Four teams. Four games. The end is nigh in Russia.
It’s an all-European final at this year’s World Cup, with relatively little surprise in regards to the final teams remaining. It’s more shocking who isn’t around: it’s the first-ever World Cup semifinal to not contain either Argentina, Brazil or Germany. In their place are squads equally deserving but lacking in reputation, and the global stage of a World Cup final is the perfect place to stake claim to greatness.
Here are the latest World Cup odds provided by OddsShark and Bovada:
With nine goals scored and three clean sheets, France has spent stretches looking like the best team in Russia. They put forth their best showing in the quarterfinals against Uruguay, where the team was able to break down a defensive side and hold a late lead. France has both style and substance moving forward: Griezmann and Mbappe are the young creative attackers, but it’s Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante holding down the middle. The size and speed of France is worth noting, as France has both overpowered and sprinted past their competition in Russia. They’ll be favored the rest of the way, and should win it all if they can get past Belgium.
Belgium’s golden generation has had their share of stumbles in Russia, but they’ve shown the resolve and toughness of a veteran international squad. After looking like world-beaters in the opening round, Belgium has had their share of worry in the Knockout Phase. First they conceded two goals to Japan before a heroic rally, then the Red Devils withstood a furious last-second rally from Brazil in the quarterfinals. Their defense has been known to bend, but the attacking power has kept Belgium alive in this tournament. Romelu Lukaku was held scoreless against Brazil, but he’ll need a moment of brilliance for Belgium to proceed. Robert Martinez’s squad is an underdog in the semifinals, but should find themselves favored if they can reach the final match in Moscow.
Odds to advance to the final (via 5Dimes)
According to early numbers from SportsInsights, the early moneyline action is on Belgium.
Back in the semifinals for the first time since 1990, England banished their penalty shootout demons and have momentum heading into the semifinals. Harry Kane could win the Golden Boot with six goals, but Jordan Pickford is making a strong case for the Golden Glove after a strong performance against Sweden. For a team associated with direct play and long balls, England have a speedy, athletic club that has also proven devastating on set pieces. Usually there’s talk about pressure on the England side, but this squad is ahead of schedule and playing care-free. The only problem is, outside of a James-less Colombia side, they haven’t really seen the world’s top talent. Their next two opponents will be a significant jump in quality, and it’ll be interesting to see if England can elevate their play any further.
Russian shenanigans aside, Croatia have advanced and are back in the semifinal for the first time since 1998. Croatia appeared in the semifinals in their first World Cup as an independent nation, reaching the semifinals before falling to host nation France. Croatia have not looked like the side that carved up Argentina in the opening round. After a tense shootout against Denmark and another against Russia, it’s no surprise Croatia are the largest underdog remaining. That being said, they have the talent, especially in the middle with Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, to compete with any team left in the tournament. There’s extra concern for this side however, after it appeared keeper Danijel Subašić injured his hamstring in the final moments of the team’s quarterfinal win.