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World Cup Semi Final Tips: 10th & 11th July
by the Cheeky Punter
I bagged three of the four quarter-finals, being one of the few tipsters who didn’t jump on the Brazil bandwagon, predicting correctly that Belgium would come through that game.
I hope you managed to cash in with me!
Of course, I can’t go on without mentioning how fabulous it is to have England still involved at this stage of the tournament. I thought they played very well against Sweden in the main, although I think the semi with Croatia will be their toughest test to date in terms of the ability of the opposition. However, if we play as well as we can, then I feel we can get the result we need.
The other semifinals is an intriguing one. France looked to have really increased their performance levels over the last two games with Argentina and Uruguay, but in fairness they had to. Belgium did brilliantly to come back against Japan and then hung on to a 2-1 win over Brazil, in a game I felt they fully deserved to win, even if they did ride their luck at times.
Here are my tips and predictions for both matches:
World Cup Semi Final Tips: Wednesday 11th July
July 11, 2018
Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
July 11, 2018
Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
Croatia required penalties to beat Denmark and then Russia to earn a place in the semi-finals, Ivan Rakitic scoring the winning pen on both occasions.
England defeated Colombia on penalties after a 1-1 draw in the Round of 16 before despatching Sweden comfortably 2-0 in the quarter-finals.
Neither England nor Croatia will have any players suspended for the semifinal clash, though Vardy is a slight injury concern for England and Subasic is the same for Croatia.
The teams have met seven times, England have four wins, Croatia two with one draw. The last match saw England defeat Croatia 5-1 at Wembley in September 2009.
What a game this promises to be on Wednesday night as Croatia meet England once again. Croatia may have been responsible for the sacking of Steve McClaren after they inflicted two defeats on England when beating them to qualification for Euro 2008, but England gained revenge in two World Cup qualifiers a couple of years later, winning 4-1 in Croatia and then 5-1 at Wembley to reach the 2010 World Cup Finals.
Both teams are very different to those that played back then, so those past results will not be relevant on Wednesday when it may well be how the team handles the nerves that eventually decides who will play in the final and who will battle it out in the bronze medal game.
Croatia haven’t been at their fluid best in their two knockout games needing penalties to defeat both their opponents, while England went to penalties once, but put in a much more assured display against Sweden and in truth of the two teams, while I felt Croatia looked strong in the group stages, I feel England have been the better in the knockout phase and have had tougher opponents.
As such, while it will be nervy and I can see Croatia scoring a goal, I think England have enough going forward to grab at least two goals, maybe three, and I think that may be enough to put the Three Lions through.
After winning Group B, France have defeated Argentina (4-3) and Uruguay (2-0) both in 90 mins to reach the World Cup semi-finals.
Belgium finished top of Group G and defeated Japan (3-2) and then Brazil (2-1) to earn themselves a spot in the semi-finals.
Belgium have no players suspended and France can welcome back Blaise Matuidi after he was suspended for the game with Uruguay.
The teams have played 73 times Belgium have 30 wins, France 24 with 19 draws. They last met in Paris in June 2015 when Belgium won an exciting game 4-3.
Both these teams come into this game in great form, with Belgium winning all five of their World Cup games thus far, France winning four and drawing one. However since that draw with Denmark, it is fair to say the French team’s performance has improved markedly in the games with Argentina and Uruguay.
However, I think Belgium provide them with by far a tougher test than either of the South American sides they faced so far. After stunning wins against Japan and Brazil, confidence in the Belgium squad must be sky high and even if the same is true of France, I think they are not the clear favourites to win this that the bookies suggest.
While I see both teams being very well matched, I do think that Belgium just have that extra edge in terms of quality, but I also feel that the added experience in Belgium’s squad is also key here in what is such a massive game.
I think this will be tight and it may well take extra time to decide the winner, but I think if it does go to extra time, Belgium will have just enough to grab a goal and clinch a spot in the final.
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.