Fernando Can Lead Spain to FIFA 2018 Success

Spain vs Morocco

One of the FIFA 2018 favourites takes centre stage at Kaliningrad on Monday when Spain take on Morocco in their last game of Group B.

It’s a game Spain are expected to win, and that would take them safely through. And that would also help them put the pre-tournament managerial drama behind them!

Opponents Morocco can count themselves to be very unlucky to be taking an early trip home, bottom of the group and with no hope after two 1-0 defeats.

Talking Points

The us football pundits were full of support for Spain before the tournament but were understandably nervous once Coach Julen Lopetegui was unceremoniously sent on his way two days before the opening ceremony. Never before have we seen such a disconnect between a nation’s FA and one of its teams. The Spanish FA and Real Madrid officials are unlikely to be exchanging Christmas cards this year!

In stepped Fernando Hierro, manager of La Liga second-tier club Oviedo in 2017, which you have to say isn’t the most impressive managerial record in the tournament. But with 89 caps and 29 goals for Spain as a player, Hierro has the respect of players and fans alike. Shortly after his retirement, he was awarded 43rd place in the Times’ list of ‘hardest players of all time’. So if there are any players who don’t respect the new boss, they had better be faster than him!

There have been a few surprise FIFA 2018 results already, but Spain have managed to stay out of trouble amidst the managerial turmoil.

David De Gea trains well to avoid the early mistake and lead Spain to victory against Morocco in FIFA 2018

Spain keeper David De Gea in action during the nation’s FIFA 2018 match against Iran

They looked the better side in the opening 3-3 draw with Portugal, but there was little anyone could do to stop Ronaldo; apart from goalkeeper David De Gea of course, who scooped a weak long-range shot into the corner of his own net when everyone expected him to just pick the ball up. Hierro has rightly backed his keeper, saying everyone makes mistakes and few keepers in the world can make the saves De Gea does.

Herve Renard’s Morocco has lived with both their opponents so far, for virtually the entirety of each game. Cristiano Ronaldo scored in the only goal in the fourth minute in their Moscow meeting last Wednesday; there was heartbreak in St Petersburg for poor Aziz Bouhaddouz put one through his own net in the 95th minute to give Iran a win they hardly deserved.

Morocco had bossed the game for long periods, and in Hakim Ziyech, they have a player who can turn a game in an instance. The Ajax midfielder has quick feet and a keen football brain and was unlucky not to score when his late drive was brilliantly saved against Iran. Had that gone in, I suspect Morocco would have held on to win and they would now be in a good position to qualify.

Ziyech is a man who can make chances for the forwards, leading the Eredivisie with 15 assists last season.

History

Spain are World Cup royalty, making their 15th appearance in the Finals and dominating football very recently as champions in 2010. They still have the talent to take on the world again.

It’s the Lions of the Atlas’ fifth appearance, their best effort being a last-16 place in 2006.

Morocco had four wins in five games in the run-up to the World Cup, and so the back-to-back defeats here must be hard to swallow for their fans.

Spain came into the tournament in a rich vein of form, the highlight being a 6-1 spanking of Argentina. Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa has already scored three goals in the first two games in Russia, and he’ll have an eye on the Golden Boot.

What are the Odds?

Morocco eye to end their FIFA 2018 journey by beating the formidable Spain in Group Stage

Morocco’s Younes Belhanda looks devastated after teammate Aziz Bouhaddouz hit an own goal for Iran in FIFA 2018

Spain are hot favourite to win this game at odds of 1.34; the draw is at 4.90 and it’s 9.00 for an unlikely Morocco win.

FIFA 2018 betting players will expect a comfortable win for Hierro’s men, with the handicap betting offer suggesting a two-goal margin as the most likely outcome. With a -1.50 goal handicap, Spain are available at 2.11, with Morocco at 1.84 with that +1.50 goal advantage.

We think there will be goals in this one, Spain have attacking talent running through the team, while Morocco have nothing to lose and will want to give their fans a happy trip home. Over 2.50 goals seem likely at odds of 1.89, and you can get 2.01 on under 2.50.

If you believe Morocco can finally get some reward that their play has warranted then you can back a double chance of Morocco and Draw at odds of 3.05.

It’s the least Renard’s team deserves, but I fear they will go home empty-handed.

As for Spain, another attacking performance will have their fans really believing Fernando is the man.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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Saudi Arabia vs Egypt: A Fight for a Consoling Victory

Saudi Arabia vs Egypt

This is probably not the way the two countries facing each other in the final match of the 2018 World Cup group stages. Both had a chance to make it to the knockout stages in what was deemed the “Group of Life” by some pundits, including our knowledgeable pool of football experts here at us.

However, it seems that Saudi Arabia vs Egypt was meant to become a farewell match for the two countries. It does not matter if you think both of these nations were robbed in their previous fixtures in the competition because that’s just the way football goes.

The Green Falcons will be hoping to score their first goal in this year’s edition of the World Cup as well as send their fans home with a smile. The Pharaohs, meanwhile, will be hoping that their fans will also be smiling bittersweet grins as they prepare to leave Russia.

Volgograd will be a witness to an outstanding battle between two World Cup teams that played fantastic football for the entire world!

Talking Points

Saudi Arabia started Russia 2018 on the wrong foot as they fell terribly to an overperforming Russia squad in front of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The simple fact that they weren’t able to score even once against the hosts probably brought the progressive and controversial Crown Prince to tears.

Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men recovered and played much better football against Uruguay, but Luis Suarez’s poach on the 23rd minute of the game meant that they were booted out of the World Cup. Many of the fans who watched at Rostov will testify to the quality of football exhibited by these Green Falcons.

Egypt also suffered the same fate as their Middle Eastern opponents. They also played top-notch football against the South American giants that featured Suarez and Edinson Cavani. However, they robbed of a point by a late header from Jose Gimenez that sent an entire nation to ecstasy and left another in despair.

Things didn’t get any better for the Pharaohs when they played the red-hot hosts for the second game. The Russians didn’t lose their scoring boots and overwhelmed them. While talisman Mohamed Salah finally made his World Cup debut, his efforts mattered little as the Russians also doomed them to an early exit out of Russia.

While these two nations have fallen out of the World Cup race, it wasn’t like they played terrible football. In fact, I have a new-found respect for these minnows in the global stage, and this is especially true for Saudi Arabia.

Many a pundit (yours truly included) only expected the Saudis to make an appearance in the World Cup and quietly bow out into the night. However, the Green Falcons showcased a relentless style of football that made Uruguay, the supposed favourites to come out on top, struggle for goals. They deserve every bit of praise that is coming their way.

Saudi Arabia vs Egypt: Mohamed Salah hopes to end his World Cup 2018 on a good note by winning over KSA

Egypt’s Mohamed Salah joggles the ball before the nation’s World Cup 2018 match against Uruguay

However, their upcoming task of guarding Salah does not get any easier. After brushing off rumours of him leaving the Egypt squad early, everyone and their mothers can be sure that he will be raring to score goal after goal for the Pharaohs.

If they manage to contain Salah and limit Egypt to taking long shots from way out, there is a chance for Saudi Arabia to run away with the last three points in Group A.

History

Saudi Arabia and Egypt have met six times on the international football scene, with Egypt winning four of those engagements. The biggest win the Pharaohs got from their neighbours was their first: a 13-0 win by Egypt during the 1961 Pan-Arab Games. Saudi’s only win against Egypt was a 5-1 triumph during the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup.

In terms of recent form, Saudi Arabia are definitely trying currently on a five-game losing streak. They have only scored two goals in that stretch while their opponents dumped 13 goals through their defence. Pizzi needs to prioritise defence among his lads if he wants Saudi to win.

Egypt also had a poor run of form in their last five games. They drew against Kuwait and Egypt before losing 3-0 to Belgium in their last game. While it must be noted that Salah was only able to play during their latest game, the inability of Hector Cuper’s men to find goals is nothing short of unacceptable.

What are the odds?

Saudi Arabia vs Egypt: KSA players aim to leave Russia with a win by beating Egypt in their World Cup finale game

Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Alburayk looks frustrated after missing a free kick during their World Cup 2018 game against Uruguay

There are interesting Saudi Arabia vs Egypt odds available for the ever-ready punter.

There is a high possibility that the two countries will split the honours, and a Draw is at 3.25. Egypt have 1.88 while Saudi Arabia are at 4.50.

The Asian Handicap market also tilts in Egypt’s favour. The Pharaohs have 2.19 for a -0.75 handicap, while the Green Falcons have 2.06 for a +0.50 goal boost.

I don’t we will see much goals here, making Under 2.25 goals at 2.08 a very attractive option. However, there is always the possibility of a Salah hat-trick, so Over 2.75 goals is at 2.47.

For more Saudi Arabia vs Egypt updates, us predictions and other World Cup news, don’t forget to check us Blog.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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SBOBET World Cup Betting Tips Day 12 & 13

The World Cup is the best time to bet, and us Blog has you covered for the best odds and predictions for this summer spectacle in Russia.

Our football experts make an in-depth analysis of every game and come up with the best betting advice in consideration of the latest betting odds.

Read on for our latest World Cup predictions and betting tips.

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Saudi Arabia vs Egypt Egypt -0.75 Asian Handicap @ 2.19
June 25, 22:00 (GMT+8)

This battle between two nations making their exit in the World Cup should make for entertaining football.

Saudi Arabia have impressed me and many other football fans and pundits with their gritty game that forced Luis Suarez and Uruguay to settle for a less-than-spectacular goal. I think their performance in the latest World Cup is something to be proud of, especially if we consider their minnow status in world football.

However, they are still without a true and established star. And that is exactly what Egypt have in Mohamed Salah. I expect the Liverpool maestro to take over his final World Cup 2018 game and bang a couple of goals in for Egypt.

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Denmark vs France Over 2.00 Goals @ 2.13
June 26, 22:00 (GMT+8)

I strongly feel for France to come out on top of Group C when the dust settles. They have a strong, loaded team, and Didier Deschamps can customise his roster in order to counter whatever strong points Denmark have. I expect goals to come from Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud, while Paul Pogba may flirt with the crossbar every now and then.

However, I don’t think Christian Eriksen will allow France to simply get on top without him having a say on it. The Tottenham Hotspur star scored in Denmark’s draw against Australia and will definitely orchestrate a goal for the Danish Dynamite.

I don’t think this will end in a draw, and one of either team will benefit from a 2-1 victory.

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Iceland vs Croatia Croatia -0.50 Asian Handicap @ 2.36
June 27, 02:00 (GMT+8)

The odds may say that Croatia will be evenly matched against giant-killers Iceland, however I would beg to disagree.

Luka Modric, Ian Rakitic and the rest of the prolific Croats endured attack after attack from Lionel Messi and company while powering in three goals past a poor excuse of a keeper in Willy Caballero. They should be in red-hot form after silencing the Albiceleste and should have no problems coming away with the win.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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Kroos Saves Germany’s FIFA 2018 Hopes

Germany 2-1 Sweden

A moment of pure genius from Toni Kroos grabbed a late, late win for Germany in the most dramatic climax yet in FIFA 2018.

For 95 minutes, Sweden thought they’d done enough to see off the Germans, after Ola Toivonen had given them a deserved lead, pegged back by Marco Reus. But Kroos’ swinging free-kick flew into the far corner of the net in the last meaningful play of the game.

At the beginning of this match, there were still four teams left in the Group F chase to qualify for the last 16, but after Mexico beat South Korea to reach six points, they were inches from qualification while the Koreans hurtled towards the exit. It’s still wide open now, and that is big FIFA 2018 news for Germany fans.

All of the team here at us backed Germany to reach the quarter-finals at least, as did almost all FIFA 2018 betting tips. But the defeat to Mexico in Joachim Low’s opening fixture tested our resolve. And for most of this game, it looked like Germany were on the way out.

Highlights of the game

Sweden’s narrow win over South Korea gave Jannw Andersson’s side real belief that they could qualify from this tough Group F, and the way they played in the first half added more strength to their argument.

They almost went ahead on 13 minutes when Marcus Berg burst into the box. He got his shot away which was easily saved by FC Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer but looked to have been tripped by Jerome Boateng as he pulled the trigger. The Swedes protested furiously, but no VAR assistance was offered.

Then, just after the half-hour, Sweden went deservedly ahead, sparking wild celebrations among their yellow-clad fans in Sochi. Viktor Claesson clipped over a super ball for Ola Toivonen to latch onto, and the Toulouse striker chipped the ball brilliantly over the advancing Neuer.

Ola Toivonen's goal puts Sweden ahead at the break in World Cup 2018

Ola Toivonen’s goal has Germany facing World Cup elimination

Andersson’s team looked the better side, but keeper Robin Olsen was called on to make a brave double save to keep their noses in front. First, he kept out Ilkay Gundogan’s deflected shot before saving from Thomas Muller’s follow-up effort at the near post.

Sweden almost doubled the lead right on the stroke of half-time when Seb Larsson swung over a brilliant cross, met by Marcus Berg who headed towards the corner only for Manuel Neuer to palm the ball wide.

Low must have put a rocket up his lacklustre side at half-time because they exploded into life as soon as the second half started, levelling matters on 48 minutes when Timo Werner made it to the by-line and crossed for Marco Reus to knee the ball into the net.

That changed the mood in Sochi as the Germany fans suddenly found their voices and their team remembered they were World champions. But much as they pressed and probed, Sweden held firm and began to look more comfortable as the half went on, probably happy with a point.

Germany came mighty close, though, on 72 minutes when Werner crossed into the danger area, but the ball was bundled away just as Mario Gomez was about to pounce.

Sweden did come out of their half with 15 minutes left on the clock they won a corner. And as the ball pinged out to Emil Forsberg, the Leipzig midfielder fired a volley in from 25 yards that was comfortably saved by Neuer.

Werner fired over when he might have scored; then Germany went down to ten men when Boateng saw red after he fouled Berg, and that handed the momentum back to Sweden. And they almost snatched a winner when Neuer slipped as a cross flew in but just managed to get a hand to the ball to deny John Guidetti.

As Germany became more desperate, they threw players forward and came so close when Toni Kroos fired in a superb cross for Gomez who saw his point-blank header tipped over by Olsen. And Swedish hearts were in their mouths when Julian Brandt fired a stinging shot in from 20 years which crashed against the post.

But their hearts were broken on 95 minutes when Kroos fired in his beauty at the death.

Toni Kroos’ late goal saves Germany’s World Cup 2018 campaign

Sweden players reacts after Germany’s Toni Kroos scores his side’s second goal in Sochi

Key statistics

Just take a look at the Group F Table to see what that all means. Germany are back in with a great chance of qualifying. With a population eight times that of Sweden’s 10 million, you’d expect the World Champions to win, I guess.

How about a quirky statistic? The average height of the Sweden and Germany squad players is identical at 6ft 1 ¼ inches. Big lads.

And here’s another thing. VAR wasn’t called upon tonight when Berg was tripped in the box, but it’s certainly made a difference here in Russia. There have been 14 penalties awarded already at this World Cup and that’s more than the whole of World Cup 2014 together.

What’s next?

It’s all back on again for the Group F teams next Wednesday when Germany face South Korea in Kazan and Sweden meet Mexico in Yekaterinburg.

Sweden need do better against Mexico than Germany do against Korea. It’s as simple as that. But who’d bet against Germany after that?

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Una Gran Celebracion: Mexico Make the World Cup 2018 Knockout Stage!

Korea Republic 1-2 Mexico

Another team makes it through to the knockout stages of the World Cup, and it is North America’s turn to celebrate this time around.

Mexico have secured two victories and made it out of an incredibly tough group stage. El Tri are now headed to the knockout stages of the World Cup 2018 and will now be free to pursue the top spot of a group that features the defending World Cup champions!

Many of the pundits and experts at us believed that the Mexicans, who were still on a high after seeing off Germany in an incredible 1-0 result, would simply overwhelm the Taegeuk Warriors with their pace and technical brilliance. The predicted script was followed to a T as the Koreans found it difficult to stop Mexico’s attack and defence.

There should be no doubts about Juan Carlos Osorio’s team at this point on: Mexico are here in Russia, and Mexico will stay in Russia to fight for the coveted trophy.

Highlights of the game

Chicharito and Vela score to give El Tri 6 points through 2 games at FIFA 2018

Chicharito is the eighth player at the World Cup 2018 to reach 50 international goals

Like the equally fantastic Russia-Saudi Arabia match, Shin Tae-young’s team were duly honoured to be supported by South Korean president Moon Jae-in. The 1-0 defeat they endured against Sweden means that they still had a chance to salvage the situation and make the Group F an open playing field.

Korea Republic kicked the game off but soon saw the Mexicans slowly taking control of the game. The Mexicans had a lot of time with the ball in the first half, and Korea had to play physical, defensive football in order to stop any positive developments from happening in favour of Mexico.

Mexico had a chance to take the lead in the twelfth minute. A free-kick from the right to the box saw the ball go straight to Javier Hernandez’s head. Chicharito headed a powerful ball to the far post, but the shot went wide.

Korea Republic had their chances on the attack, as more direct balls to the back line saw Son Heung-min go for a blitzing attack against the Mexican defence in the 22nd minute. However, the lack of support meant that Son had to make the shot attempts right then and there, and his efforts went nowhere.

The first El Tri goal would be coming soon after Son’s sole effort. Jang Hyun-soo’s hand blocked the ball within the penalty box, forcing Mazic to point to the spot. Carlos Vela, in honour of his deceased grandfather, took and converted the penalty.

Mexico had almost doubled the lead moments after Vela’s strike as he and Hirving Lozano made superb passes, but Cho Hyun-woo brilliantly saved Miguel Layun’s strike.

Son had another chance to equalise before half-time as the South Koreans made another counter-attack, but Guillermo Ochoa made a brilliant save and ended the half 1-0.

The second half saw more of the same material from the first half as Vela and Chicharito had their way with the football multiple times, scaring Cho to make saves.

The Taegeuk Warriors soon found themselves in a deep ditch in the 66th minute when El Tri scored again. Hirving Lozano, the hero in Mexico’s outstanding win against Germany, ran the ball up the middle from their own half to South Korea. He makes a nice through pass to Chicharito. The West Ham United striker baited the defender to diving and made a near-post shot past Cho to double the lead.

The game was effectively over from that point as Shin Tae-yong’s men simply didn’t produce enough quality to help them put on a fighting chance against El Tri. They struggled to keep hold of the possession and had to frequently foul in order to stop Mexico’s momentum from growing even further.

Tottenham’s Son Heung-min finally scored a cracker of a goal in the 92nd minute to somewhat give the Koreans a faint, dying hope. He fired a bullet from outside the box and into the far post. There was nothing Ochoa could do about the goal but just shrug it off.

Besides, it was the last bit of effort from the Koreans as Mazic blew the final whistle to draw a curtain to this entertaining game.

Key statistics

This World Cup has been one full of very rough challenges, and Vela’s penalty adds to the growing statistic. His spot kick was the fourteenth penalty awarded in this World Cup.

Korea Republic, ranked 42 spots below Mexico in the FIFA rankings, struggled to keep up with Mexico. They incurred 24 fouls in 90 minutes of action, and four red shirts were listed in Mazic’s book by the end of it all.

This game could also be one of the best World Cup 2018 highlights to aspiring strikers as a classic example on how to beat offside traps. Neither team was caught offside by the linesmen throughout the game.

This also game also extends Mexico’s lead over Korea in their head-to-head matches. Their record now stands at seven wins, four losses and one draw.

What’s next?

Son Heung Min not ready for World Cup 2018 spotlight

Son Heung Min looks dejected after seeing his side crash out of the World Cup

El Tri can now focus on topping their group when they face Sweden. If they play the same way they did in their win that defied all logic and World Cup 2018 odds, they should have no problem running away with another win.

Meanwhile, Korea Republic will end their World Cup with a tough match against Germany. Son Heung-min will be looking to end his Russian summer with at least a victory, so expect the Taegeuk Warriors to throw everything they can to the unnerved Germans.

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Brilliant Belgium Light Up World Cup 2018

Belgium 5-2 Tunisia

I suppose the beauty of events such as World Cup 2018 is its propensity to throw up fixtures like this one.

Wherever they are in the globe, us’s team of writers will tell you a match like this should be a mismatch.

Any World Cup 2018 betting odds will also tell you as much, which is to be expected given they have some of the best individuals in the world.

But does boss Roberto Martinez fit the system to suit the players or does he shunt exciting pegs into round holes? This, finally, suggests the former.

Highlights of the game

This match suggested an exercise in attack versus defence.

Tunisia’s record in the tournament – this is their first appearance a World Cup since 2006 – is dreadful, and in many ways, they seemed ideal opponents for Belgium in the Otkritie Arena.

And so it proved from virtually the first whistle as captain Eden Hazard won and converted a penalty to give the Red Devils a sixth-minute lead.

Quickly it was two as the in-form Romelu Lukaku slammed a left-footed shot into the bottom right-hand corner after being played through by Dries Mertens.

It seemed chants of ‘easy’ may be considered, yet Nabil Maaloul’s men proved against England they can be obdurate opponents.

Can Tunisia still secure a spot in World Cup 2018?

Tunisia’s efforts came up short against Belgium

Within two minutes (109 seconds to be precise), Tunisia hit back as Wahbi Khazri curled the ball into the danger zone and Dylan Bronn headed home.

Although Belgium immediately came close to restoring their two-goal lead through Yannick Carrasco, Martinez’s side then came up against a form of resistance similar to that provided by Panama in their opening match.

The North African side put men behind the ball while attempting to play on the counter-attack.

Despite seeing the luckless Bronn carried off after he turned his knee and then losing another player, Syam Ben Youssef, to injury, Tunisia gave it their all and looked to be heading to the break only one goal adrift.

Yet as Belgium probed for another breakthrough, Lukaku added a crucial third in the final seconds of half-time.

A superb finish after fine work from Thomas Meunier, it took his tally to 40 goals in 71 games for Belgium, including 17 in his last 11 internationals.

It also completely deflated Tunisia who had shown real dynamism after the first quarter of an hour. Yet as the players departed at the break, you knew it was game over and Belgium won with ease.

Six minutes after the restart came Hazard’s second with an excellent run and finish from an equally fine Kevin de Bruyne pass.

It seemed more goals would flow but Martinez took Lukaku – who had received treatment during the first half – and Hazard off to rest and take no risks ahead of their final group match.

There still should have been more.

Substitute Michy Batshuayi rounded Ben Mustapha but failed to connect cleanly with his effort which was cleared and then, after the goalkeeper parried out a Carrasco effort, somehow fired his shot against the underside of the bar when it seemed easier to score.

In truth, Batshuayi should have had a six-minute hat-trick and was denied by Mustapha again after De Bruyne pulled the ball back.

But it didn’t matter.

He finally got his name on the scoresheet at the fourth attempt to seal a 5-1 success.

How ironic that it was his most difficult chance of all after sub Youri Tielemans crossed the ball across.

In the closing seconds, Tunisia got a second their spirited merited – Khazri the marksman – but Belgium had found their rhythm and the ‘Golden Generation’, for which so much is expected, are beginning to show they are every bit worthy of that tag.

Key statistics

This was the fourth meeting between Belgium and Tunisia with the record now at Belgium two wins, Tunisia one victory and one draw.

This was their second meeting at a World Cup after a 1-1 draw at the 2002 group stage.

Belgium are unbeaten in their last 11 World Cup group games and have won the previous six.

Tunisia have failed to win their last 13 World Cup games since winning their first-ever match against Mexico in 1978. That, incidentally, was the first match won by an African side at the World Cup.

What’s next?

The clash between Belgium and England could be one of the World Cup 2018 highlights.

It is effectively the clash of the Group G big hitters. That meeting in Kaliningrad next week (June 28) will likely determine who tops the standings.

Tunisia meet Panama at the same time in the Mordovia Arena in Saransk.

 

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Dire Straits Make This World Cup 2018 Game Great

Poland vs Colombia

Who would have thought that these two countries would be butting heads without any points to their name in the second game of the World Cup 2018 group stage?

Poland and Colombia were heavy favourites to make it out of Group H according to a thorough analysis by the knowledgeable experts at us. Both nations have talented stars leading them and saw relative success during their last international tournaments.

However, it seems that the crow’s feathers have turned white as the two footballing powerhouses find themselves behind Japan and Senegal. They must now knock the other down if they want to have a fighting chance at making the knockout stages.

Fans of both nations will come in droves to the Kazan Arena to will an all-important victory that will help them fight for their survival until the final day. Meanwhile, a loss means an early exit from the biggest ball in world football.

Will Los Cafeteros redeem the costly red card they made with a victory? Or will the Bialo-czerwoni be able to put together a better defensive performance and let their main man do his thing against the opposition?

Talking Points

The prior World Cup 2018 results have to be discussed prior to this match. Both nations played disappointing football as the nations pegged as underdogs got the better of them. Fans, neutrals and pundits, expect a much better performance from the two stars for completely different reasons.

Colombia got the second-earliest red card in World Cup history after midfielder Carlos Sanchez blocked Shinji Kagawa’s attempt in the opening minutes with an outstretched arm. Referee Damir Skomina instantly slapped him with a red card and awarded Japan with a penalty, setting up an eventual 2-1 triumph for the Samurai Blue.

Meanwhile, Poland were seemingly caught off-guard with the blitzing pace and defence of Senegal as they also fell against the Africans, 2-1. Sadio Mane and the rest of the Lions of Teranga played fantastic football to the point that Senegal coach Aliou Cisse’s celebrations have become an internet sensation.

This situation now puts the two nations into a tricky situation coming into this match. Both Colombia and Poland will be putting their best foot forward in order to trounce their opponents and keep their hopes of qualifying to the knockout stages alive. In order for them to achieve this, they need their respective stars to do the heavy lifting and get them out of the ditch they find themselves in.

James Rodriguez aim to give Colombia their first World Cup 2018 win when they face Poland

James Rodriguez dribbles the ball during Colombia’s international friendly match against France

Bayern Munich fans will be intrigued to see how James Rodriguez and Robert Lewandowski will play in this game. They know how the other operates through their year-long collaboration for the Bavarians and have passed on every minute detail about each other’s playing styles to their coaches. We can be sure that both Jose Pekerman and Adam Nawalka have come up with ways in order to try and contain the other star.

If we put that into consideration, there should be no doubt that the other players in their respective national teams would have to pull their weight and make the victory happen.

If we compare the roster of the two nations, Colombia would have the more dominant team on paper. Radamel Falcao and Carlos Bacca are very effective attackers that Pekerman could use in order to succeed. Arsenal’s David Ospina and Milan’s Cristian Zapata are also ready to lead the Colombian defence.

Meanwhile, Poland have a huge question mark looming over their heads. There is a huge question mark as to whether this Poland team can play quality football without overly relying on Lewandowski. Kamil Grosicki, Lukasz Piszczek and Wojciech Szczesny must lead the team and lessen the burden resting on Robert’s shoulders.

History

Colombia and Poland have met five times in their history, with the four of them being international friendlies. Colombia currently hold the lead in their head-to-head count, winning their last three encounters.

If we discount their shocking first-round defeats, both nations had somewhat good forms in the lead-up to the tournament. Poland won against Korea Republic and drew with Chile, while the Cafeteros pulled off a thrilling victory against France and drew against Egypt and Australia.

If Colombia manage to discipline themselves and not concede another penalty, they have a good chance of winning this match. Meanwhile, Poland need to get their stuff together and stop the equally speedy Colombians from having their way with the back line.

What are the odds?

Robert Lewandowski is expected to lead the Polish squad to their first World Cup 2018 win when they face Colombia

Robert Lewandowski fires a shot against the tough Senegalese defence during their World Cup clash

us has interesting odds if you want to bet on this match.

Given the shocking form these two countries are in, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that this could end with the two countries splitting the honours. The 1X2 market offers 3.20 for a tie game.

However, there’s a good chance that Poland will still continue struggling to defend against Colombia’s wing attacks. Should that happen, there is a good chance of the South Americans running away with the three points. Putting money on Colombia -0.50 @ 2.29 is not a bad idea.

I think this will be the game where the two Bayern Munich stars rediscover their form and start smacking in goals. There is a huge possibility for this game to be a high-scoring affair, so a punt on Over 2.50 is at 2.26.

If you want to see more World Cup 2018 betting odds on this game, check the us website today.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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FIFA 2018 and the Unlikely Lads

England vs Panama

It’s England vs Panama, and the us odds are most emphatic.

The Three Lions are expected to win by many in the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium.

Clashes like this should be one-way and, with the utmost respect for Panama, usually only travel in one direction.

Deep down, even some of their followers will admit it would be an achievement to avoid heavy defeats and thrashings at the FIFA 2018 – something they just about managed in their opening game (a 3-0 reverse to Belgium).

Talking Points

It’s possible we’ve already had a glimpse of the side Gareth Southgate expects to field in this one.

The sight of assistant manager Steve Holland’s notepad has caused a minor stir in recent days and may have hit a nerve given Southgate’s subsequent comments about the media.

The England boss certainly had a point, mind, in an era in which the British media have been more of a hindrance than a help to England national teams in recent campaigns.

That aside, and the likely absence of Dele Alli due to a thigh injury sustained against Tunisia, the other main focus will be on what England can expect against the underdogs.

For an hour against Belgium, until they were tired, Panama proved they are not only well-organised but can frustrate superior nations and play a physical game.

Indeed, that physicality prompted Belgium boss Roberto Martinez earlier this week to suggest referees needed to clamp down on what he called ‘cheap and unnecessary tackles’.

Personally, I watched the game and didn’t see dirty fouls, even if the five yellow cards they totted up in an hour were the most by a country since the World Cup Final of 2010 when Holland were criticised for the way they went about trying to stop eventual world champions Spain.

Panama will look to upset England in their FIFA 2018 clash

Panama boss Hernan Gomez celebrates with Roman Torres on their World Cup qualifying clash against Costa Rica

However, for all the qualifying achievements of manager Hernan Dario Gomez – this is his fifth World Cup with a third different nation after Colombia (1998) and Ecuador (2002) – and players led by likable captain Roman Torres; for all the experience in their ranks – the 24 players picked for pre-tournament spring friendlies had an average 59 caps each – it is inexperience at this level of the game.

Panama are World Cup debutants and, respectfully, have a lack of top-class quality, pace and mobility. We’re not even mentioning the ageing defence and their limited attacking threat. Their limitations are understandable and for many, the Central American nation, whose population only stands at around four million people, is just delighted to be at Russia 2018.

Gomez eloquently summed up their presence when he said: “When you get there you can grow but you can shrink too. A World Cup is the greatest party. You see the most beautiful woman and you can dance with her. Your legs tremble.”

On paper, if not the FIFA rankings, Panama are probably the weakest team in the World Cup. An early England goal could open the floodgates and make them weak at the knees.

While England’s attacking pace alone should see them off, Southgate’s side will have to be wary of the searing heat, given the match kicks-off at 3 pm Russian time.

A second Group G win would set up a clash with Belgium to potentially determine who wins the group and, on paper at least, get a more straightforward last 16 tie.

England should win, and Panama should lose by a few. Anything else and there will be more than trembles in both countries! Even Gomez would acknowledge that.

History

History will be created. This is the first-ever meeting between the two nations ranked 12th and 55th in the world.

What are the odds?

Given that last statistic, it should be no surprise the FIFA 2018 betting odds for this game are as one-sided as they come.

England 1X2 are priced @ 1.24 with Panama out at 15.00. even the draw is generous towards the Panamanians @ 5.20.

Asian Handicap betting is good value with England -2.00 @ 2.44, likewise over 2.75 goals @ 2.29 seems a cert, or how about what some would deem a safe bet at total goals 4-6 @ 3.55?

For a repeat of Belgium’s victory over Panama, you can get odds on the match finishing 3-0 of 6.60.

A three-goal winning margin for Gareth Southgate’s side comes in at 4.80.

Looking at the bigger picture, after his double against Tunisia, Harry Kane will be hopeful of adding more to his tally in this one.

As it stands, you can get odds of 8.00 of him being the top goalscorer overall and claiming the Golden Boot in the tournament.

For all the latest FIFA 2018 updates, you know where to go.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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Shaqiri Wins a World Cup 2018 Classic!

Serbia 1-2 Switzerland

Wow! What a game and what a finish!

Xherdan Shaqiri scored a brilliant late goal to win three crucial points for Switzerland in a fantastic Group E clash against unlucky Serbia.

This was one of the best games of World Cup 2018 with two teams going for a win with energy, skill, pace and passion. And Serbia can feel very unlucky after a brilliant first half and be denied a clear penalty in the second.

Brazil’s late, late show, beating Costa Rica with two injury-time goals, put a little more pressure on Vladimir Petkovic’s Switzerland, leaving them adrift in third place before kick-off. So this result is massive World Cup 2018 news: we have a three-way battle for the top two places with Brazil and Switzerland sitting pretty.

Heavy afternoon showers at the Kaliningrad Stadium had given way to early evening sunshine, perfect conditions for the ball to zip around the pitch, and for these two impressive teams to show what they can do. The World Cup 2018 odds don’t see either of them as potential semi-finalists, but I wouldn’t rule it out.

Highlights of the game

Serbia had the perfect start.

Swiss keeper Yann Sommer had a great game in the draw with Brazil, and he was called into action in the fifth minute. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic crossed for Aleksandar Mitrovic to head powerfully, only for Sommer to clear the danger. But not long and only seconds later, he could do nothing when Dusan Tadic did well on the right to whip the perfect cross over. This time, Mitrovic headed it home.

Can Serbia still manage to steal a spot in World Cup 2018?

Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates early goal vs Serbia

Mitrovic, who had a fantastic second half of the domestic season to fire Fulham into the Premier League and scored six in Serbia’s qualifying campaign, is showing just what a valuable player he is in Russia too. Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic has a cutting edge with a ready supply. Serbia could soon see they could profit down the right side, and Branislav Ivanovic crossed early for Mitrovic to try a spectacular overhead kick which flew over.

Switzerland tried to find their way back into the game but with little success, Shaqiri struggling to make an impact. And it really should have been two goals up minutes before the break when the excellent Tadic whipped a dangerous cross in, but Zoran Tosic fluffed his chance of a free header and Nemanja Matic didn’t have time to react at the far post with the goal at his mercy.

Serbia Captain Fantastic Alexsandar Kolarov led his team by example as they beat Costa Rica to ease their nerves coming into this crucial match, and after 45 minutes in Kaliningrad, it was so far so good.

Mitrovic, Tadic and Milinkovic-Savic were central to most of Serbia’s good forward play and they linked up early in the second half to good effect, but the Swiss were back on level terms on 52 minutes. Shaqiri had a shot charged down and it fell to Granit Xhaka some 25 yards out, and the Arsenal man sent a thunderbolt flying into the net.

And that moment of brilliance breathed life into the Swiss, and Shaqiri almost made it two with a moment of near genius. The Stoke City winger showed great feet to jink into a position on the right corner of the box and then unleashed a curling effort which crashed back off the upright.

So close.

There was VAR controversy on 66 minutes when Mitrovic was held down by two players as he prepared to head a Tadic cross. No penalty and the referee awarded Switzerland a free-kick in a bizarre interpretation of the laws.

Swiss substitute Mario Gavranovic thought he’d missed a sitter when Shaqiri put him clean through but, thankfully for him, the offside flag went up. Then Gavranovic broke through again and, although he looked offside this time the flag stayed down.    But his low shot was well saved by Vladimir Stojkovic.

And then it came. The big, big moment as that man Shaqiri broke clean through and ran forty yards with electrifying pace before sliding the ball past Stojkovic for the winner. What a breakaway and what a result!

Key statistics

This huge result means Switzerland are in great shape to qualify in Group E, and the match statistics show how well they recovered from a first-half beating. The Swiss ended up with 62 per cent possession and 20 shots to 13 in a game full of entertainment.

It was the first meeting between Serbia and Switzerland, and it certainly lived up to expectations. For so long, Serbia looked like they were moving into pole position but in the end, it was heartbreak.

The Swiss have lost only one in 24 games now…and now we know why.

What’s next?

So Group E concludes next Wednesday and there’s still all to play for, but Serbia have a tough, tough task.

They must pick themselves up to meet Brazil in Moscow. The tournament favourites haven’t looked inspiring during their first two games but were simply devastating in the final seven minutes against Costa Rica. I just wonder if the Samba Boys are clicking into gear.

Switzerland travel to the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium to play Los Ticos knowing that their destiny is in their own hands.

If those two games are half as good as this one, we’re in for a treat. Anything could happen; so watch out for the us tips!

 

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Musa Magic Takes Down the World Cup 2018’s Vikings

Nigeria 2-0 Iceland

Iceland came to Volgograd with a mission and a thunder-clapping crowd to egg them on. Like their Viking ancestors, they pillaged a struggling Argentina, removing any hopes of having an easy route to the World Cup. From the Land of Ice and Fire, they came to Volgograd Arena, looking to secure their first World Cup 2018 in what would be an inspiring underdog story.

They were slight favourites to win after pulling off such a momentous result against the world’s best. The pundits were all in agreement, and several of our us football experts also believed that these modern-day football Vikings would be taking the three points.

However, Nigeria and Ahmed Musa had other plans.

The Super Eagles, a team that struggled to get things together against Croatia in their first game, suddenly found themselves on Musa’s back and pulled off a very impressive victory against a tough Iceland team that has recently developed a reputation for having a sturdy defence and playing it coolly.

This result just opened the game for the remaining three teams of Group D. Whoever wins their final group stage match will join Croatia into the knockout stages. This game is something a certain chap named Lionel Messi will definitely look to capitalise on.

Highlights of the game

Francis Uzoho of Super Eagles  kept Iceland at bay in World Cup 2018 match

Nigeria’s Francis Uzoho is the second youngest goalkeeper in history to keep a clean sheet at the World Cup

Fans who watched the game could basically separate the game into two segments. One segment saw the Strakarnir okkar dominate and play some very impressive football. The other segment was Nigeria’s dominant play as they finally broke through the tough Icelandic defence and come away with the win.

Everton man Gylfi Sigurdsson made his presence known among the Nigerians in the third minute when he fired a very powerful free-kick to the upper-left corner. Fortunately, a brilliant save from young Deportivo La Coruña keeper Francis Uzoho stopped Iceland from getting a fantastic goal early in the contest.

The 19-year-old soon saw himself busy throughout the first half as Iceland kept on threatening to score multiple times in the half. Sigurdsson showed off his technical skills as he made dribbles and passes that constantly threatened the Nigerian defence. The Everton midfielder is doing everything he can to get the team on the scoreboard.

However, it wasn’t like Nigeria just allowed a European team to have their way with them for consecutive games. Gernot Rhor made brilliant adjustments that saw Musa, Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfried Ndidi plenty of opportunities up front.

However, it wasn’t until the second half that the fans would see a most fantastic goal.

Nigeria threw the ball in during the 49th minute of the match. A scramble for the ball eventually saw the ball on the feet of Viktor Moses. The Chelsea midfielder then brought the ball up to the right win and made a cross to Musa. The former Leicester attacker then caught the ball mid-air and volleyed it to the goal.

It was a most spectacular goal that broke the deadlock and put Nigeria in a more secure scenario, allowing many of the Nigerian supporters in the stands to break out in cheers. Iceland then knew that scoring a goal would become more difficult now.

Musa added more pressure to Heimir Hallgrimsson’s men when he scored another screamer of a goal. Iceland’s backline was way up as they looked to equalise. Kenneth Omeruo then made a beautiful outlet pass to the left, and Musa gladly picked up the ball. He easily dashed past the blue shirts, tricked Iceland hero and filmmaker Hannes Halldorsson to make a sweeping save, and coolly smashed the ball into an empty net.

Iceland had a shot at getting back into the game in the 80th minute when Tyronne Ebuehi made a careless tackle in the penalty box. “Ice Man” Gylfi took two steps for the spot kick. Uzoho made a wrong guess and went the other way of the strike.

Sigurdsson skied the ball, and thousands of Icelandic hearts were shattered.

The miss definitely took the air out of Iceland’s lungs as the Super Eagles kept on with their strong defence and end the game with a convincing 2-0 victory.

Key statistics

Iceland are definitely devastated that they failed to keep up and force another wonder draw against Nigeria. With this result, they are now on a six-game winless streak. The last time they won was in January when they beat Malaysia to a 4-1 win away from home.

This victory puts Nigeria in many World Cup 2018 highlights as they now edge closer to repeating their run during the 2014 World Cup. They also showed their quality in this game: they had more time with the ball and took more shot attempts than their European opponents.

The Nigerians who answered the call of former Super Eagles coach Adegboye Onigbinde will be thrilled to know that they now only need a single point in order to make it through to the knockout stages.

Nigeria swept aside World Cup 2018 debutants Iceland

Iceland’s chance to get back in the game is spoiled after Gylfi Sigurdsson misses from the penalty spot

What’s next?

While they only need one more point to advance, Nigeria’s next opponents will be Argentina. Fortunately, the World Cup 2018 betting odds won’t be so friendly to the Albiceleste after a string of disappointing results. However, the Super Eagles should know better than to underestimate this uber-talented team.

Meanwhile, Iceland have another tough task against Croatia. Luka Modric will be a tough assignment for the Icelandic defence, but this may help the Vikings get back into their comfort zone and pull off another shocker.

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