their last 6 World Cup matches.
The last time these two sides met was back in 2012 when Sweden had a 4-2 win against England. In the same year, England managed a 3-2 win over the Swedes.
All time, both teams have seven wins between them with nine draws.
At this World Cup, Sweden have played without the ball for large parts, averaging only 38 per cent possession. England have had 54 per cent possession in their games, but it is Sweden with more shots on target at 18 to 17.
This won’t be an easy match for England and they may have some letdown after their win against Colombia. England to win in penalties at $9 in the method of victory market is good value given there is little between the teams.
Few could have predicted this matchup in the quarterfinals of the World Cup before the tournament began, but one of these teams will reach the semifinals when its all said and done.
The host nation has overcome long odds to reach this point as the lowest-ranked team in the entire field.
They are $3.95 to defeat Croatia in regular time, with Croatia paying $2.15. The draw is $3.10.
Croatia possesses the better players across the park, particularly in the midfield and up front. Russia will be buoyed by a ferocious home crowd, but they should fall short against superior opposition.
In three previous meetings between the two sides, Croatia has one win and two draws.
Croatia are a value price to win in regular time at $2.15 and this is the pick of the weekend.
FIFA World Cup Quarter Finals Odds – Sportsbet
Uruguay $4.60 Draw $3.10 France $2
Brazil $2.10 Draw $3.40 Belgium $3.70
Sweden $4.80 Draw $3.25 England $1.90
Russia $3.95 Draw $3.10 Croatia $2.15
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