offside bet

Friday and Saturday this past week saw the four World Cup Quarterfinal games contested and the results of these games means that there are just four teams remaining in the tournament that can win the World Cup.

Let’s take a quick look at how the quarterfinals panned out before we preview each of the two semifinal games coming up on Tuesday and Wednesday evening (7pm kick off BST for both games).

World Cup Quarterfinals

France 2 (Varane 40, Griezmann 61)

Uruguay 0

France moved strongly into the semifinal on the back of a solid performance against a Uruguay side that had their attacking impetus severely dented by the absence of Edinson Cavani, the striker who had netted two goals in the country’s 2-1 win over Portugal in the previous round. In truth, Uruguay were a shadow of the attacking force shown in that game and France made them pay.

First Raphael Varane nodded home Griezmann’s free kick just before half time to give the French the lead and then in the second half, a horrific blunder from Uruguay keeper Muslera saw him fumbled Griezmann’s shot into the net to hand France a comfortable win and a place in the semifinal.

Brazil 1 (Augusto 76)

Belgium 2 (Fernandinho OG 13, De Bruyne 31)

Playing France in the first semifinal will be Belgium after the Belgians came through an exciting game of two halves against Brazil, in the process sending the only remaining non-European team out of the tournament. Brazil dominated possession early on but when Belgium countered they looked dangerous and from a corner on 13 minutes, Kompany’s flick on hit Fernandinho on the arm and flew into the net to give the Belgians a lead they probably deserved.

The Belgian’s always looked very dangerous on the counter and on 31 minutes doubled their lead when a superb surge by Kevin De Bruyne saw him finish unerringly with a powerful shot into the bottom corner of the net.

The second half saw Belgium sit back as Brazil dominated possession and despite creating chances, Brazil either fluffed their lines, or saw Laurent Courtois in formidable form, repelling their best chances. However he was helpless on 76 minutes when sub Augusto headed home Coutinho’s clever chip to give Brazil a chance.

However, they couldn’t find a way through and in the end Belgium hung on to record a famous win and in the process, earning themselves a place in the World Cup semifinal.

Sweden 0

England 2 (Maguire 30, Alli 58)

England moved into their first World Cup semifinal since 1990 (and only their third in history) with a comfortable 2-0 win over Sweden. A header from Harry Maguire opened the scoring after half an hour of a first half that England dominated in terms of possession and chances created. Indeed had Sterling been a little more ruthless in front of goal, England could have been two or three up at the interval.

In the second half Sweden pushed on and made Pickford make a solid save from Berg’s header, but on 58 minutes, Lingard’s first time cross found Alli unmarked at the back post to head home. Once again Sweden pressed but found Pickford in fine form, the keeper making two further fine stops from Claessen and Berg.  In the end, England saw the game out comfortably to claim a semifinal spot against either Russia or Croatia.

Russia 2 (Cheryshev 31, Mario Fernandes 115)

Croatia 2 (Kramatic 39, Vida 100) – Croatia win 4-3 on penalties

In a dramatic night in Sochi, Mario Fernandes went from Russia’s hero to villain in the space of a few minutes as Croatia snatched a penalty victory in what was an enthralling and sapping game between the two teams.

Denis Cheryshev opened the scoring with his fourth goal of the tournament, a fantastic shot from outside the box which gave Subasic no chance. However just eight minutes later, Kramaric headed home Mandzukic’s cross after some questionable Russian defending to level matters.

With no further goals in the second half, extra time was required and on 100 minutes, Croatia took the lead when Vida’s header somehow squirmed past every Russian defender and into the net. Russia pushed forward and on 115 minutes, Dzagoev’s free kick was headed home superbly by Fernandes to level matters and push the game into penalties.

Russia got off to a poor start when Smolov’s awful penalty was saved by Subasic, but they levelled matters when Kovacic’s shot was saved by Akinfeev, however Fernandes, the hero just minutes before, missed the very next penalty and despite Russia scoring their final two, successful penalties from Modric, Vida and Rakitic saw Croatia progress.

World Cup Semi Finals

Tuesday 10th July

France v Belgium

Venue – St Petersburg

Probable France XI – 4-2-3-1 – Lloris, Pavard, Hernandez, Varane, Umtiti, Kante, Pogba, Matuidi, Griezmann, Mbappe, Giroud

Probable Belgium XI – 3-4-2-1 – Courtois, Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen, Fellaini, Witsel, Chadli, Carrasco, Hazard.E, De Bruyne, Lukaku

Match Result Odds (90 minutes)

  • France to win – 31/20
  • Draw 9/4
  • Belgium to win – 21/10

France are starting this game as the clear favourites but I have to say that I think Belgium are a more enticing bet. I think they have the players to cause this French defence some real problems, something we have not yet seen at the World Cup is the French defence under real pressure and I think there are weaknesses there Belgium can exploit.

However, I do see this being a game that will require extra time or even penalties to decide the winner, hence my tip here would be to take the draw at 90 minutes at 9/4 with bet365. You could also back the draw/both teams to score – yes market which is an 8/1 shot with bet365 at the time of writing.

Wednesday 11th July

Croatia v England

Venue – Moscow (Luzhniki)

Probable Croatia XI – 4-2-3-1 – Subasic, Vrsaljko, Strinic, Lovren, Vida, Brozovic, Rakitic, Modric, Rebic, Perisic, Mandzukic

Probable England XI – 5-3-2 – Pickford, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Trippier, Young, Henderson, Lingard, Alli, Sterling, Kane

Match Result Odds (90 minutes)

  • Croatia to win – 5/2
  • Draw – 21/10
  • England to win – 11/8

England start as slight favourites here, perhaps because they weren’t taken to extra time and penalties twice as Croatia were and also because they looked strong against Sweden. Croatia though have some outstanding talent and their formation and style of play will offer England the sternest test of their back line so far in the World Cup.

However, I think England equally can cause this Croatian back line some problems and although this is a game that I think will be close, I think the Three Lions will just about grab the win here, so I’d back England to win at 11/8 with bet365 or, you can get England to win and both teams to score at 9/2 with bet365.

And no, as an England fan, I can scarcely believe that I typed that!