We’re in the final run of Group matches now as we start to see who will make it to the last 16. There’s already a couple of surprises with Costa Rica already sealing their place having won their first two games. Considering the group they were in along with Uruguay, Italy, and England, they have certainly beaten the odds but it just goes to show that determination and teamwork is sometimes much greater than star studded line-ups. There’s some intriguing matchups here that still hold great importance despite some teams having already qualified for the last 16.
**Odds from betfair as at 22nd June
Australia ($9.2) versus Spain ($1.42), Draw ($5.2)
The one we’ll all be getting up for I’m sure. The Socceroos and Spain may both be out of the World Cup but this is a massive chance for the Aussie’s to get a massive win against a hapless Spanish side that are no doubt looking to get back on the plane back to Spain as quickly as possible. On the other hand I’m sure Spain won’t want to lose another game especially against a lowly Australian side so they may well play with a bit more freedom in this one. One thing for sure though is we should see the Socceroos playing with plenty of determination and fight so they’ll definitely be giving 100%. A blow for Australia though is that Tim Cahill will be missing due to that second yellow he gained against the Netherlands. It’s a massive blow and he’ll be difficult to replace given he’s scored 3 of our 4 goals but it opens up an opportunity for highly rated young striker Adam Taggart who I’m sure will do well if given the opportunity. He’s the future of Australia’s attack moving forward so he’ll be keen to show he’s got it at this level. In the end I think we’ll likely see a Spain win but it won’t be the walkover many would normally expect. Expect the Socceroos to take it right up to the former Champs though and another goal is certainly not beyond them even without Tim Cahill. You can see how far the Socceroos have come when they were an outside chance of upsetting the Dutch at around $17 but are into $9.20 here against Spain.
Predicted score: Spain 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.63 (90%)
Next Best: Both teams to score at $1.9
Netherlands ($2.68) versus Chile ($2.88), Draw ($3.55)
Both teams here have already qualified for the last 16 but there is still a lot to play for here so I’d expect a pretty exciting contest. The Dutch currently sit top of Group B with Chile close behind, but both sides will want to win given that a finish on top of the group will likely hand them the easier matchup with Mexico or Croatia (assuming Brazil don’t cop a shock loss to Cameroon). Both sides have been very attacking in their first 2 games with the Dutch amazingly knocking 5 past Spain before adding another 3 in a tight contest with the Socceroos. Chile have been equally impressive with 5 goals scored but have only conceded the 1 goal after keeping a clean sheet against a disappointing Spain. Both sides will be desperate to win here so we could be in for a high scoring contest. Chile have done well defensively thus far but they are prone to conceding and although the Dutch are a little stronger on paper in defence, they too can be a little nervy at the back. This one seems tailor made for goals with Sanchez and Vidal going head to head with Robben although it would have been nice to see RVP in there too but with a second yellow he’ll be out. I’m going for a Chile win here in a tight one. They were amazing against Spain and if they can replicate that performance then they’ll finish on top of their group.
Predicted score: Chile 3-2
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.85 (90%)
Next Best: Both teams to score at $1.63
Goal scorer option: Either of Arjen Robben ($2.38) or Sanchez ($3.15) to score anytime looks good.
Cameroon ($30) versus Brazil ($1.14), Draw ($10.5)
This will be a tough way for Cameroon to finish off their World Cup campaign. With morale low and key players missing in Song and Eto’o, this could be just the game Brazil need to get their mojo back. They’ve been pretty disappointing in their first 2 games and whilst they’ll likely finish on top, they’ll face a tough test in the second round against Chile or the Netherlands who at this stage both look like better teams. Brazil were perhaps a little unlucky against Mexico not to score but all credit to the way they defended in particular Goalkeeper Ochoa. Brazil aren’t in the best of form but in the end this could put them back on track so that they can get back to their best from last year’s Confederations Cup. Look for a statement here from the Brazilians with Neymar to be the star of the show as he carries this team through to the last 16.
Predicted score: Brazil 3-0
Best Bet: Brazil Half Time/Full Time double at $1.52 (85%)
Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $1.49
Goal scorer option: Neymar to score at $1.72 anytime.
Croatia ($2.6) versus Mexico ($2.96), Draw ($3.5)
Another crunch match here with Croatia taking on Mexico. Mexico has been outstanding thus far with a 1-0 (should have been 3-0) win over Cameroon and then a fine performance against Brazil for a nil all draw. They now face a Croatian side building in belief after they demolished Cameroon 4-0 in their last match which sets this contest up nicely. The hard part for Croatia here will be to break down a tough Mexican defence that has yet to concede a goal at this World Cup along with Nigeria. Croatia certainly have the personnel to break it down with Modric the key in midfield but I feel they may get frustrated by Mexico in the end who have the upper hand 1 point ahead so would be happy to sit back and play for the draw. That though can be a dangerous tactic as it could invite too much pressure on their defence and allow Croatia to get ahead and for them to then close down the game. It’s a bit of a conundrum that I’m sure both managers will be thinking of. From my perspective this is a really tough game to call results wise so I’m not overly confident but I’m quite comfortable that this one could end in a draw as a 1-1. I’d expect to see Croatia score here given they only have one option in that they need to attack.
Predicted score: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.81 (70%)
Next Best: Both teams to score – Yes at $1.83
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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