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World Cup 2018: Bet of the week

With France’s impressive 2-0 victory over Belgium in the semifinals, there’s only one match left before the 2018 World Cup Final.  France has looked great as of late, so it’s no surprise that they beat an upstart Belgium team.  However, the focus now shifts to Wednesday, where the surprise of the tournament Croatia faces off against a rejuvenated England team that hasn’t made it this far since 1990.

To take a look at the two country’s histories, there’s not much there.  Croatia was part of Yugoslavia up until the 1990 World Cup, so it’s unfair to compare those teams to now, but the best Croatia has done as an independent country was in 1998 when they finished third.  Croatia is led by striker Luka Modric, who has been quiet lately but is aching to get back on the scoresheet.  Croatia was able to hold off the pesky home team Russia in a wild 2-2 game where Croatia won on Penalty Kicks.  After taking a 2-1 lead in extra time, Russia came storming back and tied the game up with minutes left on the clock.  Croatia escaped and is looking for their first ever World Cup Final appearance.

England on the other hand has been a stalwart in the soccer world for decades, but have never gotten over the hump in modern times.  They’ve been favorited to win the World Cup many years, but have ultimately come up short, whether it be by bad breaks or complete meltdowns.  Let’s put it this way;  They’re the Washington Capitals of soccer.  What better year for them to make the Final than this one?

England is led by striker Harry Kane, who currently is in the lead for the Golden Boot with six goals, and feisty goaltender Jordan Pickford.  This English team has well exceeded expectations, as they aren’t nearly as stacked up front as they were in the days of Wayne Rooney and Peter Crouch.  Either way, this should be a great match and after an impressive 2-0 victory over Sweden, England is chomping at the bit to get to their first Final since 1966, where they won their first and only cup in front of their home crowd.

Prediction

This match is going to be a barn-burner.  Both teams have high paced offenses but know how to slow the game down when needed.  Croatia is +230 to win the match outright, while England is +135.  Modric’s disappearance over the past few matches is worrisome, and that will be the difference come Wednesday afternoon.  Look for Harry Maguire to get into the mix again on set pieces, and look for Pickford to have an outstanding game.

It may look like a more appealing bet, but Croatia barely beat a mediocre Russia team.  Sure they were playing at home, but they kept letting Russia back into the game when they had it won.  Both teams have a lot to prove, but England has more talent on both the front and back end.  While Harry Kane is the star of the bunch, he doesn’t need to do it all by himself.  England in a 1-0 victory is still a solid bet, so make sure to throw some cash on England.  It’s been a weird year in sports, so why not keep that trend going with an England – France final.

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