The 2018 World Cup has reached its final week with 4 European teams in contention to pick up the biggest prize in world football. Pre-tournament favourites Brazil were sent packing by a Kevin de Bruyne inspired Belgium whilst France secured their place in the last 4 with ease, at the expense of Uruguay. Host nation Russia performed admirably but ultimately came up short on penalties against the impressive Croatia whilst England reached their first World Cup semi-final since 1990 with a routine win over Sweden.
It promises to be a fascinating week of football – with the opportunity to become World Champions on offer – the stakes do not come any bigger.
Here are our picks for the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup:
2018 World Cup Semi Finals Predictions
12:00am France vs Belgium – Saint Petersburg Stadium
Two European rivals face off for a place in the World Cup final in what many believe to be a battle between the two strongest teams in the competition. France came through a relatively strong group with ease, defeating Australia and Peru before drawing with Denmark in an underwhelming start to the campaign. Their World Cup ignited against Argentina however in the last 16, with Les Blues pulling through 4-3 in a World Cup classic – with Kylian Mbappe announcing himself on the elite stage with 2 goals to propel the French to the last 8. They dispatched of Uruguay with relative ease in the quarter-finals, with Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann scoring the goals as they look to reach the final for the first time since 2006.
Belgium meanwhile have impressed throughout the tournament and possess a 100% winning record under the stewardship of Roberto Martinez. With a squad littered with Premier League talent, it’s perhaps no surprise to see them get so far in the competition and they have answered any pre-tournament doubts by displaying their mental strength and they are now living up to their billing as the ‘Golden Generation’. They started their campaign with impressive wins over Panama and Tunisia before a much changed side squeezed past England to top the group. Their pivotal moment came at 2-0 down against Japan in the last 16 where they came from behind in what was one of the all-time World Cup comebacks to win 3-2 thanks to a Nacer Chadli winner in injury time.
Both sides will adopt a similar possession based game style and it could simply come down to which team is more effective at controlling the midfield. France, with Pogba and Kante will look to nullify the threats of Hazard and De Bruyne in central areas and both teams will be looking to use their focal point up front – Lukaku for Belgium, Giroud for France.
As always in knockout football, it could come down to a mistake or flash of brilliance that settles the game and with some of the most expensive footballing talent in the world on display – it could be a World Cup semi-final to remember – which France could just nick via extra time or penalties.
Betting tip: The match to finish as a draw and both teams to score ($4.6) – BET NOW
1-1 Draw (France to Qualify AET)
12:00am Croatia vs England – Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
The second semi-final looks equally as difficult to call as England take on Croatia in Moscow in what promises to be a real hum-dinger of a World Cup semi-final between two previously unfancied sides. Croatia emerged as group winners from a tough pool that included the likes of Argentina, Iceland and Nigeria and they managed to finish the group with a 100% winning record – including a remarkable 3-0 win over Lionel Messi’s Argentina. Their subsequent performances have been a little more attritional – in the form of draws with Denmark and Russia and they have lacked the fluency they displayed earlier in the tournament but have still go the job done on penalties. Their world class midfield consisting of Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric have managed to dictate things in most of their games so far and they will be looking to do the same here against England.
Gareth Southgate’s men have ignited the national interest in international football once again in what has been an impressive campaign. The Three Lions picked their youngest ever squad for a major tournament which appears to have paid dividends up until this point. They kicked off their campaign with an injury-time win over the plucky Tunisia before an impressive 6-1 thumping of Panama had people believing this team were capable of going deep in the tournament. They rested players against Belgium and looked uninspiring in defeat before a plucky, penalties win against Colombia in the last 16 – which appeared to boost the morale in the camp and give England their first ever win on penalties at a World Cup. Their last 8 tie was a relatively serene one as they dispatched of Sweden 2-0 thanks to goals from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli. They also have the golden boot front runner in their ranks, in the form of Harry Kane who will be eager to add to his 6 goals in 4 World Cup appearances so far.
The European feel to this game will ensure that both teams are well-structured and coached meaning out and out chances could be hard to come by. Croatia will look to control the midfield and therefore the ball whilst England generally look to press high and turn the ball over and use the pace of Jesse Lingard and Raheem Sterling to cause their opposition problems in high areas.
With Croatia last reaching the last 4 in 1998 and England in 1990, it is relatively uncharted territory for these teams and it could be a very closely fought tie – decided by the odd moment of brilliance and England appear to be high on confidence currnently and could just squeeze by their Croatian counterparts.
Betting tip: England to win the match and under 2.5 goals in the game ($3.65) – BET NOW
England to win 1-0
Anytime Goal Scorer Multi Bet
We’re backing two players to score in their respective semi-finals as a double with a betting stake of $50:
France vs Belgium – Kylian Mbappe to score anytime
England vs Croatia – Harry Kane to score anytime
Pays $8.09 if they both score.
A $50 wager would pay out $404.50 if successful at the current odds – BET NOW
World Cup Semi Finals Mulit Bet
We’re backing the two semi-final results as a double with a betting stake of $50:
France vs Belgium – France to qualify
England vs Croatia – England to qualify
Pays $2.97 if they both go through to contest the World Cup final.
A $50 wager would pay out $148.50 if successful at the current odds – BET NOW