World Cup Semifinals: Belgium vs. France

Welp, we’ve made it this far. The Semifinals of the World Cup. Three more matches before we have to wait another four years for this majestic tournament again. That’s so depressing, especially because there have been some of the more memorable games in recent history this year. Last-minute winners, England getting over their penalty woes, goalies stepping up in big moments. It’s had it all. And now, here we are. Let’s get to it.

Belgium: +185

France: +155

Draw: +225

Why Belgium Will Win: Belgium has shown a little bit of everything this tournament. The ability to run teams off the pitch (read: 5-2 drubbing of Tunisia), the ability to come from behind (read: the comeback against Japan from 2 goals down to win 3-2), and the ability to beat superior teams (their 2-1 quarterfinal win against Brazil). There might not be a more exciting team in this tournament. One thing is certain with this team: they can score with the best of them. Their counter-attacking ability is unmatched by anyone on the planet.

Their front three of De Bruyne, Hazard, and Lukaku is going to be an absolute nightmare for France’s shaky defense to deal with, especially when France goes forward and commits numbers to the attack. The Belgians have been through it all so far, and are this close to the finals that has eluded this Golden Generation for so long. Belgium also happens to have the best player on the field in KDB, which is always helpful.

Why France Will Win: It’s taken the French some time to figure out their best XI, but after the Denmark game they’ve really put it together. The 4-3 thriller against Argentina showcased their ability going forward and their class, while the 2-0 win against Uruguay was a masterclass in how to put away inferior teams. Mbappe is an absolute terror, especially on the break when he can get up to full speed. Case in point:

France has pace to burn and clinical finishers that will cause Belgium’s (likely) back three problems all afternoon. The key here is N’golo Kante, who will be marking De Bruyne all day. He is easily the best defensive midfielder in the world, and his energy and ability to win the ball back in the middle of the pitch is key to both stopping Belgium’s attack and getting France out in transition quickly.

Who Will Win: This game, like most, comes down to the midfield. Whoever wins the battle in the middle of the pitch will win 90% of games. When the talent on the field is this evenly split, this is where the game is won and lost. I think that Paul Pogba will be an absolute menace in a game where France needs him at his creative best, while Kante deals with the defensive work. I love this Belgian team, but (as a Liverpool fan) I just can’t see Roberto Martinez leading a team to a World Cup final. Goals from Mbappe and Griezmann will get them past Kevin De Bruyne and co. France To Win 3-2

Gamblin’ With Gos: World Cup Day 7

Day 6 Recap

So…that was bad, huh? On the day where everything seemed like a trap or too good to be true it…was. Hand up, that’s on me. Anyways, we’re on to Cincinnati (Day 7), where the games become a lot more predictable. In theory at least. Happy Wednesday – Hedgeday.

Colombia 1-2 Japan: Colombia were largely the better team, but were handicapped from the beginning with a red card and subsequent penalty kick. They got back in it with a free-kick but ultimately couldn’t hold on to the point. Credit where credit is due though, Japan came to play and they capitalized on the Colombians mistakes.

Senegal 2-1 Poland: Good news! I DID take Senegal to make it out of the group! Bad news! I took them to draw 2-2 yesterday. Poland was exactly what we thought they were, which was totally rudderless without Robert Lewandowski on the score sheet and running the show. Senegal played an awesome game and totally deserved the 3 points, despite getting a little bit of help from Bizarro Ref World (also, anybody mad at Senegal is totally off base. They did nothing wrong and followed the rules. It’s the ref who MAYBE shouldn’t have let Niang back on the field, but even then it’s tough as Poland had full possession of the ball and he couldn’t have predicted the long back pass).

Russia 3-1 Egypt: I was totally wrong about Egypt. Salah not being at 100% hurt but the Egyptians were just totally outclassed. The Russians were the better team and deserve to go through to the next round. As for Egypt, we can only hope it’s not another quarter of a century before their next World Cup.

 

Day 7 Picks

Portugal (-1) vs. Morocco (+1)

Portugal Win: -155

Draw: +255

Morocco Win: +500

o/u: 2.5

Fun Prop Bet Of The Match: Halftime/Full Time – Morocco/Draw (+1600)

I’m going to go out of my way and say that a lot of my picks today are the obvious ones, and when I try to go out on a limb just to shake things up, I’ll let you know. This is one of those times. Portugal are a great side who seem to play up or down to their competition more than anyone in the world. Doubting Ronaldo in a big tournament is literally the dumbest thing you can do at the moment. I *think* Portugal will sneak one out via another late goal (in which case you’re going to want to take Portugal 2-1). But something in my gut tells me Morocco will have to attack and Portugal will mostly stick to the counter-attacking system that won them Euro 2016. Official Prediction: Give me a 1-1 draw.

Uruguay (-2) vs. Saudi Arabia (+2)

Uruguay Win: -530

Draw: +520

Saudi Arabia Win: +1650

o/u: 3

Fun Prop Bet Of The Match: Exactly 2 Goals Scored In The First Half (+260)

Safe Prop Bet Of The Match: Edinson Cavani Anytime Scorer (-185)

The spread has been fluctuating between 2 and 2.5 over the last day or so, so if you can find it at 2 I suggest you pull the trigger. The Uruguay attack gets to feast on the Saudi Arabian defense, which barely put up a fight against their Russian hosts last week. Now, will they lose by 5 again? Unlikely. And this is so lopsided it almost makes me hesitate to pick Uruguay by more than a goal. But…again, they just got 5 shipped past them. When the best thing you can say about a team is, “They literally couldn’t look worse if they tried” it’s usually a bad thing. That’s hard to look past even if it was a minor aberration. Uruguay wins 3-0.

Iran (+1.5) vs. Spain (-1.5)

Iran Win: +1400

Draw: +520

Spain Win: -500

o/u: 2.5

Fun Prop Bet Of The Match: Spain Win AND Both Teams Score (+325)

I guess my prop bet kind of gives away my pick here, but this should not be as lopsided as you think. Iran nabbed an impressive win against Morocco and will be fighting hard to hold on to their spot at the top of the group. They will fight and they will make things hard on the Spanish, but at the end of the day I think Spain gets the goals they need, knowing that a draw or loss would likely leave them vulnerable (depending on the Portugal vs. Morocco result). Spain wins 2-1.

Gamblin’ With Gos: World Cup Day 6

 

Recap of Day 5:

Whoops. I messed around and went 3-0 on the moneyline and on over/unders (2-1 ATS). My bad. Must be awful for the haters and losers, of which there are many, to see that.

Sweden 1-0 South Korea: Not what you would call “the best game of the tournament” but ultimately a relatively predictable match. Chances were few and far between and the lone goal came on a penalty kick. Oh well, they can’t all be winners. Unless you took Sweden, in which case, it was a great game and a great win.

Belgium 3-0 Panama: Belgium were clearly the superior team and it shone through early in the first half, with the Belgians dominating possession and really putting Panama on the back foot. Alas, they were wasteful and the score was 0-0 at half, and with a lot of soccer giants falling by the wayside with uninspiring performances, you’d be forgiven for thinking this would follow the same script. Then, Dries Mertens happened.

And then, Romelu Lukaku happened twice more (albeit Kevin De Bruyne’s cross for Lukaku’s first was sublime), and Belgium walked away with a comfortable 3-0 win. If they continue to play like they did in the second half, they could easily win it all. If we see more of the first half Belgium, they will struggle to even get to the quarterfinals.

England  –  Tunisia: Welp, England left it late, and they made it harder than it should have been (I know shocking) but they got it done thanks to Harry Kane’s brace. A big 3 points for the Brits and it’s pleasing to see that they can get a result even when they’re not playing their best. I can’t believe Marcus Rashford didn’t start. Harry Kane was mostly anonymous, winding up with two shots on target…for two goals. He had some moments in build-up play, but he had what the other 9 outfield players didn’t: ruthlessness. They must get more clinical in front of net but they pressed well and their only goal conceded was a penalty. Overall, enjoy the escape and get ready for the next one.

 

Day 6 Matchups (6/19)

*Side note, these games make me extremely nervous and this is probably the most unsure I’ll be this tournament about my picks, so I wouldn’t blame you for hedging. That being said, let’s ride the hot streak*

Columbia (-0.5) vs. Japan (+0.5)

Columbia Wins: -130

Draw: +230

Japan Wins: +440

o/u: 2

Fun Prop Bets To Take: Half-time/Full-time – Draw/Colombia (+300), Radamel Falcao anytime scorer (+125)

This should be an easy win for Colombia. They have the talent to absolutely run riot on Japan. It shouldn’t be a problem but…that spread is really freaky. This is less pointing to a draw and more screaming it at you while kicking you in the face. Lucky for everyone here, I’m not afraid to be wrong. James and Falcao net. Colombia wins 2-0. 

Poland (-0.5) vs. Senegal (+0.5)

Poland Wins: +130

Draw: +200

Senegal Wins: +235

o/u: 2

Fun Prop Bets to Take: Robert Lewandowski First Goalscorer (+280), Jakob Blasczykowski Anytime Scorer (+300), Sadio Mane Anytime Scorer (+200)

This is probably the most important game of the group stages for both teams. Realistically the winner of this game is going to advance out of the group, and that puts all sorts of pressure on the players. In Euro 2016, Robert Lewandowski didn’t show up and the Polish were cast out after the group stage. Since then, he’s scored nearly 20 goals in qualifying and friendlies. Will he get that Euro monkey off his back? I hate to be that guy but…Give me a 2-2 draw. 

Russia (-0.5) vs. Egypt (+0.5)

Russia Win: +115

Draw: +190

Egypt Win: +300

o/u: 2

Fun Prop Bets to Take: Mohamed Salah to Score a Hat Trick (+5000), Mohamed Salah to Score 2 or More Goals (+1000), 4 Second-Half Injury Time Minutes (+300), Over 3.5 Bookings (+100)

Egypt came SO close to escaping the Uruguay game with an important point. But their resilience was broken in the 89th winner from a corner kick. Russia, on the other hand, took care of business and took Saudi Arabia to the cleaners with a 5-0 win. Now sitting atop the group with a +5 goal differential and 3 points, they’re in the best place they could have hoped for. Unfortunately for them, it seems like somebody’s back…

Egypt’s number 10 and Presidential Election Runner Up (I’m serious, he finished 2nd as a write in vote in their election) is fit and good to go. He’s going to challenge Russia’s defense with every kick of the ball. This is not necessarily a must-win for Egypt (they still have to go up against Saudi Arabia’s porous defense while Russia has Uruguay on match day 3), but they do need to nick a point from the Russians if they are to remain in the hunt for the knockout rounds. I want to say this will be a draw but…

Oh, you didn’t think you’d be getting a Bump N Grind reference in a World Cup blog? Welcome to the Thunder Dome

We already took a draw today and taking two draws in a day is no fun. Egypt wins 2-1 thanks to the Puff Gawd Mo Salah. 

Degenerate World Cup Day 5 Picks

Well yesterday was fun. You had Serbia absolutely Serbia Costa Rica to death (with Kolarov’s free kick just the cherry on top), Mexico taking Germany to school (and Ochoa standing on his head), and Brazil got held to a draw by the Swiss. So, what’s next? Let’s get to the action.

*All odds thanks to oddsshark*

 

Sweden (-0.5) vs. South Korea (+0.5)

Sweden Win: -101

Draw: +220

South Korea Win: +270

o/u: 2

Not a lot to say about this game. It shouldn’t be too high scoring and at the end of the day, usually the best player comes through and makes the difference. And I *think* that player is Emil Forsberg. Sweden wins 1-0.

Belgium (-2) vs. Panama (+2)

Belgium Win: -556

Draw: +540

Panama Win: +1400

o/u: 2.5

Belgium is by far the better team in this game, but unfortunately for them, that has been a recipe for a disaster so far in this World Cup. Brazil, Argentina, and Germany have all dropped points on Match Day 1. Will the recipe change with Belgium? I don’t think so, if only because Panama has only 1 win in their last 7 and is the only team to qualify with a negative goal differential. I’m not as high on this Belgium team as most, which probably means they’ll win it all. Give me Hazard and Lukaku on the scoresheet for the Belgians. Belgium wins 2-0.

England (-1.5) vs. Tunisia (+1.5)

England Win: -256

Draw: +310

Tunisia Win: +850

o/u: 2.5

Another game with a huge gulf in talent, but again, this has been a wacky and wild World Cup thus far. England has all the stars, and they’ll be looking to build up a solid goal differential in order to help them win the group. I think the Brits will line up with Jordan Henderson in midfield to try and provide a more attacking set up, and Raheem Sterling gets on the scoresheet to shut up his critics back home. England wins 3-1.

World Cup Day Four: Let’s Get Rich

Alright alright alright. Welcome to the daily money maker everyone. Note, all of these daily blogs will be used with the odds from the good fellas over at oddsshark. Without further adieu, let’s get those bets in.

 

Game One: Costa Rica vs. Serbia

CRC Win: +430

Serbia Win: -143

Draw: +260

The first game of the day, kicking off at 8 am EST, and we have another brawler. Serbia is a popular upset pick to make a run, and the Costa Ricans have a certain level of grit that makes games slow and condensed, which allows them to play their game. CRC has Keylor Navas in net, and a whole lot of inexperience and kids playing the further 10. Serbia has a wealth of experienced and good-but-not great players, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who is my pick to break out and demand a high transfer fee when the tournament is over. Easy pick for me. Serbia Wins 2-0

 

Game Two: Germany vs. Mexico

Germany Win: -182

Mexico Win: +550

Draw: +290

A big game as the defending champs open up against a tough Mexican team. Three things are guaranteed: Joachim Low will do something gross and it will go viral on Twitter, the announcers will shout obnoxiously as soon as someone lines up a shot, only for that shot to go unceremoniously into the crowd, and German Soccer is a well-oiled machine to destroy anything in its path. This one’s easy, even if the game is just kind of a tune-up for the Germans. Germany Wins 3-1.

 

Game Three: Brazil vs. Switzerland

Brazil Win: -315

Switzerland Win: +1050

Draw: +390

Everyone knows their past. The 2002 World Cup win. The 7-1 in Brazil. Well welcome to this iteration of the Brazilian squad. And these boys are deep all over the board. Brazil’s coach Tite has the team running on all cylinders. Look out. The Swiss on the other hand have….Granit Xhaka (who many Arsenal fans hate) and Xherdan Shaqiri (relegated from Premier League this year). Seems simple right? Welp, yes and no. The Swiss are dangerous but they don’t live on nearly the same floor as the Brazilians, who are also in good form. Brazil win 3-0.

 

That’s it for today and I’ll catch you tomorrow when we’re all trying to explain to Venmo why our accounts just tripled in size. Good work everyone and I’ll see you on the other side of the money tree.

 

-Gos