World Cup Semi-Final Odds, Preview and Tips
Portugal were the victims of one of the great World Cup upsets in the last round as Morocco became the first African team to ever reach the semi-finals of the tournament.
England exited the competition leaving two enticing semi-finals on the slate, with holders France playing Morocco and Croatia taking on Argentina. But where is the World Cup semi-final betting odds value?
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Croatia v Argentina
Date and time: 13/12/2022, 1900 KO
Venue: Lusail Iconic Stadium (Lusail)
High drama in the quarter-finals saw Croatia and Argentina require penalties to progress to the semis. Croatia were on the brink of being sent home by Brazil before finding an equalising goal in extra time, while Argentina survived a late fightback prompted by Netherlands substitute striker Wout Weghorst.
How much those exploits have taken out of both groups of players remains to be seen. Croatia have been naming some of the oldest XIs in World Cup history through the tournament, while Argentina remain highly reliant on their talisman, Lionel Messi, who has been in inspired form.
It was Messi’s penalty that put Argentina 2-0 up in the last round and he now has four goals at this World Cup, which means finding a way to stop him will be the top priority for Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic. Finalists four years ago, Croatia look determined to get to the showpiece occasion again. Luka Modric has been brilliant, with the 37-year-old continuing to roll back the years in the Croatia midfield.
These sides actually met at Russia 2018, Croatia running out 3-0 winners en route to the final. Modric was on the scoresheet that day as Croatia ran riot following a scoreless first half. But the World Cup semi-final betting odds are pointing to an Argentina success this time out, with 888Sport offering 4/1 on a Croatia win. However, even those who expect Modric’s men to go through may baulk at that option: Croatia have drawn four of their five games in Qatar, beating only Canada.
Argentina have kept clean sheets in seven of their last 10 internationals, even though they have shipped two goals three times at Qatar 2022, suggesting their previously dominant defence may have holes. But the fact Argentina have only lost once in 41 games – which was that shock loss to Saudi Arabia at the start of the group stage – is proof of how hard it is to beat Lionel Scaloni’s side. The coach will be without full-backs Gonzalo Montiel and Marcos Acuna, both suspended after the crazy scenes against the Dutch.
A tight game seems inevitable. Four of Croatia’s five games at the World Cup have featured two or fewer goals, with Dalic prioritising keeping things secure at the back. Croatia’s star man at the tournament has been the young defender Josko Gvardiol, who seems set for superstardom. Gvardiol and his team-mates face their toughest test with Messi arguably in the form of his life right now.
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The draw looks the best value at odds of 23/10 at 888Sport, while under 2.5 goals is another strong selection even at short odds of 8/15. Messi has been hit and miss from the spot at this World Cup, but the 47/10 for him to score a penalty from 888Sport appears to be good value.
Croatia’s experience might be telling, Dalic’s side having ground out results in Qatar just as they did in Russia four years ago, but Argentina’s extra youth could give them the edge. The 9/1 at 888Sport for Argentina to win in extra time looks a solid option, while a correct score of 1-1 at 11/2 is good value too.
France v Morocco
Date and time: 14/12/2022, 1900 KO
Venue: Al Bayt Stadium (Al Khor)
Broadcast: BBC One
World Cup favourites France take on Morocco in the second semi-final at Qatar 2022, with the north African side continuing to carry the hopes of the whole continent on their shoulders. This will be the first time that Morocco and France have faced off in the World Cup.
Morocco have already made history by becoming the first African team to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup, though they needed extra time to edge out Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal last time out. Their run to the last four has been built on defensive resilience. They have conceded just once in the tournament and that was an unfortunate own goal, so while the World Cup semi-final betting odds are suggesting this should be easy for France, it is unlikely to be so straightforward for Les Bleus.
Defending champions France knocked out England in the last round, Olivier Giroud’s header proving decisive as Three Lions captain Harry Kane missed a late chance to equalise from the penalty spot.
It has not been the most convincing of title defences from Didier Deschamps and his side. They were beaten 1-0 by African opposition in the form of Tunisia in the group stage – albeit having made changes after qualifying with two wins from two – and they are yet to keep a clean sheet at the tournament.
As Morocco have kept clean sheets in eight of their last nine games, it seems safe to say France are not going to be running away with this one, despite the gulf in class between the sides on paper. Morocco will be without Walid Cheddira after he saw red in the last round, which will be a loss for them. There are also questions over the fitness of central defender Romain Saiss, who limped off against Portugal.
With four of France’s five games at the World Cup seeing three or more goals scored, it is tempting to forecast an entertaining clash in this one. But semi-finals are normally very close, so the 3/5 with 888Sport for under 2.5 goals to be scored seems like the best place to start.
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Value can also be found on the handicap markets. Morocco +1 is offered at 6/4 with 888Sport and Morocco double chance could be a romantic pick for many football fans at a price of 7/5.
There are a few good options for those favouring France to go through to the final, however. France to win with both teams to score is 3/1 at 888Sport. France’s defence is a weak spot Morocco may exploit, with Theo Hernandez deputising for his injured brother Lucas at left-back, while Jules Kounde is a centre-back by trade but has been starting at right-back throughout the tournament instead. There is no doubting the potency of France’s attack, though, so the 17/10 at 888Sport for France to score in both halves is another good pick for those who are expecting Les Bleus to move through to Sunday’s final.
Mbappe is the main man for Morocco to worry about. The Paris Saint-Germain superstar got off to a cracking start in Qatar, but put in a more muted performance against England in the last round. Mbappe is still the favourite to win both the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball, but it is Giroud who catches the eye on the any time goalscorer markets instead.
Giroud has had a fantastic World Cup – in contrast to his struggles in Russia four years ago – and is 8/5 to find the net against Morocco on Wednesday. The price of 29/4 for Giroud to score a header also stands out given the striker’s dominance in the air.
Author: Jamie Smith