Argentina Faces Tough Challenge; Denmark and France Look Secure

Martin Green

Monday, June 18, 2018 3:08 PM UTC

Monday, Jun. 18, 2018 3:08 PM UTC

Argentina's must-win game against Croatia is the key matchup among Thursday's World Cup fixtures, while Denmark and France should pick up victories earlier in the day.

World Cup: Best Bets Across Thursday MatchesDenmark vs. Australia

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The Danes produced a stubborn performance to see off a strong Peru side and secure a 1-0 victory in their opening game. They now face the Socceroos, who also impressed, but eventually slumped to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of France. This is likely to be another ferociously competitive game between two teams that can ill afford to lose, but ultimately Denmark’s superior individual talent could shine through.

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🇩🇰 Congratulations to @ChrisEriksen8 who provided an assist as Denmark beat Peru 1-0 in their opening @FIFAWorldCup game. 👏#WorldCup pic.twitter.com/4fhZpKxhip

— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) June 16, 2018
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In Christian Eriksen, the Danes have one of the most creative and dynamic players at this tournament. He threaded a fine through ball for Yussuf Poulsen to slot in the only goal of the game as they beat Peru, and he will be central to their chances of success against Australia. The Socceroos battled hard against France, but they looked a little toothless in attack, and that could be their undoing in this game. Denmark are -120 with Bet365 to win it and that looks like a good bet. If you want more value, you could try Denmark to win and under 3.5 goals at +130. All but two of the opening 11 games in this tournament saw under 3.5 goals, and this looks like developing into another tense, low-scoring encounter.

France vs. Peru

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The French did just enough to secure victory against Australia, but their performance left a lot to be desired. A front three of Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele looks hugely impressive on paper, but it looked a bit lightweight against the Aussies. Didier Deschamps has a decision to make ahead of their next game, as he could drop one of them – probably Dembele – and bring in Olivier Giroud as a focal point, a big battering ram of a centre forward to mix things up a bit.

Peru huffed and puffed, but to little avail against Denmark. They deserve credit for their positive approach to the game, but they were ultimately wasteful in front of goal. They also lacked a bit of quality and composure in the final third, as a few final balls were wayward, and that could see them dumped out of this tournament at the first hurdle. France are vastly superior in every department, and they really should win the midfield battle, create plenty of chances and surge to victory in this game. They are -187 with Bet365 to pull it off, and some punters might fancy putting that in a double with Denmark.

Argentina vs. Croatia

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Argentina made a poor start to their World Cup campaign by slumping to a 1-1 draw against Iceland, with Lionel Messi missing a penalty. The onus on them now is to beat Croatia, who beat Nigeria 2-0 and sit top of the group. But that looks like an extremely difficult task. For all their attacking brilliance, Argentina look poor in midfield, and Croatia’s Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic should fancy their chances of winning the battle against Lucas Biglia and Javier Mascherano, who looks a little past it now.

Another problem Argentina have is that they cannot fit all their star strikers into the same team. Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala, who would walk into almost any other team in the world, were benched, and Mauro Icardi did not even make the squad. At the same time, they are stuck with a Chelsea reserve in goal, with a Manchester United reserve marshaling the defence in front of him, alongside Man City’s error-prone Nicolas Otamendi. Argentina should score in this game, as Messi and Sergio Aguero will be extremely dangerous, while Higuain and Dybala can come on and threaten. But they are also likely to concede against a Croatia team with plenty of talent in wide areas and Modric feeding balls for Juventus forward Mario Mandzukic. Both teams to score looks interesting at -105 with Bet365.

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