Best bets for the World Cup semifinals
Only four teams remain in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. France and Belgium will face off on Tuesday, before Croatia meets England on Wednesday.
Here are the best bets for both matches in the semifinals
Note: All odds are via Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook as of Monday unless otherwise noted.
Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET
Belgium is within a game of reaching the World Cup final for the first time, but being within touching distance of history is unlikely to make manager Roberto Martinez change his philosophical approach to the game. Les Diables Rouges have been this World Cup's great entertainers, and while they may have tightened up a touch defensively as the tournament has progressed, they'll look to outscore France rather than relying on defensive obduracy to make their way into the final.
Four of the five games that Belgium has played have been open and exciting affairs, and this match is likely to follow suit. The tournament top scorer with 14 goals, Belgium will be able to count on the front three of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku that tore Brazil apart at times in its 2-1 quarterfinal win.
The French defense -- excellent thus far -- faces possibly its toughest test of the competition. Yet France might also benefit from facing a Belgium side that has conceded three goals in two knockout games and naturally leaves a little more space in wide defensive areas than many fans would feel comfortable with. France's flying teenager, Kylian Mbappe, is likely to find more space behind the Belgium defense than he was able to exploit against Uruguay (2-0 win) in the quarterfinals, meaning it's difficult to see France not scoring at some point in the game. Over 90 minutes, attacks should have a minor edge over defenses, making high goals the pick.
If you followed our ante-post tip on France (6-1) to win the tournament, you may want to back Belgium (+110) to qualify for the final.
Best bet: Over 2.5 total goals (+110)
Croatia (+250) vs. England (+130)
Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET
England has reached the semifinals of the World Cup for the first time in 28 years, and fans seem increasingly optimistic about their team's chances of qualifying for the Sunday night showdown in Moscow. Gareth Southgate's side produced its most consistently impressive performance of the tournament in beating Sweden 2-0 in Saturday's quarterfinal, and there's a feeling the Three Lions are getting more attuned to the demands of tournament football while keeping their cool as the competition progresses. England's players will understandably draw confidence from having kept their first clean sheet of the tournament against Sweden, and Southgate will be quietly pleased that his team was able to win relatively comfortably without needing six-goal tournament top scorer Harry Kane to net any.
Croatia will be no pushover, though. Technically superior to England in midfield thanks to the skills of Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric -- the latter arguably the player of the tournament so far -- it'll ask questions of England's wing backs and three central defenders in a way Sweden failed to. Croatia has shown great durability by overcoming opponents in extra time and on penalties in the last two rounds while boasting greater firepower than many give it credit for. It has scored 10 goals to England's 11 so far, but has been less reliant on set pieces than England and didn't have the luxury of facing rank outsider Panama, the team England scored six against in the opening round. The market makes England clear favorites, but there's less to pick between these teams than many think, making the 90-minute draw the selection.
Best bet: Draw (+205)