Both semi-finals will be all-European ties, with Belgium and Croatia looking to win first world title
This coming week will see the semi-final ties in the 2018 FIFA World Cup be played, with only European sides left at this stage of the competition. And while France and England are looking to win their second global crown, both Belgium and Croatia are just two matches away from winning the biggest prize in football for the first time.
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On Tuesday (10 July), 1998 World Cup winners France take on a much fancied Belgium side. France have won four out of their five games at this summer’s tournament without ever really convincing fans that they are playing as a fully cohesive unit, despite the wealth of stellar names in their squad.
Belgium, by way of comparison, boast a 100 per cent record in Russia and have looked better with each game. In the knock-out stages, the Red Devils came from two goals down against Japan to win 3-2 before dumping favourites Brazil out of the tournament at the quarter-final stage with a fine 2-1 win.
And it is Belgium who have the better recent record against one of their oldest rivals. France have won just won of their last five meetings with the Belgians, and you can back Roberto Martinez’s side to inflict more misery on the Blues inside 90 minutes at a price of 3.10, meaning you could triple any potential investment.
Regardless of their disappointing recent form against Belgium, it is nevertheless France who come into this tie as the favourites to reach the final. Didier Deschamps’ side are priced at just 1.72 to progress, and you can back them at 2.55 to beat Belgium by the end of normal time.
With both sides liking to play football on the front foot, you can expect goals in this one. Backing over 2.5 goals in the game could see you more than double your money at a price of 2.10, while under 2.5 goals is slightly shorter at 1.70.
And given the confidence boost the Belgian players will have taken from their win over Brazil, we are backing them to make it six wins in a row at the World Cup. While it is of course never easy predicting the exact score of any given tie, a repeat of the 2-1 win that saw off Brazil is priced competitively at 13.00.
The second semi-final, to be played on the following day, will see England take on Croatia. Gareth Southgate’s side has been one of the surprise packages of the tournament, and after a slow start are now just 90 minutes away from only a second World cup final in their history.
And it is England who come into the clash as slight favourites to make it all the way to the final. The Three Lions are priced at 2.37 to win the match inside 90 minutes, while Croatia are slightly further out at 3.50 to do the same.
The last time these two sides met in a competitive fixture was close to a decade ago, with England thrashing their opponents 5-1 in a World Cup qualifier back in 2009. No one is expecting it to be as one-sided on this occasion, however.
These two teams look to be evenly matched and there is a good chance we could go to extra time and even penalties. England are at 10.00 to win after either extra time or penalties, while Croatia’s prices alter slightly: 13.00 to win after 120 minutes, but 10.00 to win via a shoot-out.
Croatia put in an impressive performance to beat Argentina 3-0 in the group stages, but have looked less than reliable during the knock-out phase of the competition. They needed penalties to beat both Denmark and Russia, and 240 minutes of football could leave them short of energy as this match enters the final stages.
Indicators do seem to point to an England win but it is unlikely to be a walkover. There may be fewer goals in this one, and you can back under 2.5 goals at just 1.50 – a comfortable 2-0 win for England, like they managed in the quarter-final against Sweden, is priced at 11.00.
World Cup semi-final odds:
Tuesday, 10 July
9.00pm – (2.55) France x Belgium (3.10); draw (3.25)
Wednesday, 11 July
9.00pm – (3.60) Croatia x England (2.35); draw (3.10)
World Cup winners:
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