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  • Best Bets For The World Cup Round Of 16

    Best bets for the World Cup round of 16

    James Eastham

    The round of 16 begins on Saturday after an exciting and perhaps surprising group stage. Here's a look at how to bet the round of 16, including every game, as well as another review of the best futures bets.

    Betting strategy

    There's one clear betting strategy to consider across the eight fixtures that will take place during the four-day period of the second round.

    At each of the past three World Cups, backing the draw after 90 minutes (in this instance, ignore the potential for 30 minutes of extra time and penalties) in games in which there was no odds-on favorite would have earned you a profit.

    In 2006, there were three such matchups, and one of them ended in a stalemate. The odds on the game that ended in a draw were big enough to ensure that you earned a profit even though the other two bets failed to pay out. In 2010, there were four such matchups, with two of them ending in draws at odds that produced an overall profit. Then four years ago, there were four second-round clashes with no odds-on favorite, and two ended in draws.

    Looking across the round of 16 matches this year, four have no odds-on favorite: France vs. Argentina, Uruguay vs. Portugal, Sweden vs. Switzerland and Colombia vs. England. With recent tournament history being as it is at this stage of the competition, we recommend that you back the draw (after 90 minutes) in all four of these fixtures.

    Round of 16 matches

    France vs. Argentina

    Pre-tournament fourth favorite France has disappointed so far, with star man Antoine Griezmann a shadow of the player who emerged as the 2016 Euro's best performer and top scorer. With the Atletico Madrid striker's form a genuine concern, it's difficult to back France with any confidence to win in 90 minutes. Lionel Messi has proved a more inspiring figure for Argentina, although his supporting cast is less impressive than Griezmann's is for France. Looking across the two sides, there's no reason to favor one over the other, nor are there solid grounds to expect a high-scoring encounter. These two teams have scored just six goals (three each) in six games between them.

    Best bet: Draw (2-1)

    Uruguay vs. Portugal

    The market is finding it almost impossible to separate these two sides, and that makes sense when you look at the starting lineups and the way they've performed at the tournament. Uruguay has yet to concede a goal and has looked dangerous in attack thanks to the presence of forwards Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez -- the two have scored three of Uruguay's five goals. Portugal can thank four-goal top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo for its place in the knockout phase, and while it may lack technical prowess, it has bags of tournament know-how. Given how well-matched the teams are, it would be no surprise to see this game go to extra time or penalties.

    Best bet: Draw (+185)

    Spain vs. Russia

    How good is Russia? The host scored eight times across two opening-round victories against Saudi Arabia (5-0) and Egypt (3-1) but crumbled the first time it came up against decent opposition (3-0 loss to Uruguay). Once again it'll be able to count on tremendous support, but the roar of home fans cannot atone for technical and tactical shortcomings. Spain is a much better side but has yet to show it. The Spaniards labored against Iran (1-0) and were unimpressive versus Morocco (2-2). The one factor uniting these two sides is poor defensive play -- between them, they have conceded nine goals (1.5 per match). Defensive frailties, coupled with the fact that the game's likely to be played at a relatively high pace in front of a partisan crowd, make the over the smart selection.

    Best bet: Over 2.5 total goals (+120)

    Last edited by Wagerallsports; 06-30-2018, 03:19 AM.

  • Croatia vs. Denmark

    Croatia is one of three teams, joining Uruguay and Belgium, to qualify from the group phase with a perfect record. Its performance against Argentina (3-0) was one of the most impressive of the opening round of matches. In
    Luka Modric
    , it has one of the tournament's best players. Denmark has a talented playmaker of its own in
    Christian Eriksen
    , but it is a less inventive side than Croatia. Denmark's strong point is the defense, evidenced by not conceding a goal in open play in its three group games. Expect Croatia to patiently probe from all angles in attack while Denmark sits back and soaks up as much pressure as it can. Given the game's likely pattern, a low 90-minute goal count would be no surprise.

    Best bet: Under 2 total goals (-130)

    Brazil vs. Mexico

    Ignore the naysayers, Brazil has impressed. It dropped points versus Switzerland (1-1) in controversial circumstances owing to a foul the match officials appeared to overlook. It was then the better team versus Costa Rica (2-0) before cruising past Serbia (2-0) without breaking sweat. Its defending has been excellent,
    Philippe Coutinho
    has thrived in midfield and there's more to come from the attackers. Mexico is mobile, inventive and energetic but will struggle to match Brazil's power and may run itself into the ground trying to break up Brazil's passing patterns. Tite's men are short-priced favorites (-210) to win in 90 minutes, so the Asian Handicap is a worthy alternative. With our pick, you'll get your stakes back if Brazil wins by a single goal and make a profit if it wins by two or more goals.

    Best bet: Brazil -1 (-115)

    Belgium vs. Japan

    The tournament top scorer with nine goals, Belgium will relish letting loose its attackers on a limited Japan side that was lucky to make it through to the knockout phase. There's an obvious individual and collective gulf in quality between these two sides that means Roberto Martinez's Diables Rouges -- now third favorites to win the trophy -- ought to cruise through to the quarterfinals with minimum fuss. Given the style of play Martinez encourages, there's no way Belgium will sit back if and when it takes the lead, especially as
    Romelu Lukaku
    (four goals) will have his eye on collecting the Golden Boot. Belgium dispatched Panama (3-0) and Tunisia (5-2) in emphatic fashion and is capable of doing the same to Japan.

    Best bet: Belgium -1 (-145)

    Sweden vs. Switzerland

    It's hard to understand why Sweden is the underdog (+210) given how it performed in the group phase. Janne Andersson's players ran out deserving winners over South Korea (1-0) and Mexico (3-0), and only an injury-time
    Toni Kroos
    strike stopped them from picking up a point versus Germany. A solid, well-organized side, Sweden would make for a difficult opponent against anyone. Switzerland needed a controversial equalizer to draw with Brazil (1-1) and a last-minute winner against Serbia (2-1) before dropping points in an admittedly dead-rubber clash versus Costa Rica (2-2). Sweden has the qualities to avoid defeat in 90 minutes, so back the draw or support the Scandinavians with a small Asian Handicap.

    Best bet: Draw (+190)

    Colombia vs. England

    England is a +110 favorite to win in 90 minutes, but its chances appear overhyped given its Group G performances. The English needed an injury-time winner to collect maximum points against Tunisia (2-1), and it would be daft to read too much into the 6-1 win over Panama, as the Central Americans were a poor opposition. Against Japan, Colombia played well with 10 men for 87 minutes and was unlucky to lose 2-1. Jose Pekerman's side was excellent against Poland (3-0) and did enough to see off Senegal (1-0) in its final group match. These two sides are more closely matched than the market suggests, so the draw or Colombia with a small Asian Handicap start are the selections to consider.

    Best bet: Draw (+205)
    Futures market

    Before the tournament began, we backed France and Spain to be crowned world champions. We're happy to stick with those two selections even though neither side has impressed so far. They have the talent (in the case of France) and experience (in the case of Spain) to get better in the coming rounds. Both teams stand a reasonable chance of going deep in the competition, as they cannot meet before the final.

    If you're looking for a team to back now, Brazil is the pick. It has yet to hit top gear but has everything you'd look for in a World Cup-winning side: a reliable goalkeeper in Alisson, a solid defense (Brazil has conceded only one goal so far, and you can make a case that it should have been ruled out for a foul) and midfield power thanks to a highly effective trio of Casemiro, Paulinho and Coutinho. In attack, there have been flashes of quality from Neymar, who's been well-marked by opponents but is mentally stronger than many critics give him credit for and likely to get better as Brazil progresses. As the favorite, Brazil is a short price, but right now, it's difficult to look beyond that team.

    Best bet: Brazil (3-1)


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