Tuesday the 22nd of November is a date that will live long in the memory as it was the date that the footballing world was well and truly shaken to its core.
Prior to the kick-off between Argentina and Saudi Arabia, only a handful of individuals would have challenged the World Cup betting odds and backed the overwhelming underdogs, and even less would have dared place a bet at half-time when Lionel Messi had put the South American side in control, but nonetheless the unthinkable did indeed occur.
Lionel Messi’s Argentina Rocked by Saudis
If you had placed a bet on Argentina leading Saudi Arabia at half-time, only for Lionel Scaloni’s side to end up losing the game, then you’d be a very rich punter at this stage, but the likelihood of many making such a wager is very low.
It’s hard to get across in mere words just how much of a shock result the 2-1 win for Herve Renard’s side really was, and it’s arguably one of the biggest surprises in the history of the tournament.
It’s all the more shocking when you consider Argentina were well in control at the break, having scored their spot-kick and also seeing other efforts ruled out by VAR. Whatever Renard said to his team at half-time, it worked.
Argentina could not cope with how Saudi Arabia performed in the second half, and the victory was well deserved, and many will now wonder how Messi’s final World Cup will turn out.
There is still a very good chance that they’ll qualify from Group C, and if this is a bet you’d like to cover, then the 4/9 offered by BoyleSports may tempt you. The fact that the other game in the group, Poland vs Mexico, ended in a goalless draw certainly aids Scaloni, who is sure to make several changes ahead of their next clash.
France Roar Back to Life Against the Aussies
For the best part of 25 minutes, it looked as if Graham Arnold’s Australia would pull off a similar shock by beating reigning World Cup holders France, with Craig Goodwin putting them ahead after nine minutes in Al Wakrah.
However, Didier Deschamps showed more reserve than Argentina and led by unstoppable forward Kylian Mbappe, the French roared back into life with goals from Adrien Rabiot and Olivier Giroud, giving them the lead at the break.
Mbappe then made it 3-1 before Giroud scored a fourth with his 51st goal for Les Bleus, which sees him level with Thierry Henry as the all-time leading goal-scorer for the French national team.
In the other Group D clash, Tunisia held Denmark to something of a lifeless draw.
Unfancied Germany Have a Point to Prove
Germany start their World Cup campaign against Japan, and for once, they are not heavily fancied to achieve much, and that may well aid Hansi Flick’s chances. We believe that the Germans have a strong enough squad to make a real impact, and they should have too much for Japan.
With this in mind, why not back a double of Thomas Muller to net first and Germany to win, 17/2, with Grosvenor Sports.
Spain to Stutter Against Costa Rica
Conversely, a lot is expected of Luis Enrique’s Spanish national team, but we feel they may not fare as well as many are predicting. The chief reason for this is a distinct lack of a cutting edge up front.
Alvaro Morata is once again the player that Spain will rely upon and the experienced forward, who’s never been prolific, isn’t in the best of form this season (netting five times in 19 appearances for Atletico Madrid). Barcelona’s Ferran Torres is another player Enrique will depend upon to unlock opposition defences, and he, too, isn’t exactly in a rich vein of form.
With this in mind, and with Costa Rica being a very capable opponent in World Cup action, and the 16/1 from BoyleSports on the minnows beating Spain is too good to pass up.
Elsewhere Belgium should rack up the goals against Canada, while Croatia may have to dig deep to defeat Morocco, so we’d favour a single-goal victory for the 2018 World Cup runners-up.