Cash Your World Cup Semifinals Prop Bets Like English Gentlemen

Rainman M.

Sunday, July 8, 2018 2:08 PM UTC

Sunday, Jul. 8, 2018 2:08 PM UTC

France meets Belgium on Tuesday, and England meets Croatia on Wednesday in an all-European World Cup semifinals. France and England promise to advance, but in different ways.

World Cup Semifinals: Prop BetsFrance vs. Belgium (Tuesday, 2 p.m. ET)

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Metrically speaking, Belgium should be thankful for defeating a Brazil side that mustered 17 shots on target. Based on expected goals, (xG) Brazil should have won because they created better chances. They "achieved" about three expected goals, but failed to score because they did a lot of choking, missing multiple golden opportunities in front of goal — with even Philippe Coutinho, who had scored two goals so far, missing wide a simple-looking goal from in front of the net. Knowing this metric is important because, on the scoreboard, it looks like Belgium’s defense may have improved itself, "limiting" Brazil to one goal fewer than it did Japan. But in reality, Belgium boasts tremendous talent in the back, but its system doesn’t work because opponents are able to find too much open space and create too many chances. France will have chances and boasts awesome individual quality, and that’s all a bettor can reasonably ask for. Look for Antoine Griezmann to score. Griezmann had a rough start to this tournament, but the man with the coolest goal celebrations told his soft critics not to worry. Like in the 2016 Euros, he needed time to work his way into the tournament. He has now achieved three goals so far and you can bet on him to score at +175. Kylian Mbappe has also been a weapon with his pace and finishing ability. He has three goals so far and you can bet on him to add to that total at +210. France over 1.5 goals looks juicy at +150.

Belgium will need to score plenty and boasts numerous attacking options. They showed amazing competence in the counter or on the break. Midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, who had 16 assists for Manchester City, is Belgium’s emotional and tactical leader with his ability to slice open a defense with his passing skills —a s he showed on one instance with a through-ball to teammate Fellaini, that set up a corner. Striker Romelu Lukaku contributed to the build-up with his size, which allowed him to hold possession, and his passing. De Bruyne and Eden Hazard are able to help each other out, with Hazard running wide to diffuse congestion in the midfield and De Bruyne demanding the defense’s attention in the middle. The Belgians respect Lukaku’s threat in front of goal and it’s apparent that Lukaku expects to be given the ball for scoring opportunities. He has four goals in four matches so far and you can bet on him to score at +150. Two defenders deserve mention: Belgium’s Vincent Kompany and France’s Raphael Varane. Both boast nice height and size, which contribute to their aerial ability. So I don’t expect the first goal to be a header and you can consider laying -163 on the first goal to be a shot.

In anticipation of a high-scoring affair, you can get over 2.5 goals for +115 and lay -125 for both teams to score. Consider splitting a unit on France to score in both halves at +300 and Belgium to do so at +350. I trust France’s defense more than Belgium’s because of its system and managerial competence. Consider France and over 2.5 goals at +333 and an England versus France final at +187.

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Croatia vs. England (Wednesday, 2 p.m. ET)

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England will have the advantage of being physically and mentally fresher after what looked like a relatively easy 2-0 win against a Swedish side whose defense made uncharacteristic errors and whose top two offensive players (striker Marcus Berg and midfielder Emil Forsberg) barely influenced the match. Conversely, Croatia had to play thirty minutes of extra time and survive the nerve-wracking experience of penalty kicks for a second consecutive match. The Croatians looked gassed. During extra time, several of them, including goalkeeper Danijel Subasic, who was the hero in the shootout with Denmark, and striker Mario Mandzukic, dropped to the pitch like flies. At some point, Croatia’s legs will not be there for them and it is hard to be effective without legs. If there is any indicator of how Croatia will look against England, think of the first 30 minutes in England’s game against Sweden, in which England’s attack lacked creativity and any sort of flow, following an intense victory in penalties against Colombia. Also think of Serbia’s second-half meltdown against Switzerland after a hyper-aggressive first-half and a tough preceding group match. Teams have shown repeatedly the effects of being physically worn.

Croatia undoubtedly has the stronger midfield, led by Luka Modric of Real Madrid and surrounded by shootout hero Ivan Rakitic of Barcelona and Ivan Perisic of Inter Milan. But England carries the tactical antidote. In order to diffuse Croatia’s advantage in the middle of the field, England can go wide. Kieran Trippier is the key. England likes to play from the back and Trippier has a significant role going forward and boasts meaningful pace and passing ability. He is among World Cup leaders with over 10 created chances. Another source of pace is Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling. He can create an additional nuisance for a dead-legged Croatian side, which will have to stretch itself out in order to account for him. Playmakers like Trippier and Sterling afford England more opportunities in space to create chances. They keep finding ways to score, Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli even connecting for a rare goal from offensive build-up (as opposed to a set piece). Striker Harry Kane was quiet against Sweden’s strong backline, but look for him to score, once goal scorer props are published. Kane’s Croatian counterpart, Mandzukic, has been unimpressive so far, scoring only one goal so far— a fluke against Denmark which literally fell right in front of him after a Dane bounced the ball off a teammate’s face. He’ll continue to struggle against England’s physical and big pair of center-backs, led by the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Harry Maguire, who is primed to sign with a top English club.

After two exhausting 120-minute outings, Croatia must know that it will be at its best before its legs give out again. I think that Croatia will be desperate to get on the front foot and ensure that this game is settled in 90 minutes. You can bet on Croatia to score first at +140 and there’s no better player to invest in than the best man on the pitch, Modric. Croatia should lose its legs and England is primed to wear them down. You can bet on England to score in the second half at -120 and more goals to be scored in the second half at +120. A Croatian first-half goal is priced at +162. Both teams to score is available at +105, England to win from behind is to be had at +900, England over 1.5 goals is +162 and England and over 2.5 is +350.

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