We’re almost at the final stages of sorting the last 16 but we still have a few games to go. There’s no real glamour matches in this round of fixtures but we do get to have one last look at Title hopefuls in Argentina and France whilst the young and exciting Swiss side gets another chance to impress.
**Odds from betfair as at 24th June
Nigeria ($8.8) versus Argentina ($1.58), Draw ($3.9)
An interesting game to kick us off with Nigeria taking on Argentina. Argentina sit top of group F above Nigeria by 2 points so it’s a less important fixture for Argentina in the sense they can afford to lose. Although Nigeria look largely safe, a heavy loss here and a win for Iran over Bosnia could see them knocked down to 3rd in the group on goal difference and out of the World Cup. Nigeria haven’t exactly been red hot in this world cup with just the 1 goal scored from their two games resulting in a win and a draw, but they have managed to been defensively strong without conceding so far. Argentina likewise have been pretty solid at the back with just the one goal conceded. That though could be as a result of weaker opposition attacks more than anything with Argentina controlling their games for the most part, in particular against Iran where they had 70% of possession. Argentina were frustrated by the defence of Iran in their last match and it took a cracking goal from Messi to break the deadlock late in the game. Both sides seem to be easing their way into this World Cup but even given Argentina’s attacking prowess, I’m not overly confident of a multitude of goals here. Nigeria will be wary of Argentina’s attack in a way that they’ll be eager to not concede early which could lead to Argentina growing in confidence and taking control of the game as they seek to build momentum into the last 16. As a result we could see a pretty tight first half with a goal or two to come in the second half. I suspect Messi may find the net again for a 3rd game in succession as he too builds in confidence.
Predicted score: Argentina 2-0
Best Bet: Argentina to win at $1.58 (85%)
Next Best: Second half highest scoring at $2.08
Bosnia-Herzegovina ($2.22) versus Iran ($3.6), Draw ($3.6)
Bosnia-Herzegovina will be bitterly disappointed with their World Cup thus far and will count themselves unlucky against Nigeria in their last game where they certainly had chances (7 shots on target from 18 in total). Iran will be rueing an opportunity to snatch points off Argentina in their last match but its clear there was going to be no stopping that Messi goal. Having frustrated Nigeria to a goalless draw and almost doing the same to Argentina, it’ll be interesting to see if they employ the same tactics here against a Bosnia side that is going home. They have a chance of getting through to the next stage so whilst I’d expect them to be defensively focused throughout I’d also expect to see them push to add to their lowly 4 shots on target total in 2 games. It won’t be easy though as Bosnia will be looking to finish off a disappointing campaign with a win much in the same way that Spain did against Australia. As a result I think we can expect Bosnia to play with far more freedom as they have nothing to lose and given their lack of luck in front of goal I’m sure we’ll see them notch up one here.
Predicted score: Bosnia 1-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.83 (75%)
Next Best: Draw no bet Bosnia at $1.59
Honduras ($9.2) versus Switzerland ($1.47), Draw ($4.6)
Honduras have had a pretty up and down World Cup so far. After a poor start against France, they managed to turn it around early against Ecuador only to let it slip away thanks to an Enner Valencia brace. They certainly played with much more enthusiasm and looked a better side than they did against France. This is a massive game for the Swiss though as they look for a big win to secure a spot in the last 16. They’ll need some help from France though as Ecuador sit above them on goal difference with a 2 goal lead so if Ecuador manage to beat France, the Swiss will need to really have a big win over Honduras here to ensure their spot in the last 16 and it’ll likely need to be by 4 goals or more. They’ll be hoping to fix what happened in their last game against France as they were pretty well belted 5-0 down with 21 minutes left. To their credit though they kept pushing and managed to push 2 goals past France in the end. That’ll give them some momentum heading into this one. They’ll need to get into the game early though as their 4 goals have all come in the second half. There’s a lot to like about the Swiss and I think they’ll be far more alert after that wakeup call against France to get a much needed win here and most likely enough to push them through to the last 16. They’ll need to be wary though as Honduras will be keen on the attack in this one with nothing to lose.
Predicted score: Switzerland 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.77 (80%)
Next Best: Second half highest scoring at $1.9
Ecuador ($4.8) versus France ($1.86), Draw ($3.8)
This is a crucial game for Ecuador as they need to win to give themselves the best chance of getting through to the last 16 whilst a favourable result in the Switzerland and Honduras game would be handy as well. It’ll be pretty tough though as France look to build on their 5-2 demolition of Switzerland in their last match to go with their 3-0 win over Honduras in their opening game. They may have comfort in knowing that they have secured their place in the last 16 (assuming they don’t get belted with Ecuador and the Swiss overtaking their superior goal difference) but given their performances in previous World Cups lately I’d expect France to come out firing here again. They have less to lose than Ecuador but they have a lot to prove and would gain a lot from a big win here. Ecuador will provide a test though and they’ll need to be extra watchful over Enner Valencia who’s scored 3 goals so far in 2 games and is really the man of the moment for Ecuador. Look also for France to bring in a few changes with Cabaye suspended and injury concerns over Sakho at the back. It might seem a risk to make extra changes in addition to this but in reality the players that do come in will be hungry to prove their worth for a chance at a starting spot in the next round if they do get their chance here. Players such as Remy and Griezmann could well get a run here to prove their worth.
Predicted score: France 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.9 (85%)
Next Best: Both teams to score at $1.74
Anytime Scorer bet: If Benzema starts, he’s a good bet to score anytime at $2.05 having scored 3 already.
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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