Sports Sure Bets: World Cup 2018 Last 16 Match Predictions

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FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 Match Predictions

France vs Argentina predictions for this Saturday’s huge World Cup Round of 16 clash as two international football heavyweights bid to avoid an early exit. Read on for our free betting tips and predictions.

FRANCE VS ARGENTINA PREDICTIONS

The World Cup knockout stages kick off in some style with the pick of the last sixteen ties as France take on Argentina in Kazan. Whatever the outcome here, one of the two pre-tournament favourites will be joining Germany in making an early exit from the competition and the stakes are simply huge for both teams.

Argentina have already had a huge reprieve. Humiliated by Croatia, the pressure was on as they went into their final group game against Nigeria looking a shadow of the side that reached the Final in Rio four years ago. Rumours of dressing room discontent and the players picking the team surrounded the build-up to the game and it looked for all the world as though Argentina were on course to exit the tournament as they headed into the final ten minutes locked at 1-1. Step forward the unlikely source of Marcos Rojo to volley home on 86 minutes and salvage his team’s World Cup hopes.

They will have to play far better than they did in the groups if they want to go far in this competition but in truth the same could be said of France. Narrow wins over Australia and Peru followed by a thoroughly uninspiring 0-0 draw against Denmark at least saw them win Group C but three below-par showings only add to the mystery here.

Both sides have genuinely world class attacking talents and it could just be a question of who steps up to the plate and delivers on the day. France are the bookies favourites and it’s very hard to see them not breaking down what has looked like an unconvincing Argentine defence. The South Americans have only really come up against one strong side so far and Croatia ripped them open in the Second Half of their game, so the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe will fancy they can cause big problems here.

France had scored in 11 consecutive internationals before the dead rubber against Denmark and certainly have the stronger all-round team on paper. However in the final third, Argentina still have so much quality and as their last game briefly showed, if they can get service to Leo Messi, he can produce. Playing against a more expansive and positive side might just suit Argentina in some respects and should at least allow Messi and whoever starts alongside him, a bit more space to play in. This could be Messi’s last ever game at the World Cup and he will be determined to make an impression.

Contrary to popular belief, Messi has delivered when it matters for his country in recent times. The only reason Argentina are at this World Cup is Messi’s hat-trick in their final qualifier in Ecuador. He opened his account for the tournament with a goal against Nigeria and with 7 goals in his last 7 internationals, backing Messi to score anytime could be worth a punt.

Given the attacking talent on display, backing Both Teams to Score also appeals. Argentina have only failed to score in 1 of their last 9 matches too and even if their team isn’t functioning properly, it’s hard to see them exiting the tournament without putting one or two moments of quality together in the final third.

France Predicted Lineup: Lloris, Hernandez, Umtiti, Varane, Pavard, Pogba, Kante, Matuidi, Griezmann, Mbappe, Giroud

Argentina Predicted Lineup: Armani, Tagliafico, Rojo, Otamendi, Mercado, Di Maria, Banega, Mascherano, Perez, Messi, Higuain

1. Both Teams To Score
2. Draw 1-1
3. Lionel Messi To Score Anytime

URUGUAY VS PORTUGAL BETTING TIPS

This game sees two sides who probably fall somewhere between dark-horses and genuine contenders in terms of winning this World Cup. Neither Uruguay nor Portugal are particularly easy on the eye but they do have a wealth of experience in their ranks and this is a very tough one to call.

There are numerous similarities between the sides with both countries continuing to punch above their weight at least in terms of their relative size. Uruguay is by far the smallest nation to have ever won the World Cup and while 68 years have passed since their last success, they are certainly capable of having a very good run in Russia.

They were dealt a favourable group so it’s hard to know how much we should read into their 100% record at this tournament so far. They certainly impressed against the hosts in their final group game which was almost the perfect tune-up ahead of this game. Their two key strikers both scored in the shape of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani while for the sixth match in a row, they kept a clean sheet.

That record perhaps is enough to justify their status as very slight favourites here but Portugal are wily characters who are tough to beat and have become very adept at dealing with tournament football. They didn’t set the world on fire in the group and had to deal with a few very nervy moments in the final minutes of their last game against Iran but as is generally their way, they found a route through.

Besides from a penalty shoot-out defeat at the 2017 Confederations Cup, Portugal have now lost just one of their last 21 international matches. While the dependence on Cristiano Ronaldo is clear for all to see, they are an organised team that knows their jobs and you write them off at your peril.

They will take inspiration from having won Euro 2016 despite failing to win any of their group games. Indeed 6 of their 7 matches at that tournament finished level after 90 minutes, including a nervy last 16 clash with Croatia and it would be no surprise to see this take a similar course.

Just about everything you can say about Portugal also applies to Uruguay, who have added a touch of quality to their usual battling qualities. With just 1 defeat in their last 12 matches, they are also clearly a tough side to beat and there’s a strong chance we could see these sides cancel each other out in what should be a very tight match. Backing the Draw looks the smart bet in the Full-Time Result market and it would be no surprise if penalties are needed to decide this.

In terms of a goalscorer bet, backing Luis Suarez to Score Anytime looks good. He netted in Uruguay’s final two group games to move onto 49 international goals. This would be a very good time for the Barcelona man to rack up his half-century.

Uruguay Predicted Lineup: Muslera, Caceres, Gimenez, Godin, Laxalt, Nandez, Torreira, Vecino, Bentancur, Suarez, Cavani

Portugal Predicted Lineup: Rui Patricio, Guerreiro, Fonte, Pepe, Soares, Mario, Moutinho, Carvalho, Quaresma, Andre Silva, Ronaldo.

1. Draw 1-1
2. Luis Suarez To Score Anytime

SPAIN VS RUSSIA BETTING TIPS

This will be the game where we find out an awful lot about Russia and whether their bright start to this World Cup was just a flash in the pan or whether they can seriously compete with the stronger teams. Spain certainly fall into that category and head into the game as strong favourites despite an unconvincing group campaign.

Their only victory came via a 1-0 win over Iran but they have had almost a week to regroup and gear up for this match. That might just be key particularly given the chaotic build-up to the tournament with their coach sacked just two days before the first game. Fernando Hierro must decide whether to stick with the players that haven’t fully delivered or make changes but either way Spain should have enough quality to beat Russia.

La Roja will certainly have a partisan home crowd to deal with. The tournament organisers were clearly anticipating Russia would only finish 2nd in their group as this game will be played in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium in front of close to 80,000 fans. It’s an enormous game for Russian football but the Spanish squad contains a wealth of experience and if anything they ought to be the ones to better handle the occasion.

Overall it promises to be a good watch from a neutral perspective and there is the potential for a few goals. Russia have shown far more firepower than anyone expected with 8 goals in the group stage, more than any other side in Groups A to F. They can also take some confidence from having caused Spain real problems in a 3-3 friendly draw between the sides earlier in the season. However defensively they’ve only really come up against one side of any real pedigree at this World Cup and they conceded three times in that game against Uruguay.

Including this tournament, 73% of Russia’s games in the 2017/18 season have produced over 2.5 goals while 10 of Spain’s last 15 games have done likewise. Their midfield and attacking quality is undoubted but their defence hasn’t looked as solid as might have been anticipated so far. Basic defensive errors gifted Morocco several clear chances in their last game and they can’t afford a repeat here. Having already been involved in 2-2 and 3-3 draws at this tournament, there is reason to fancy backing Over 2.5 Goals here as Spain look to step up a gear following some below-par performances.

What can’t be doubted is that they have the quality to do that whereas you wonder whether Russia have already peaked. If Fernando Hierro’s men step it up a notch, they should have too much class for the hosts but given 6 of Spain’s last 8 games have produced goals at each end, backing Spain & Both Teams to Score could be worth considering.

In addition, going for Diego Costa to score anytime could be worth a punt. He notched 3 goals in the group phase and finally looks a better fit for this Spanish side, which has at times shown a willingness to be marginally more direct.

1. Over 2.5 Match Goals
2. Both Teams to Score
3. Diego Costa To Score Anytime
4. Spain to Win

CROATIA VS DENMARK PREDICTIONS

This all-European World Cup last 16 game may not be the stand-out fixture of the round but it will feature some top players in the likes of Croatia’s Luka Modric and Denmark’s Christian Eriksen. Both teams will be looking for their star men to perform with a Quarter-Final place on offer for the winners.

Croatia were the more impressive side in the group phase. They won all their matches, with one of the standout results of the whole tournament so far being their fine 3-0 win over Argentina. That ensured they were already through when they took on Iceland in their final match where they rested some legs but still demonstrated they boast strength in depth with another victory.

That should help them but in truth Denmark’s final group game against France had the feel of a training match, played at a low tempo as both sides effectively settled for a point that suited them both. The Danes are perhaps a bit fortunate to have made it through though following another draw against a limited Australian side and a slightly fortuitous win over Peru.

They certainly didn’t show a great deal to suggest they are capable of getting much beyond this round and there’s a good chance we will see them fall short against Croatia here. Eriksen aside, it’s not a squad that is brimming with top quality. Pione Sisto is a lively winger and they are relatively organised at the back and throughout the side but you sense the Croats will win the midfield battle and be able to form a platform that will allow them to win the game.

You certainly couldn’t throw the one-man team tag at them with the likes of Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic also very dangerous players in midfield while Mario Mandzukic is another to have played at the very top level. That kind of experience could be key also with the bulk of this Croat side having played in several tournaments previously whereas the Danish team has a more youthful feel and this will be the biggest game the majority of them have ever played.

The knockout stages of the World Cup are when the pressure really intensifies and you have to fancy the Croatians are better equipped to cope with that. They are also the team with greater all-round quality and backing a Croatia Win appeals in the Full-Time Result market.

Croatia are many people’s dark-horses to win this tournament and if they can find their stride early in this one, they are quite capable of winning by at least two clear goals so backing Croatia -1 Handicap could also be worth considering.

If you fancy a goalscorer bet, backing Modric to score anytime might be the way to go. If you analyse this Croatian side, much of their goal threat comes from midfield with Mandzukic more of a hold-up man than a prolific number nine. That sees the likes of Modric get into much more advanced positions than he might for his club and there’s decent value in backing him to net in this one.

1. Croatia to Win
2. Luka Modric To Score Anytime
3. Under 3 Goals to be Scored
4. First Half Draw

This analysis is as published by FREESUPERTIPS Website.

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