World Cup Second Round Preview June 30

Now onto the knockout rounds in the World Cup with lots of big names in action on Saturday.  I like goals in the first game between the France and Argentina while I think the second with Uruguay and Portugal will be tight and I like the draw.  My bets for Saturday are:

10 unit bet on France-Argentina Over 2 @ 1.99

1 unit bet on Uruguay-Portugal to Draw @ 2.96

 

 

France-Argentina

Both of these teams have disappointed so far in this tournament, but of the two, France have been far better.  Though Les Bleus haven’t been the exciting side you would expect from a team with so many big name players, they also have never really been in much danger and have cruised into this round.  And now they get to face a defense that has been in shambles all throughout this tournament.  After seeing what Croatia did to this Argentina team, you have to think that this French team will be able to control this game and get plenty of opportunities to score.

On the other side, Argentina looked much better in attack against Nigeria and Ever Banega was a fantastic person to bring into the starting lineup.   Banega will be back in the lineup for this match, but rumor is that neither Higuain or Aguero will start this match.  Messi will supposedly play as a false 9 with Di Maria and Pavon on the wings.  This is an interesting tactic and we’ll have to see if it will work, but with Messi back on track after his goal against Nigeria and playing well with Banega, I like Argentina’s chances of getting a goal.

In the end, I think France is too strong for this Argentina team that is extremely lucky just to make it to this round.  Argentina has constantly given away chances during this tournament and with this much attacking talent for France, I think they will punish the Argentine defense.  While this might be a tight game for awhile, I think the total is too low and I like France to win this game 2-1.

 

Uruguay-Portugal

I am really looking forward to this match and this is one that I think will be very close.  Uruguay with two close 1-0 wins, before really breaking out with a 3-0 win over Russia and this team could go really far if they continue to play like that.  Uruguay are the only team who have not allowed a goal in this tournament and they will make things very difficult for Ronaldo and Portugal in this game.  Godin has been a rock in central defense and Gimenez will be back in the line up after missing the Russia match with an injury.  And these two are very familiar with Ronaldo, having faced him many times the past few years with Atletico Madrid.

Up front for Uruguay is another interesting match up as Luis Suarez of Barcelona go up against Pepe who used to play for Real Madrid.  Along with Edinson Cavani, I think the Uruguay have the edge in attack, but Ronaldo and Quaresma have proved that Portugal score amazing goals at any time.   Overall, I think that Uruguay have the more talented squad and should be the small favorite, but Portugal have been in this position many times before and they have shown they are extremely difficult to knockout of a tournament.

Portugal are the kings of getting draws in recent years with two of three of their group stage matches ending level, while all three group stage matches in Euro 2016 ended in draws.  And then in the knockout rounds in the Euros, the round of 16, quarterfinals, and finals all needed extra time.  This will be another close one and I think 0-0 or 1-1 is the most likely score

 

MLS Betting Preview June 29-July 1

Eleven games in MLS this weekend and some good betting opportunities.  Hopefully, will have better luck here than with the World Cup!  Five bets for me this weekend:

5 unit bet on Vancouver-Colorado Over 2.75 @1.88

5 unit bet on NY Red Bulls +.25 @ 2.03

1 unit bet on  NY Red Bulls-Toronto FC Over 3 @1.87

1 unit bet on New England-DC United Over 3 @1.94

1 unit bet on Portland +.25 @1.95 

 

Vancouver Whitecaps-Colorado Rapids

Vancouver with an awful performance away to Philadelphia last weekend and after conceding 4 goals in that match, they now lead the league with 34 goals allowed.  They will look to bounce back here and they face the perfect opponent for that in the Colorado Rapids.  The Rapids finally got a victory last week, but prior to that, they had gone nine straight without a win.   Vancouver now have seven straight matches go over 2.5 goals and have not kept a clean sheet in eight straight.  This team can score though and prior to the Philadelphia match, they had scored at least twice in six straight.  But the Rapids are starting to score some goals themselves, with three in their last match against Minnesota and two in the game before that against Chicago.  The Whitecaps will be missing two central defenders in Kendall Waston and Jose Aja, so I think there is a good chance that the Rapids continue their scoring streak.  I am gonna predict a 3-1 Vancouver win in this one.

Toronto FC-New York Red Bulls

Toronto is another team that put in an awful performance and after their loss last weekend against NYC and I am starting to really worry about this teams chances of making the playoffs.  They’ve had a ton of excuses for their poor start to the season, their involvement in the Concacaf Champions League, lots of injury problems, etc, but they are starting to look like a team that is just not good enough and defensively they look very poor.  I think they should play better this week now that they are in front of their own fans, but they will be facing a Red Bulls team that is very difficult to beat.  New York is tied for fewest goals allowed in the league and are also second in goals scored, just one behind Atlanta.  They are also one of the best away teams in the league, losing just one of their last five.  I expect Toronto to play better in this game and at home, I at least expect them to score some goals, but against a very tough NY team and with their poor defense, I don’t think they will win this game.  I like the Red Bulls in this one by a score of 3-2

New England Revolution-DC United

The big news this week for DC is that they have finally made their signing of Wayne Rooney official.  This is a very big signing and is the star name that they wanted to have when they open their new stadium in a few weeks.  And while in will be interesting to see how Rooney does in MLS, DC have been scoring plenty of goals without him.   United haven’t been held scoreless since the beginning of April and eight of twelve matches this season have had at least three goals.

Meanwhile, the Revolution have only kept two clean sheets this season but have only been held without a goal three times.  The Revs should be able to score in this game as well against a DC team that only has one clean sheet on the season.  There have been some wild games and big scorelines with these teams this season and I think we will see another high scoring match on Saturday.  I like the Revs to win 3-1.

Seattle Sounders-Portland Timbers

A big match up in the Cascadia Cup with Seattle looking to get revenge for their 1-0 loss earlier this year in Portland, but they will be up against a Timbers team that is tough to beat.   Portland have not lost a match since the beginning of April and they have a lot more firepower than this Seattle team that has struggled to score goals all season.  Seattle has only 11 goals scored in MLS play, by far the lowest in the league and they have only won three of their 14 matches.  Though the Sounders will be backed by a huge home crowd in this one, I don’t think they’ll be able to beat a strong Timbers team here, I like Portland to win 1-0.

And the rest of the games this weekend:

Minnesota United-FC Dallas: Lean Under 3 @1.85

Dallas with just two losses this season and both of those have been on trips to New York.  After a 3-0 loss this past weekend to the Red Bulls and a 3-1 loss to NYC in April, I think Dallas will be happy that they do not have to return to NY again this season.   But other than that, Dallas has been outstanding and are in second place in the Western Conference and they play a Minnesota team that is down in ninth in the West.  But this Minnesota team have been solid at home this season, with four wins, a draw, and just two losses.  They also beat Dallas when they came to Minnesota last season.  So picking a side here is a bit difficult, but I do think that the Under 3 goals is a solid bet though.  Minnesota’s home games average just 2.3 goals per match, while Dallas average just 2.7 on the road.  I think that this could be a low scoring game and will predict this to end 1-1, but the last time Dallas came to Minnesota, the match ended 4-1, so I think is is best to avoid this game

Atlanta United-Orlando City: Lean Atlanta -1.5 @2.05

The last time these two met, Orlando was on a six game winning streak. After their 2-1 loss in that match, the Lions are now on a seven match losing steak in league play.  This team has had a lot of injuries this season and are now playing with an interim coach, so this is a bad time to go into a hostile environment like Atlanta.  Orlando is at least getting healthy, so will be playing a stronger side, but I have a feeling that Atlanta is going to get rolling and produce a lop sided victory over this struggling Orlando team.

Atlanta had some really big wins earlier in the season, 4-1 over Vancouver, 5-0 over LAFC, 4-1 over Montreal.  But recently their matches have been much closer, but they have been facing several strong opponents.   I think that facing a reeling Orlando team is just what they need to get another big win, but the Lions have always played Atlanta tough.  In head to head meetings, their have been two draws and two narrow wins for Atlanta by scores of 1-0 and 2-1.  I am gonna predict a 4-1 win for Atlanta here, but this has become a big rivalry in MLS and Orlando will be motivated for this game, they may make it tough for Atlanta in this one

Montreal Impact-Sporting Kansas City: Lean Draw @3.24

Montreal with wins in three of four matches, but you really have to question the quality of their opponents in those games.  The Impact had lost eight of nine prior to that and they have the most losses in the league this season with 11.  Sporting KC will be a much tougher test for the Impact and they are top of the Western Conference with 32 points and they have only lost once on the road this season.  But Sporting have been getting a lot of draws this season and they have just as many draws in away games as victories.  Head to head these teams have also drawn the last two meetings.  KC is the superior team, but Montreal are playing better and with home field, they probably will get something from this game.  I will predict this to end 1-1

Columbus Crew-Real Salt Lake: Lean Columbus -1 @1.79

RSL have had a strange season and though they are currently in the playoff places, this is due entirely to their strong performances at home.  Their away matches, on the other hand, have been horrendous.   Just one win and one draw in seven road games, with just five goals scored and 20 allowed.  I do think that Columbus should get a win here and I was very close to betting on the Crew for this one, but they have not been in the best of form lately.  The Crew have gone five matches without a win and though they have played a very difficult schedule and face a much easier opponent in this one, the odds on them here are a bit too low for me.  But I do like the Crew to get back on track with a 3-0 win in this match.

Chicago Fire-New York City FC: Lean Draw @3.64

NYC are in second place in the East, but they have not been good lately on the road.  They have lost three of five away matches and have not gotten a road win since the beginning of April and that was against a poor San Jose team.  Chicago have been a very average team this season, but they have only lost once in their last five games.   Two of the last four meetings between these teams have ended in Draws and I think this is a match that is very even as well.  I am gonna predict a 1-1 result in this game.

Los Angeles FC-Philadelphia Union: Lean Philadelphia +.75 @1.99

Both teams got big wins last week and both are currently in playoff places.  LA are in third in the West and have impressively won two straight without star forward Carlos Vela.  The Union moved into a the final playoff spot in the East with a 4-0 defeat of Vancouver last Saturday.  This team has looked strong after a poor start to this season and I think they could get another result in LA this weekend.  LA have gotten two good wins in a row, but they got a very lucky win over a bad San Jose team and then another against a bad road team in Columbus.  I think Philadelphia will be a tougher match and I think the odds are too low on LA for this game.  I think we will get a 1-1 result in this one.

San Jose Earthquakes-LA Galaxy: Lean LA Galaxy PK @ 1.88

San Jose have only won two matches all season, both against Minnesota.  They have also allowed the second most goals in the league with 32.  They have already lost to the Galaxy once this season and while they will be tough to beat at home, they are facing an LA team that is now in better form.  After a slow start to the season, the Galaxy have now only lost once in their last five.   LA will be missing some players for this one, but San Jose is just a team that I can not trust to get a result.  I like the Galaxy to get a 1-0 win here.

World Cup Preview Group G June 28

England face off against Belgium with the top spot in Group G on the line and Tunisia play Panama with both just playing for pride.  One bet for me in Group G:

1 unit bet on Belgium-England Over 2.5 @ 2.32

No bet on Tunisia-Panama

 

 

Belgium-England

Now this is a strange match and one that is very hard to handicap.  Both are already through to the next round and while top spot is up for grabs, there are a lot of question marks about who will play, how they will play, and also if it is actually better to win this group.  Romelu Lukaku has an ankle issue, so it is understandable that he will be rested, while it also makes sense that  all the players who have already picked up yellow cards will not play.  It will be interesting to see how many other changes are made though, such as if Harry Kane will start for England or if Vincent Kompany will come in for Belgium after missing the first two matches.

For Belgium, even if major changes are made to the starting XI, it is still a very dangerous team and one that could probably beat about 80% of the teams in this tournament.   Michy Batshuayi is a very capable replacement for Lukaku and he has already scored against Tunisia and against Costa Rica in a pre tournament friendly.   The weakness for this team is probably is defense, where they allowed two goals to Tunisia and with starters Jan Vertongen and Dedryck Boyata set to be rested, they may struggle to stop this England team.

For England, their two victories have been impressive and for a team that did not have the highest hopes coming into the tournament, they have been one of the biggest surprises.  And though they will be making at least a few changes to the line up (Kyle Walker and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are both on yellows), they may be in a good position to get a win over Belgium.  Harry Kane is reportedly going to start after some speculation that he would be rested and with five goals so far he is the top scorer in the tournament and I like his chances to increase his lead for the Golden Boot over Lukaku and Ronaldo in this game.

With the way these teams have been scoring, I really liked the over and earlier this week, I was planning to make this one of my biggest bets.  But the questions over who would play made me rethink this and some other question marks about this match have confirmed that it is not a good idea to bet much on this game.   These question marks involve the strange speculation that both teams would prefer to lose in order to get the runner up spot in this group instead of winning it.   The group runner up will be on the side of the bracket with Sweden, Switzerland, and Denmark, while the group winner would be on the side with Brazil, France, and Argentina.  I try not to make too much of these sort of things, but I do wonder what would happen if for example, Japan ends up topping Group H and then would these teams then prefer to be runner ups instead of facing Senegal or Colombia in the next round?

Gareth Southgate has already said this sort of thing is nonsense and that England would be going for the victory, while Roberto Martinez said in a press conference that ‘the football gods have a way of punishing teams that are unprofessional.’  In the end, I think both teams will be going all out for the win, but the question marks surrounding this game mean I do not have much confidence on any outcome.  I will predict this to be a 2-2 draw and I think the over 2.5 is the best play here.

 

Tunisia-Panama

Like the Saudi Arabia-Egypt match, I have no interest in betting on a game between two teams that have already been eliminated (though I wish I had bet on that game as I would have won it).  I have a prop bet that Panama would be the lowest scoring team in this tournament and after Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Costa Rica all scored twice this week, this bet is looking pretty good at the moment and my main hope from this match is that Panama are held scoreless.

But my lean on this game is to the over 2.5, as I think both of these teams will want to go out on a high and with a win.  Tunisia have had four of five matches go over 2.5 and they have only been held scoreless in one of those games.  They should score here against a Panama defense that has struggled.  And for Panama, this is a very veteran team and many of their players will be retiring from the national team after this match, making the World Cup has been such a major accomplishment for this team and I think they will attack all out in this one.   I think Tunisia get the victory here in a high scoring contest.  I will say Tunisia win 3-2

World Cup Preview Group H June 28

All four games in this group have gone over 2.5 goals so far and I am expecting to see more of the same on Thursday.  My second big bet of this tournament will be on the over 2.5 in Japan vs Poland and I like goals in Colombia-Senegal as well.  Here are my bets for the final round of Group H:

5 unit bet on Japan-Poland Over 2.5 @ 2.13

1 unit bet on Colombia-Senegal Over 2.5 @ 2.07

 

 

Japan-Poland

Japan have kept only one clean sheet in their past 15 matches and that one was against North Korea.  Poland has only kept two clean sheets in their last ten matches and seven of those ten games have gone over 2.5 goals.  These two teams are similar in that they can both score goals, but are a bit weak in the back and concede a bit too often.

Now obviously, Poland has had a very poor tournament and are up there with Germany and maybe a few others as one of the biggest disappointments of the Cup.  This team has a ton of talent, especially in attack and it has been a bit shocking that they have not been able to create anything at all so far.  Now that they are eliminated, it will be interesting to see how the react, but they have performed well in the past in situations where there was nothing to play for.  They were eliminated in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups going into the final group games and won both matches, 3-1 against the USA in ’02 and 2-1 against Costa Rica in ’06.  There have been rumors of drama and infighting in the squad and I am a bit worried that this team may not be motivated for this game, but we have seen several other teams that had already been eliminated come out and perform extremely well this week and I am expecting that Poland will come out and play with a lot of pride and try to get the win.

For Japan, they have been very impressive in their two matches so far, coming back twice to draw with Senegal and beating  a very strong Colombia team.  I was not expecting much from this team, but they have surprised me, especially how well they have attacked.  Takashi Inui has  looked very dangerous in both games and Keisuke Honda has done well as a sub coming into the game late on.  But I do worry about this teams defense and goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima has been shaky and made mistakes to allow goals in both games.  Japan need just a point from this match and I think they will get it, but Poland should score in this one and will give Japan a big test.  I am gonna predict this to end 2-2

 

Colombia-Senegal

A fantastic performance from Colombia against Poland and this team looks like they are very capable of making a deep run in this tournament just like they did in Brazil four years ago.  However, they are still in a difficult position, behind both Senegal and Japan in the group standings and need to get a result from this match.  Juan Quintero is having a break out tournament similar to what James Rodriguez did in 2014.  Both were fantastic against Poland and along with Juan Cuadrado and Radamel Falcao, this team has an extremely talented and dangerous attack.

Senegal have to be a bit disappointed to have only gotten a draw after grabbing the lead twice against Japan, but with four points from their two matches, they are in a strong position and only need a point to advance to the next round.  This team has a strong squad throughout the team and they can score but are also tough in defense.  This should be a very good game between two very strong teams and picking which team will win is difficult.

Based on their last match day, I would have to give the edge to Colombia as they looked like they are real contenders in this tournament, but Senegal will be a tougher team to beat and have a superior defense to Poland’s.  But I am concerned about the goals that Senegal allowed to Japan and I wonder if they can stop this talented attack.  I think Colombia will win this game but Sadio Mane and co. are always a threat to score and I think the over is the best bet in this one.  I will predict Colombia to win 2-1.

World Cup Preview Group F June 27

All four teams are still alive in Group F, so Wednesday could be a wild day as Mexico looks for win number three against Sweden and defending Champs Germany take on South Korea.  Here are my bets for the final round in Group F:

1 unit bet on Mexico-Sweden to Draw @ 3.38

1 unit bet on Germany-South Korea Over 3 @ 1.79

 

 

Mexico-Sweden

It’s a bit hard to believe, but despite already having two wins, Mexico could still get knocked out of the tournament if they lose to Sweden.   El Tri are still in fantastic position though and could also go through if they lose and Germany fails to beat Korea, but Mexico could be in for a nervy match tomorrow against a team that has a strong defense.   In their past ten matches, Sweden has kept six clean sheets and have only allowed more than one goal to Chile and Germany.

Mexico has also kept six clean sheets in their last ten matches, so this match could be very defensive with both sides finding it difficult to break through.  It will be interesting to see how Juan Carlos Osorio decides to line up his team but the coach who has been known for constantly changing and rotating his squad will most likely will field a team very similar to the past two games.  This team has looked solid in defense and in attack and you know that Osorio will always have his team well prepared.

But the same thing goes for Sweden, they are very well organized and very difficult to beat.  I give Mexico the edge on talent in this match, but Sweden will be right there with them the whole way and they’ve shown they can grind out a goal in their games.  I think a 1-1 draw is the most likely result.

 

Germany-South Korea

Amazing how quickly things changed.  Germany were just about knocked out of this tournament and now all of a sudden could not only qualify for the next round, but they could also win the Group.  And now they get to face the weakest opponent in South Korea, who have two losses so far.  Germany had a lot of close results in the 2014 World Cup as well, only beating Algeria in extra time and narrowly beating France 1-0, then exploding for a 7-1 win over Brazil.   I kind of feel like we are in a similar situation and now that this team has some confidence, there is a chance for a blowout.  The Germans have had plenty of lopsided victories in recent years,  a 6-0 win over Norway, 5-1  vs Azerbaijan, 4-1 vs Mexico, 7-0 & 8-0 vs San Marino, and several 3-0 wins.  Once this team gets rolling, things can get ugly very quick

For Korea, despite have zero points, they are still not eliminated and can make the next round with a win and Sweden loss to Mexico.  I do not think this side is strong enough to get a result against Germany, but with Jerome Boateng out and Mats Hummels still recovering from injury in central defense, I do like Korea’s chances of scoring.  In the end, I see Germany getting a big victory here.  I am going to predict that Die Mannschaft win by a score of 4-1

World Cup Preview Group E June 27

A massive game Wednesday as Serbia looks to upset Brazil and Switzerland could top the group if they beat Costa Rica.  Here are my bets for the final round of Group E:

1 unit bet on Serbia-Brazil Over 2.5 @ 1.84

1 unit bet on Switzerland -.75  @ 1.85

 

 

Brazil-Serbia

I have been very impressed by Serbia in their two games and while I am not sure if they can beat Brazil, they will certainly be an extremely difficult test for Neymar and co .  The Serbs have a star in Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and together with Nemanja Matic and Dusan Tadic, they form a very strong midfield.  Then up front they have an absolute beast in Aleksandr Mitrovic.  Against the Swiss, Mitrovic scored once, had several other chances and should have been given a penalty in the second half.  The Serbs love to cross the ball into the box and Mitrovic is a very dangerous man to have in front of goal.  Serbia need to win this game to advance, so they will be attacking throughout the game and I like their chances of scoring here.

But I think the Serbian defense is the weakness of this team and though there are some quality players, this is an aging backline with Aleksandar Kolarov (32), Branislav Ivanovic (34), and Dusko Tosic (33).  This defense looked exhausted late in the second half as they struggled to keep up with the Swiss attack, before finally allowing the winner to Xherdan Shaqiri.  Against an even more dangerous attack, I think the Serbs will once again struggle and I like Brazil to get at least a couple goals here.  I am gonna predict a 2-1 win for Brazil.

 

Switzerland-Costa Rica

Two very strong performances from the Swiss and they have now only lost once in regular time in their last 24 matches.  This is a very strong defense for the Swiss and if they can hold the Brazilians and Serbs to just a single goal each, there is a very good chance they can get a clean sheet against a much weaker Costa Rica attack.

This will definitely not be an easy match and we have seen that already eliminated teams have done very well in their final matches.  Peru was victorious over Australia, while Iran and Morocco got draws against strong opponents and I am expecting Costa Rica to play with a lot of pride here.  The Ticos have done very well, losing both matches by narrow margins and they are a bit unlucky to have zero points.  But they have not scored in this tournament and they must now face a Swiss defense which is probably stronger than the two they have already faced.

I expect Costa Rica to hold out for awhile but eventually Shaqiri and the Swiss will find the breakthrough and get another victory to move to the next round.  I like Switzerland to win 2-0 in this game.

World Cup Preview Group D June 26

This has been a very fun World Cup to watch but one that has been very difficult to handicap.  I’ve only made very small bets so far (and it hasn’t gone very well!), but after seeing each team play a couple times, there are a few games where I have a bit more confidence, so a couple bigger plays coming up this week.  First one on Tuesday, as I am expecting goals  in Argentina-Nigeria.  Here are my bets for the final round of Group D:

10 unit bet on Argentina-Nigeria Over 2.5 @ 1.87

1 unit bet on Croatia-Iceland to Draw @ 3.45

 

 

Argentina-Nigeria

The past four matches between these teams have ended with scores of 4-2, 3-2, 3-1, and 4-1, and I think there will be a similar scoreline on Tuesday.  Nigeria defeated Argentina in a friendly in November by a score of 4-2 and this was one of a few worrying results for the Argentina defense.  La Albiceleste then followed that game up with a 6-1 defeat to Spain in March and their defensive issues have continued in this tournament.  A very shaky performance against Croatia as well and now Willy Caballero will be replaced in goal, but not sure how much that will really improve this team.  This is a very dangerous attack that Nigeria possess and Ahmed Musa showed how lethal they can be against Iceland.

For Argentina in this match, there is really no other option but to attack as the only hope to advance is to win, but by going all out for the goal, they will open themselves up to counters and that is a scary prospect with this defense.   But this Argentine attack will also have an easier time in this match against a Nigeria defense that can be shaky as well.  The Super Eagles allowed two to Croatia and two to England in a pre tournament friendly.  They also have an extremely young and inexperienced goalkeeper in 19 year old Francis Uzoho.   I think they will struggle to stop Messi and Higuain, and as the game goes on Aguero, Pavon, Dybala, etc could all enter the game.

As for Messi, he has really struggled this tournament, but remember that when Argentina were in their last qualifying match and needed a win, Messi got a hat trick against Ecuador.  Never count him out, he can do amazing things.  As far as who wins this game, it is hard to call.  I think it will go back and forth with both sides getting chances and scoring goals.  The odds on Argentina to win are a bit ridiculous at this point and I think Nigeria +1 is a very good bet as well.  But I will call this to end 2-2 in a wild, high scoring game.

 

 

 

Croatia-Iceland

Croatia and Iceland are very familiar with each other as they were drawn together in qualifying for both the 2014 and 2018 World Cups.  All four of those meetings have been low scoring affairs with Croatia winning both of the meetings in Zagreb 2-0 while Iceland got a 0-0 draw and a 1-0 win when they played in Reykjavik.   Iceland are always going to be difficult to beat and will provide a tougher challenge defensively to Croatia then the ones they faced against Argentina or Nigeria.  But Iceland need to the win here so will need to go for goals but are going up against a side that are yet to concede in this tournament.   Croatia are in a commanding position in the group and only need a point to clinch the top spot in this group.  Like the other meetings between these two, this will most likely be low scoring and I think 1-1 is the most likely result.  I like the under in this game as well, but I think the draw is the best bet here.

 

 

World Cup Preview Group C June 26

Australia need a win and some help in their match with an entertaining Peru side and Denmark can go through with a point against already qualified France.  Here are my bets for the final round in Group C

1 unit bet on Australia-Peru Over 2.5 @ 2.15

1 unit bet on Denmark +.5  @1.78 

 

 

Australia-Peru

Australia need a win and some help from the French to move on and while they can do nothing about the result in the other game, they can at least take care of business in this match and I expect them to come out and look for goals.   Though their only goals of the tournament have come from penalties, the Socceroos have some good attacking players and I like their chances on scoring against a Peruvian defense that is not quite as strong as the Danes or French.

For Peru, they have to be disappointed to be eliminated already, as they played well in their first two matches and have been one of the most entertaining teams to watch so far.  I expect them to continue their attacking display in this match, as they will want to get a victory in front of their supporters who have traveled in huge numbers to be in Russia.  With Australia needing the win and pushing for goals, Peru will have plenty of opportunities to counter and with their speed, they should get chances to score.  I like both teams to score and I think Australia will get the win they need in a 2-1 game.

 

France-Denmark

But while I think Australia will get the win, in the end, I do not expect it to matter as I believe Denmark will get a result here and clinch their place in the next round.  There is not much incentive for either of these teams to attack as a draw would see both through and this Danish team that is already very defensive will most likely be even more conservative in this game.  But for the French, there is not much reason to go for the win either, as a point would get them the top spot in the group and an easier opponent in the next round.  If the Danes do look to score, Christian Eriksen is always a threat and with French defender Samuel Umtiti set to miss this game through injury, the Danes may find it a bit easier to find the net.  But this could be a very dull match and a draw is most likely in my opinion, this could be a 0-0 match.

World Cup Preview Group B June 25

Portugal face Iran with the winner moving on and Spain can win the group against already eliminated Morocco.  Here are my bets for the last round in Group B:

1 unit bet on Portugal-Iran  to Draw @3.80

1 unit bet on Spain -1.25   @1.86

 

 

Portugal-Iran

A very interesting match up here, as both could potentially win the Group or be eliminated.  Clearly, Portugal are in much better position and only need a draw to advance.  They are understandably big favorites and with Cristiano Ronaldo on fire, they have a good chance to win here.  But this will be a very difficult match against a team that only narrowly lost to Spain and were a bit unfortunate to concede to Diego Costa.  Iran will have the same defensive plan against Portugal and I think Ronaldo and co. will also find it hard to find a breakthrough.  A very interesting point is that Iran’s coach Carlos Queiroz was Portugal’s manager during the 2010 World Cup, so he knows this team well and will certainly have Iran ready for this match.

Queiroz is a very defensive manager and Iran’s matches have almost all been very low scoring and close, but that has also been a feature for Portugal’s team.  Portugal won Euro 2016, but only won one match in regular time.  They drew all three group stage matches in that tournament which included games with less talented teams like Hungary, Iceland and Austria.  Portugal also only need the one point to advance, so may just try to see the match out if it is level late in the game.   I think this game could be 0-0 or 1-1 and I like the draw here.  A couple other options I like are Portugal to win 1-0 and Ronaldo to be the first goalscorer .

 

 

 

Spain-Morocco

It is a shame that Morocco have already been eliminated as they have been one of the more entertaining teams in this tournament, playing a nice attacking game.  However, they really have lacked a goal scoring presence and their failure to finish chances has really hurt them.  It will be interesting to see how they play in this game with no chance to advance, but I suspect they will continue to play their attacking game.  This will be entertaining to watch, but I don’t think their forwards will threaten Spain too much and with more space to play in than they had against Iran, the Spanish side should be able to get plenty of chances to score.   Spain will want to win and top this group and I am expecting them to get a comfortable win here.  I like La Roja to win 3-0.

World Cup Preview Group A June 25

Leaders Russia and Uruguay face off to decide the winner of Group A and the Saudi’s meet Egypt in a dead rubber match.  One bet from this group for me:

1 unit bet on Russia-Uruguay to Draw @ 3.12

No bet on Egypt-Saudi Arabia

 

 

Russia-Uruguay

Russia have been one of the big surprises of this Cup, as they have not only won but dominated their opponents and scored in bunches.  Uruguay have also won their two matches, but not in quite as convincing fashion.  Both teams are already through to the next round, but getting top spot may be important (possibly getting to face Iran in the second round?).  Russia hold the edge on goal difference but they face a much tougher team here, especially in defense.

As for Uruguay, I am a big fan of this team and they are my long shot pick to win the tournament.  Not the most impressive showings from them so far but they have gotten two wins and that is all that matters at this point.  Their main strength is in defense and it is always going to be difficult to score on that central back pairing of Godin and Gimenez.  They have kept two clean sheets so far and I like their chances of getting another one here.

The talent edge here goes to Uruguay, but on recent form and with a home crowd backing them, I think Russia will get something from this match.  Russia have the goal difference edge, so not the most incentive to attack for them.  I think this will be a very conservative match, with both happy to get a draw.  We still have not had a 0-0 result in this tournament, maybe this is the one? But I think 1-1 is also a likely scoreline and I like the draw in this match

 

Egypt-Saudi Arabia

Absolutely no interest in this game, a match that means nothing with both already eliminated.  I have a prop bet on Panama to be the lowest scoring team in the tournament, so my only hope from this game is that the Saudi’s get a couple goals, but I will not be watching this and certainly will not be betting it.  This is a match that could really go either way and if I absolutely had to bet this match, I would take Saudi Arabia +.5.  My thinking is that the Saudi’s are probably in a more positive frame of mind at this point as they at the very least saved some face with their close 1-0 loss to Uruguay after their humiliation in the opener.  Nothing was really expected from this team and I think they’ll want to end the tournament on a high note.  I think they will at least give maximum effort here

I’m not so sure we can say the same about Egypt.  They have to be fairly devastated to already be eliminated after so much hype for them prior to the tournament.  Nothing has gone right for them, the Mo Salah injury, the late goal to Uruguay, etc and I do not know how they can really get motivated for this match.  There is also a lot of drama going on in the camp, especially surrounding Salah.  There were reports that he asked to leave the team early to return to Liverpool and then more rumors that he will retire from the national team.  It looks like he will play and I have seen lots of people take prop bets for him to score, but I think it is best to be very careful with this.  He seems very discontent with the national team set up and I think he wants nothing to do with this game.  With a half healed shoulder and a busy Premier League and Champions League schedule ahead, I am thinking Salah may not be much of a factor in this one.

Overall, I think this game is more important to the Saudi’s and I am gonna predict a 1-1 result, but they are not a good team and their defense can be pretty awful.  I would not be surprised with any result in this match and think its best to just stay away.