The Fifa World Cup Semi Finals are here and it’s exciting as ever. This is the first World Cup in history to not have one of Italy, Argentina, Brazil or Germany represented in the semi finals. Apart from Italy who lost to Sweden in qualifying, the other big three entered the competition with solid squads and even higher expectations. This version of the World Cup has been more tactical than ever, the coaching has been elite and you can first hand see the elevation of analytics and how it has impacted Russia 2018. I love it! It makes it great for predictions, exciting to watch and the execution of all importance. Here we go semi final time!
France Vs Belgium
To be very clear, France have been far from impressive. I’m still rolling with the headline fine France because that’s all they’ve been, fine. Despite hitting four past an average Argentina defence, France are the lowest scorers of the four remaining sides with just nine goals in five games. Their average of just 11.7 shots per game is only enough to rank 15th at the tournament, below teams such as Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. Yes, this is the same team that boasts Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud and Paul Pogba. Something is clearly amiss for Les Bleus. Whilst there defense has been organized and well structured I dont believe its yet to be fully tested. Denmark, Peru and Australia don’t hold a world class striker amongst them, Argentina were a joke and Uruguay without Edison Cavani? Belgium on the other hand? They score and they score in bunches! Expect this to be an open end to end game, I expect goals.
France are marginal favourites to win the semi-final in St Petersburg and then lift the trophy on Sunday, I base that purely of reputation and the strength of Les Bleus on paper rather than what we have seen in Russia.
Belgium on the other hand have averaged 17.3 shots per game and scored the most goals (14), even without needing extra time yet. They have had to beat England (although both sides rested 8 players), Japan and Brazil. Brazil had kept 19 clean sheets since the introduction of coach Tite and Belgium could have scored 4 goals under normal circumstances. Roberto Martínez’s side are the only team to have won all of their matches inside normal time, though they did need a 94th-minute winner from Nacer Chadli to finish off a superb comeback against Japan. The sight of Courtois rolling the ball to a gliding DeBruyne is forever sketched in my mind. No such late heroics were required against Brazil in the quarter-final, but France still remain slight favourites? France have won all three of the previous meetings between the teams at major tournaments, including two World Cup encounters, so Belgium will need to make history to upset the odds and reach their first ever World Cup final. With Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne at the peak of their powers expect just that. Belgium are brilliant, they are fast, entertaining and exciting to watch.
The world will view it as a shock when they beat France, but analytics tells the true story. Fine France vs Brilliant Belgium? No Brainer, expect a high scoring great game of football and Belgium will continue on there record run.
From a betting standpoint it has been one way traffic. Belgium opened up at $3.65 and are now into $2.90. A lot of support for Belgium to win in normal time.
Best Bet – The bookmakers have under rated Belgium since January when they gave us 51-1 odds on them lifting the trophy. They are now 4-1 to win it all and yet the markets put them up at $3.65 to beat France? The market was wrong and has now corrected itself, Best Bet Belgium to qualify $2
Value Bet – Eden Hazard to score, Belgium Win $7.50