And then there were eight.
The FIFA World Cup in Qatar has proven a massive success thus far, both in terms of high-quality drama and surprise results, and where we started with 32 footballing superpowers, we are now down to the final eight, and the excitement is building nicely.
For those of you who have made outright World Cup bets, no doubt the anticipation of a possible payout is now starting to hit home. Will your 2022 World Cup winner bet come to fruition? Is your pick for the Golden Boot a realistic possibility? And most importantly, can England finally lay their 54-year hoodoo to rest?!
The quarter-final line-up is a very tasty one, and though the group stages were full of shocks, the general make-up of the final eight is to be expected, with the exception perhaps of Morocco, and now the games will get tighter and tighter, and the World Cup betting possibilities become more and more enticing.
Croatia vs Brazil
Brazil are purring along nicely, and their first-half demolition of South Korea was a sign of how Tite’s side are now getting their game into gear, and we don’t feel they’ll have much of an issue disposing of a Croatian side that is very long in the tooth.
Far too many of Zlatko Dalic’s side are in the latter stages of their careers, and the longer the tournament goes on, the more tired their best players become. Luka Modric was hauled off during Croatia’s win over Japan, and that’s a sign of how heavy-legged the team is as a whole.
No doubt much of the Education City Stadium will be vehemently backing the Samba stars, and frankly, this game will not even be close.
Consider an 8/1 bet from BoyleSports on Brazil winning and Neymar and Richarlison both scoring, and the teams as a whole scoring four or more.
BRAZIL to win by at least two goals in this one.
Netherlands vs Argentina
This is a very evenly-matched clash and one between two teams that haven’t exactly set the world alight in this tournament yet. Louis van Gaal’s men eased through a very poor group and then defeated the United States 3-1 in a game where the scoreline was far more definitive than the game itself.
Cody Gakpo and Memphis Depay have impressed when used together, and they could cause problems for the Argentina defence, but on the whole, it is Lionel Scaloni’s side that are the slight favourites for this encounter.
Lionel Messi has been impressive as the South American side have turned things around since their shock opening match defeat to Saudi Arabia, and they will feel confident against a Dutch side that is more workmanlike than jam-packed with creativity.
One big plus for Scaloni’s side at the 2022 World Cup has been the performances of Man City youngster Julian Alvarez, and we’d use that as the basis of a decent double. You’ll get 13/2 on Argentina winning and the Etihad Stadium star netting the first goal, and that offer from BoyleSports is worth backing.
ARGENTINA to cruise into the semi-finals
Morocco vs Portugal
Morocco have been a massive success in Qatar, both in terms of their results and the impact fans of the Atlas Lions have had on the tournament as a whole. In many ways, Walid Ragragui’s side have been a breath of fresh air, and they now face a very stern test.
Portugal boss Fernando Santos took a massive risk and left Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench for their Round of 16 clash with Switzerland and then watched on as the replacement for the veteran forward, who is now without a club after his ‘tell-all’ interview with Piers Morgan, Goncalo Ramos scored a hat-trick and provided an assist in a 6-1 hammering.
So what now for Portugal? It’s likely Ronaldo will once again miss out, and we think they’ll have a little bit too much about them for the North African side.
You can expect Ramos to continue where he left off, and a 23/5 bet on the Benfica man opening the scoring and Portugal winning is a nice double from Grosvenor Sports. You can get 9/2 on Ronaldo being the opening goal-scorer in a Portugal win, but that’s more of a longshot, given he’s unlikely to start.
PORTUGAL to win, but only just. Perhaps they’ll win on penalties with Ronaldo firing home the key spot-kick?
England vs France
This meeting of two old enemies promises to be an explosive clash and one that will be eagerly watched by millions of England fans, hoping that Gareth Southgate’s side can overcome a French team that is bubbling up nicely.
A common refrain from those who don’t feel either team is quite up there in terms of quality is that neither side has played a really good team yet, until now. England fans will be buoyed by the way their attacking talents have performed.
Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden, Marcus Rashford and Jude Bellingham have been in awesome form, and Harry Kane has offered far more than just finishing ability, and the options in the final third will provide a real headache for Didier Dechamps’ back-line.
The problem for Southgate is that the French will do much the same, and one wonders just what PSG forward Kylian Mbappe may have in store for the likes of Kyle Walker and central defensive pair John Stones and Harry Maguire.
Mbappe has been in outstanding form and will more than likely be all the difference when these two fairly even teams face each other.
England fans who want to back the Three Lions should consider a fairly basic but entirely plausible double from Grosvenor Sports. Here you’ll get 21/4 on England winning and both teams scoring.
Those who are less optimistic, or indeed French fans, should take advantage of a 9/1 BoyleSports offer on France to win on penalties.
The head says France, and the heart says England. We will back ENGLAND to progress in a goal-filled thriller.