- The 2018 FIFA World Cup enters the Semi-Final stage
- Tournament-favorites Brazil have been eliminated; France moves into the top spot
- The Semi-Finals: France vs Belgium, England vs Croatia.
The pack has halved once more, this time with Brazil, Uruguay, Sweden, and Russia eliminated. We’re down to our final four: France takes on Belgium in one Semi-Final, and England faces Croatia in the other.
How have the bookmakers adjusted the odds after a mixed bag of quarter-final games? Let’s find out!
Odds to win the 2018 World Cup
|Team||Odds to Win the 2018 FIFA World Cup|
With Brazil eliminated, France (+200) are now the favorites to win the 2018 World Cup. England (+250) and Belgium (+275) aren’t far behind, while Croatia (+450) trails as the outside contender.
France have come a long way since the Group Stage. They faced two difficult sides in the knockout rounds — Argentina (4-3) in the Round of 16 and Uruguay (2-0) in the semis — and they rose to the occasion each time.
And here’s the scariest thing: [France] still [hasn’t] reached [its] full potential
They were bold and spectacular against Argentina, netting four goals with their attacks tailored around Kylian Mbappé’s speed and finishing prowess. Then they were cautious and efficient against Uruguay, establishing a comfortable lead before pumping the brakes to close out a win.
Didier Deschamps has shown that this inexperienced French side can hold their own against anyone. And here’s the scariest thing: they still haven’t reached their full potential.
England cruised past Sweden with a 2-0 win in the quarterfinals. It was an impressive performance, but the Swedes hardly put up a fight. That’s been the story of England’s World Cup campaign. They’ve done well to get this far but they haven’t been truly tested yet.
Their group games consisted of two easy opponents in Tunisia and Panama, and a completely inconsequential match against Belgium. At the Round of 16, they faced a battered Colombia side who was missing its star player.
Belgium went from scraping past a lowly Japan in the Round of 16 to eliminating the favorites, Brazil, in the quarterfinals. We’ve seen both the best and worst of the Red Devils in these knockout rounds.
Their front three — Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, and Kevin De Bruyne — ran circles around the Brazilian defense. The power of Lukaku, dribbling finesse of Hazard, and passing wizardry of De Bruyne was too much for a defense that had only conceded a single goal prior to the Quarter-Final.
However, we’ve also seen some extremely clumsy defending from the Belgian back-line.
Croatia made a difficult task out of what should have been two relatively easy games. They took Denmark to penalties in the Round of 16, then did the same against Russia in the Quarter-Finals. Their two knockout games were a far cry from their emphatic 3-0 win over Argentina in the Group Stage.
There are eight possible permutations remaining in this World Cup, and none of those outcomes would be particularly surprising. All four remaining nations have had their moments of brilliance, but none appear unbeatable.
France (+150) vs Belgium (+200), Draw (+230)
Belgium defeated the World Cup favorites in the Quarter-Finals, and they’ll face the new favorites in the semis. Perhaps Belgium isn’t getting the credit they deserve here. Their performance against Brazil, especially in the first half, would have been enough to beat any nation in the world. Still, they remain the underdogs for their Semi-Final.
We’ve seen both nations improve over the course of this World Cup. France has developed into a more cohesive side, with players like Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté acting as the glue between defense and attack. They’re also making better use of Olivier Giroud, who provides excellent service to Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappé.
Perhaps [Martinez will] target the right flank, since right-back Benjamin Pavard is prone to venturing too far forward
A formation change by Belgium saw their front three come to life against Brazil. Roberto Martínez has proven himself to be an excellent tactician, and we can be sure he’s poring through the French system, looking for weak points to exploit. Perhaps he’ll target the right flank, since right-back Benjamin Pavard is prone to venturing too far forward.
There isn’t much between the two sides. Both are spectacular when moving forward and also vulnerable in defense. They’re both breathtaking at their best, and dismal at their worst. With both sides being so inconsistent this World Cup, it’s difficult to single out a winner. There’s a good chance that 90 minutes will not be enough to separate the two, and they’ll head into extra time or even shootouts.
Pick: Draw (+230)
Croatia (+240) vs England (+130), Draw (+220)
This is an interesting clash of styles. England have been the set-piece specialists this World Cup, scoring eight of their 11 goals from dead-ball situations. They’re a team to be feared during corners and spot kicks, but they’ve been mediocre in open play.
On the other hand, Croatia have thrived when allowed to play a fluid, open game. They boast two of the most creative midfielders in Ivan Rakitić and Luka Modrić, which has allowed them to masterfully control the game when given space.
England’s lack of creativity could be their downfall
Croatia have been dragged into shootouts in their two knockout games, which has definitely taken a toll on the team. Star striker Mario Mandžukić could barely move during Extra Time against Russia, and keeper Danijel Subašić was rendered immobile after pulling a hamstring. No other side has had quite as much mileage this World Cup.
England’s lack of creativity could be their downfall. Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier are both brilliant central midfielders, but they lack the playmaking ability of Modrić or Rakitić. Relying on set pieces was enough to see them past teams like Sweden, but it may not be enough against a side like Croatia.
Pick: Croatia (+240)