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Soccer World Cup – Knockout Stage Preview with Betting Picks

| June 29, 2018 12:00 am PDT
Soccer Ball and Trophy with World Cup Trophy and Red X Knockout Stage

The group stage of the soccer World Cup is usually something like a warm-up for both the teams and the fans. The favorites are trying to go through and save some energy, while everybody else is fighting to progress and keep the dream alive.

We often see a strong side or two go down, and Russia 2018 was not an exception. The World Cup champions’ curse hit once more, and Germany is done and dusted. Argentina almost followed but somehow survived to fight another day.

The good news is that the most exciting part of the World Cup is starting. The knockouts are full of drama, heroic performances, penalty shootouts, and David versus Goliath stories. Unfortunately, there will be no African team in the last 16, which is a bit sad.

Let’s take a look at the bracket for now.

World Cup Bracket Image Round 16 Updated

Of course, I will be publishing my betting picks for each game separately, but I feel it would be a good idea to start with an overview of the outrights after the group stage.

Especially since we already know the two halves of the draw, which is crucial. You could check my predictions before the World Cup started first.

I would say I did well, bar Germany. In fact, one of my selections was Croatia to lift the trophy, and the price has dropped from 35.00 to 11.00 or so! Part of that is the easier half of the draw for the team.

But enough of that. Let’s take a look at the current betting opportunities that are worth a shot.

Left Side of the Draw

For a lack of imagination, I will call the two halves of the draw leading to the soccer World Cup final “left” and “right.” I will start with the left one, which many believe is much tougher. It has the following last 16 games.

  • Uruguay – Portugal
  • France – Argentina
  • Brazil – Mexico
  • Belgium – Japan

As you can see, there are some heavyweights here! I would say that the only team that is almost doomed is Japan. Everybody else has the potential to at least reach the last 8.

Some would probably say that Mexico has no chance, but I feel the team showed enough, and Brazil still hasn’t found its best form.

The best two teams in this part of the draw, at least on paper, are France and Brazil.

The French are in a very tough spot with their potential route to the final. Their first opponent is Argentina, and if they get through that, they’ll face the winner from the clash between Uruguay and Portugal.

The style of all three teams that France would potentially have to beat is very tricky in a knockout format. They are capable of defending in numbers and have at least one superstar in attack. The good news for the French is that they have the quality to overcome each.

Still, the price for France to win the World Cup is currently 9.00. Considering the tough path ahead, I don’t see any value here.

At the same time, Brazil is priced at 4.50, and I can see why. Mexico is a solid team that shouldn’t be underestimated, but the South Americans are the big favorite in this last 16 game. The potential quarterfinal will most likely bring Belgium.

While Belgium has plenty of exceptional players like Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, and many more, it has a lot to prove. I would say Brazil would be the favorite once again.

Still, the odds of 4.50 for the country to win the World Cup are far too short for my taste. Both Mexico and Belgium are no joke, and this doesn’t even include the semifinal and the final.

I would advise you not to take this price. If you insist on backing Brazil, it’s better do it on a one-game-at-a-time basis. You should be able to make more money if they win at the end.

As for the rest, it’s a tricky situation.

The likes of Portugal, Uruguay, and Argentina are also in tough spots. Still, the price for the current Euro 2016 champion is 26.00, so this could be something interesting.

At the end of the day, Portugal almost got knocked out in the group stages in 2016, too, but they did lift the trophy. The team is not convincing so far and has a tough road ahead, but a price of 26.00 is the only one worth a shot in this side of the draw.

Right Side of the Draw

On paper, the right side of the draw is much easier. Let’s take a look at the last 16 matches here.

  • Spain – Russia
  • Croatia – Denmark
  • Sweden – Switzerland
  • Colombia – England

It’s funny how there is only one team that’s not from Europe here: Colombia. I will have to start with the top part. Many believe Spain is the best team in this half of the draw, and I can see why.

I feel the former champs have an advantage against the hosts Russia, but next in line is the winner from the clash between Croatia and Denmark. The Balkan country has been one of the best in the tournament so far, and their midfield is absolutely devastating.

Spain should know that, as Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic play for Real Madrid and Barcelona, respectively. If you add the solid defense and a clinical finisher like Mandzukic, Croatia is one of the teams to beat.

They are the sole reason why a price of 5.00 for Spain to win the World Cup looks ridiculous to me. I don’t see any value in there, so I will certainly pass that option. In fact, the odds of 6.00 for Croatia to reach the final seem much more tempting.

If you think about it, this is the best team in the World Cup so far, and it’s in the easier half of the draw. It looks like a no-brainer to me.

As for the rest of the teams here, England looks like the favorite to reach the semis.

I would say one of the key factors in Columbia versus England would be the injury of James Rodriguez. He is by far the best player of Colombia and makes an enormous difference.

Colombia with James is more than capable of knocking England out. Without him, I would say the European team is the heavy favorite in this match. In fact, the price of 2.50 for England to reach the semis for the first time since winning the World Cup looks good right now.

The team has been performing well, the atmosphere is relaxed, and the potential opponent in the last 8 is the winner of the clash between Sweden and Switzerland. England has a solid chance against both.

That said, I have a strong feeling that the Scandinavians are on a mission in Russia. After more than a decade in the shadow of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, these guys want to prove they can do the job without him.

Sweden is performing as well as ever and won one of the toughest groups in the World Cup that included Germany, Mexico, and Costa Rica! The price for the nation to reach the last 4 is 6.00, and I believe this is insane value.

They can beat Switzerland, and they can beat England or Colombia. Sure, they will probably be the underdog if they reach the last 8, but the difference won’t be that big.

Betting Picks

I would say it’s still early days, and the group stage is usually not that telling when it comes to the soccer World Cup. A lot of the bigger teams improve significantly in the knockout stages, while other sides are simply tougher in this phase because of their style.

Still, I feel there are a couple of decent betting options out there. For a start, Sweden to reach the last 4 at 6.00 is a must, in my opinion.

PICKSweden to Reach Last Four6.00

The alternative for this half of the draw is England to get to the same stage at 2.50. While this is a decent option, I still don’t like it as much, especially if James is fit to play.

The other option worth some attention is for Croatia to reach the final. The odds of 6.00 are solid enough, in my opinion.

PICKCroatia to Reach Final6.00

As for the left side of the draw, it’s hard to find much value there. I feel that Portugal to win the World Cup at 26.00 is the only option worth a tiny wager at this point.

PICKPortugal to Win World Cup26.00

Final Words

I prefer to be patient at this point and won’t be making large bets. As I said, the knockouts of the soccer World Cup are often an entirely different story compared to the group stage. I expect to see some changes in many teams in the last 16.

What do you think will happen?

Make sure to check my daily picks, and of course, feel free to share your own opinions. Once the round of last 16 is complete, I will once again reevaluate what’s going on in the Russia World Cup.

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Jerry Summer

Jerry Summer has a wide-ranging interest in gambling and the gambling industry. He's made a living out of both playing poker and betting on sports.

The English Premier League and the NBA are among Jerry's primary areas of expertise. He's knowledgeable about many other sports, too, along with poker and several casino games.

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