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World Cup Football Tips: Saturday 16th June
by the Cheeky Punter
There is a bumper day of action on Saturday (June 16th) at the World Cup with four games being played across the day as the eight teams in. Groups C and D get their campaigns underway.
The action begins in Kazan with one of the favourites for the World Cup, France taking on Australia in what should be an intriguing clash. The Socceroos have produced some upsets in World Cup’s of the past against top opposition and they’ll be hoping to do the same here against a very talented French team under the stewardship of Didier Deschamps.
This is followed by Argentina taking on Iceland in a real clash of footballing cultures. Can Lionel Messi inspire his homeland to the one major trophy that eludes him as a footballer?
The second Group C game then takes place with Peru facing Denmark in what looks like an even contest. Finally, the second Group D game takes place as Croatia face Nigeria. Group D is widely regarded as the toughest of opening groups in the Finals this year and both teams will be desperate to get off to a good start.
Here’s my football tips and predictions on this bumper day of World Cup action.
2018 World Cup Tips: Saturday 16th June
June 16, 2018
Kazan Arena, Kazan
June 16, 2018
Kazan Arena, Kazan
These teams have met four times previously, France winning two, with one draw and one win for Australia. The most recent result was a 6-0 win for France.
France will be making their 15th World Cup Finals appearance, they have been winners once in 1998, runner’s up in 2006, third twice in 1986 and 1958 and fourth in 1982.
Australia have qualified five times for the FIFA World Cup, including all of the last four tournaments. Their best finish was a Round of 16 place back in Germany 2006.
Top players for each team include Paul Pogba, Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe of France and Australia’s Tom Rogic, Tim Cahill and Aaron Mooy.
Australia have produced some solid performances at the World Cup finals in recent times, most notably reaching the Round of 16 back in 2006. However in 2014, an experienced side went out meekly on the back of three defeats and in truth, their squad has probably not got any better since those finals in Brazil.
In contrast, French football is excited about this current crop of stars which promises to be one of the most talented in a generation. The likes of Dembele, Mbappe, Pogba, Fekir, Varane, Lemar, Tolisso and company have been added to an already strong squad to make the French one of the strongest squads in the tournament, and one of the main favourites to win the World Cup itself.
France finish their warm up with a game against the United States on 9th June, but they have earned two wins so far over the Republic of Ireland (2-0) and Italy (3-1). Australia also play on the 9th, against Hungary, but thrashed the Czech Republic 4-0 in a friendly in Austria at the start of June.
Even so, I think the gulf in class between the two teams is so huge that anything other than a comfortable France win here would be a huge shock and hence, I am backing a France win to nil here.
Argentina have never previously met Iceland in a competitive international fixture, so this will be the first time that the teams have played each other.
Argentina have qualified for 17 of the 21 World Cup Finals, winning twice in 1978 and 1986 and they were also runner’s up twice in 1990 & 2014.
Iceland have never previously qualified for a World Cup Finals tournament and will be making their debut in Russia this summer.
Key men for each team include Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria, Sergio Aguero and Paulo Dybala for Argentina and Iceland’s Gylfi Sigurdsson and Alfred Finnbogason.
They have without doubt the most attacking flair of any team at the finals, but harnessing that into a team has proven difficult for Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli and if he cannot do this, then he faces a real struggle to produce the good in what is a very tough group.
Of course, Argentina can call on Lionel Messi, who has the ability to win games on his own, but defensively they have looked poor at times. A solid 2-0 win in Italy for example was followed by a 6-1 thumping in Spain and prior to the Italy game, Nigeria defeated them 4-2 in a friendly in Russia.
So could Iceland, who shone so spectacularly at Euro 2016 to knock out England and reach the quarter-finals produce an upset? Their squad is not packed with world talent, but they have an outstanding team ethic and are well organised, something that perhaps Argentina lack both of at present.
I think this will be a lot closer than many critics realise and I am backing Iceland to grab a goal and give Argentina a real fright, but for Messi to save the day for the Argentinians to claim a win here.
Argentina to win & both teams to score - £10 returns £46.00
Peru have never met Denmark previously in an international fixture, so this will be the first time that the two teams have played each other.
Peru will be making their fifth World Cup appearance, their first since 1982. Their best performance was to reach the QF of Mexico 1970.
Denmark will also be competing in their fifth World Cup finals. Their best performance was at France 1998 when they reached the quarter finals.
Key men to watch include Peru’s Paulo Guerrero and Jefferson Farfan as well as Denmark’s Christian Eriksen, Kasper Dollberg, Simon Kjaer and Kaspar Schmeichel.
The bookmakers have lengthened the odds on the Danes in recent days, partly due to Peru’s fantastic form coming into this World Cup (they have not lost a game in their last 14 games including games with Uruguay, Argentina, Croatia, Iceland and Scotland.
Denmark too are on a decent run of form, having not lost in 11 games, with their final warm up game on Saturday 9th against Mexico. They have struggled for goals in recent games though scoring just one goal in their last three games.
However, one thing worries me and that is Peruvian teams have come into European-based World Cup finals in the past with great form behind them but then have massively underperformed. This squad does have a bit more European experience, but I think the Danes physicality and the quality in midfield of Eriksen will just be enough.
I don’t expect this Peru side to be rollovers, but I think this is a big ask for them against a strong Danish side and as such, I am backing the Danes to win a close one.
Nigeria and Croatia have never met in an international fixture, so their World Cup clash will be the first meeting between the teams.
Croatia are making their fifth appearance in a World Cup having qualified for all tournaments since France 1998, baring 2010.
Nigeria did not qualify for the World Cup until 1994 but they will be making their sixth appearance in Russia. They have reached the Round of 16 three times in the past.
Key players for both sides include Wilfied Ndidi, Ahmed Musa and Kelechi Iheanacho of Nigeria and Croatia’s Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic.
Both these teams have good recent World Cup pedigree and both will feel somewhat unlucky to be drawn in a group along with Argentina and Iceland. Croatia, who finished second to Iceland in qualifying, will know that this is a must win game for them and I think of the two teams they are the better blessed in terms of talent.
Nigeria’s team still has some excellent players and plenty of pace, which may well worry a somewhat lethargic Croatia back line, but this Nigerian squad isn’t as talented as some of the predecessors at recent World Cup Finals which have made their participation so colourful and memorable.
I think both sides will realise that a draw here probably won’t be much use to them and I think as a result, this will be a more open game. The crucial battle area will be midfield and that is why I have just shaded a win for Croatia here as they have Rakitic and Modric, who anchor the midfields for Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.
Add to that the guile of Mandzukic, the pace and skill of Perisic out wide and I think this will be a close game, but that the European side will come out on top.
The Cheeky Punter is an ex professional online sports bettor and trader with over 15 years of experience in the industry. He has worked for a number of top bookmakers including Ladbrokes, William Hill and Coral. He's also written for a number of leading news outlets including the Guardian, i (newspaper) and Soccer Lens. More about him here.