World Cup Quarter-Final Odds, Preview and Tips
The business end of Qatar 2022 is upon us with two juicy ties getting the quarter-finals under way on Friday – Croatia take on favourites Brazil before Argentina face off against Netherlands.
They both promise to be great games, but where is the value in the World Cup quarter-final betting odds? Let’s take a look.
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Netherlands v Argentina
Date and time: 09/12/2022, 1900 KO
Venue: Lusail Iconic Stadium (Lusail)
Argentina have yet to show their best form at Qatar 2022, which could be ominous for the rest of the remaining contenders for the crown. Lionel Messi, however, appears in the mood to deliver a long-awaited World Cup title on what is widely expected to be his final appearance at the competition.
Messi’s side made hard work of their round of 16 game against Australia, taking a 2-0 lead but allowing the Socceroos to get back into the match during the second half. Nevertheless, they were able to close out the victory and take their place in the quarter-finals – a stage they have reached four times in the last five tournaments. They were beaten finalists in 2014, having knocked out Netherlands in the semis.
That game ended in a 0-0 draw after extra time, with Argentina going through 4-2 on penalties on the day. When Argentina and Netherlands played during the group stage of the 2006 World Cup, that match also ended without a goal being scored, indicating these two traditional powerhouses are well matched.
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal was at the helm for that 2014 semi and the veteran coach is back in charge, having gone through gruelling treatment for prostate cancer during qualifying. Van Gaal is hugely popular with his players and one of the finest tacticians in the game, so while Argentina look to have more individual quality on paper, Van Gaal’s presence in the dugout might give them a vital edge here.
The return to fitness of star striker Memphis Depay has also provided a boost for the Dutch. Depay has been battling a thigh injury during the domestic campaign but was able to take his place in the starting XI against United States in the last round, a game in which he scored his first goal of the tournament.
A fully fit Depay adds a new threat to a Netherlands attack that was too reliant on the young winger Cody Gakpo during the group stage. PSV starlet Gakpo, who is expected to be in high demand during the January transfer window, found the net in all three group games and he is one to watch for his side.
Netherlands have been surprisingly strong at the back during the World Cup so far, conceding only twice in four games. Despite a difficult campaign at club level with Liverpool, leader Virgil van Dijk has been in fine form at the back, helping to provide protection for the rookie goalkeeper Andries Noppert. Rampaging right-back Denzel Dumfries is also having a strong tournament, having scored and provided two assists during the defeat of the United States in the last round. His runs down the flank will be something for Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni to keep an eye on, with the expected battle between Dumfries and opposite number Marcos Acuna likely to have a big impact on which team goes through.
The main selection dilemma for Scaloni is in attack. Angel di Maria sat out the Australia win with a thigh problem but could be fit to return to the team. Papu Gomez, meanwhile, came off with a sprained ankle against the Socceroos so might need to drop out. Regardless, the excellent performances of Manchester City hotshot Julian Alvaraz is likely to ensure the young striker keeps his place as the main forward.
Although Argentina have scored at least twice in five of their last six matches at the World Cup, it seems safe to say this will be a tight game, following up the goalless draws they played out against the Dutch during the 2006 and 2014 tournaments. Under 2.5 goals is therefore favoured despite short odds of 8/15 with 888Sport, while a draw in 90 minutes appears to be the likeliest outcome at 43/20.
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It is hard to look beyond Messi on the goalscorer markets. Argentina’s main man is in supreme form and has opened the scoring in three of his side’s games at the World Cup. Indeed, that would have been the case in all four games, but the Paris Saint-Germain star was denied from the penalty spot against Poland. Messi to score any time is decent value at 6/4 with 888Sport, while he is 4/1 to get the first goal again.
A repeat of Argentina’s penalties victory from the 2014 semi-final also appeals at 17/2 with 888Sport. On the correct scores market – covering the first 90 minutes – the 5/1 at 888Sport for a 1-1 draw stands out.
Croatia v Brazil
Date and time: 09/12/2022, 1500 KO
Venue: Education City Stadium (Doha)
The first quarter-final at Qatar 2022 sees tournament favourites Brazil take on the beaten finalists from four years ago, Croatia, but the World Cup betting odds are pointing firmly in one side’s favour. Brazil have beaten Croatia in both previous World Cup meetings and are expected to make it three in a row.
Brazil have been easily the most impressive team at the tournament so far. While they did lose 1-0 to Cameroon during the group stages, twin wins over Serbia and Switzerland without conceding a goal had allowed Tite to ring the changes in that game, resting his stars and getting minutes into fringe players.
Injuries have caused issues for the Selecao during the competition, with striker Gabriel Jesus set to miss the rest of the tournament while regular left-back Alex Sandro is also expected to sit this one out. But Brazil were able to welcome back talisman Neymar for the round of 16 demolition of South Korea, a 4-1 victory that could have been by a more comprehensive scoreline, with their attack in irresistible form.
Brazil have been knocked out at the quarter-final stage at three of the four World Cups since they collected the last of their record fifth crowds at the 2002 tournament in Japan and South Korea. They remain scarred by the 7-1 humiliation to Germany on home soil in the semi-final eight years ago, with Neymar among the players who appear to be desperate to right the wrongs of that dire display.
Neymar was missing through injury on that occasion but the return to fitness of the Paris Saint-Germain star for the business end of Qatar 2022 comes at the ideal time for Tite. Neymar is expected to again be handed the key role as a number 10 behind Richarlison, who has three goals in three World Cup games.
Croatia might be able to select Borna Sosa at left-back after he missed the penalties win over Japan in the last round with a virus. Coach Zlatko Dalic will also be hoping for good news on Josip Stamisic, who was another absentee against the Samurai Blue as a result of a muscle problem.
Luka Modric could be playing in his final World Cup game at the age of 37. Still the star man for his side, Modric’s advanced age does not seem to be slowing him down, but the experience in the Croatia side is both a strength and a weakness. While they know how to win – most of their likely XI for Friday’s clash are still around from the run to the final at Russia 2018 – Dalic has been naming some of the oldest teams at Qatar 2022 and that could catch up with them against a Brazil side that attacks at lightning pace from all kinds of angles.
The key player for Croatia’s hopes of causing an upset against the World Cup quarter-final betting odds is their exceptional young defender Josko Gvardiol. The RB Leipzig centre-back has been strongly linked with a big money move to Chelsea, but his price tag has skyrocketed during the World Cup as a result of a series of strong performances at the back, helping to keep a pair of group stage clean sheets. Although a misfiring attack clicked against Canada, Croatia have scored a single goal in their other three games.
That lack of threat is likely to be costly against a Brazil side with myriad attacking threats, from Neymar and Richarlison to livewire wingers Raphinha, Vinicius Jr and Antony. It is hard to argue against Brazil being strong favourites in the World Cup quarter-final betting odds, but their price of 4/11 to win is low.
Brazil -1 landed easily in the last round and should do again at decent odds of 21/20 with 888Sport. Richarlison’s any time scorer price of 7/5 stands out, as does Brazil to win both halves at 43/20. Brazil/Brazil at evens on the HT/FT market is another alternative, while the 7/1 on a 3-0 victory for the Selecao is the most attractive option on the correct scores market at 888Sport.
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Adding in Richarlison to score the first goal to make it a scorecast bumps up the price to a tempting 27/1.
Author: Jamie Smith