We’re almost at the halfway point and whilst there is much football left to be played, it’s becoming clearer who will be making the cut for the final 16 and who won’t. We’ve got some exciting matches here that could decide the fate of a few more teams so without babbling on too much let’s just get stuck into it.
**Betting odds from Betfair as at 19th June 2014
Italy ($1.57) versus Costa Rica ($7.4), Draw ($4.2)
Italy were in good touch in their first outing with England winning 2-1 with Pirlo allowed too much space to do what he does best. The 3 points from that game will have certainly taken off some of the pressure in what is arguably the toughest group in the World Cup. They come up against a Costa Rica side that handed Uruguay a reality check with a 3-1 win in what was a really strong second half performance coming from 1-0 down to take the lead with 2 goals in 3 minutes early in the second half. That’s perhaps the danger for Italy here in that they are a side that can quickly change a game. They have some exciting players in particular Joel Campbell who could well find himself a place in Arsenal’s line-up next season if he continues his strong start. Costa Rica will be in a confident mood for this one so expect them to come out firing as they really have nothing to lose and I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see them snatch a goal at some point. In the end though, Italy will be tough to beat and I can see them holding out for a win to push them through to the last 16 which will relax things a little for their final game with Uruguay.
Predicted score: Italy 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $2.04 (85%)
Next Best: Both teams to score at $2.14
Value option: Balotelli to score first at $4.2 or $1.72 to score anytime.
Switzerland ($5) versus France ($1.87), Draw ($3.7)
The Swiss had a last minute win over Ecuador in their opening fixture thanks to a stoppage time goal from substitute Seferovic, but this exciting side face a tough test coming up against France. France had a pretty comfortable win in the end over Honduras but it perhaps wasn’t until Palacios was sent off for a second yellow that the game really opened up so they’ll need to improve here because this Swiss side will be a much tougher opponent. We can’t forget either that this is a Swiss side that has had wins over Brazil and Germany in the last few years so they are by no means out of their depth. A win here for either side will also push them through to the last 16 so we should see a good battle. It’s a game littered with exciting young players so it’s certainly one I’ll be getting up for. Players such as Pogba and Griezmann for France and Rodriguez and Shaqiri for the Swiss are a few to keep an eye on especially as they could well find themselves in the EPL in the coming years. In the end though we should see a good contest here but I fancy France to go deep in this World Cup and if they can build on their first game with a good performance here then they are well on their way.
Predicted score: France 2-1
Best Bet: Both teams to score at $1.93 (80%)
Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $2.14
Value option: France half Time/Full time Double at $3.2
Honduras ($5.8) versus Ecuador ($1.7), Draw ($4)
Honduras endured a tough start to their World Cup campaign with a 3-0 loss to France compounded by the loss of key midfielder Wilson Palacios who was sent off for a second yellow card. Ecuador on the other hand can count themselves unlucky to concede in stoppage time against Switzerland to go down narrowly 2-1. They’ll be looking to respond here for a win knowing that the Swiss have a tough encounter against France and they certainly played well enough in their first hit out to get a win here. I can see Honduras getting frustrated here again by an Ecuador attack that is capable of piling on the goals if they’re in good touch but one thing the Ecuadorians will need to improve is their defence. Their previous 5 games including the Switzerland match means they’ve conceded in their past 5 for a total of 11 goals. That could give the Hondurans a sniff knowing that they’re opponents are vulnerable defensively and with nothing to lose I’d expect this side to come out firing early to pile the pressure on Ecuador who know they have to win. Whilst I feel the upper hand is with Ecuador to get the 3 points, the fact they are vulnerable defensively could mean we see both teams scoring here.
Predicted score: Ecuador 2-1
Best Bet: Both teams to score at $1.81 (85%)
Next Best: Ecuador clean sheet – No at $1.63
Value option: Ecuador to win by 1 goal margin at $3.55
All of the above are the opinions of the author and are not recommendations or advice. The author may not be taking every bet listed above. Bet at your own risk.
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