The FIFA World Cup in Brazil reaches the final home stretch, and we are down to eight teams. Meanwhile, our bankroll is decidedly on the up, with some nice wins from the round of 16 games. Dark horses Colombia took full advantage of a Luis Suarez-less Uruguay and defeated the toothless (geddit?) semi-finalists of four years ago with two goals from the mercurial James Rodriguez. In doing so, our rather tasty win-in-90-minutes bet came in, as did our punt on Rodriguez to be first on the score sheet.
France took on Nigeria with the Africans improving steadily as the tournament has gone on. However, a vibrant French side were ultimately too much for them and they came out 2-0 winners. We just missed out on our over 2.5 goals bet, and Olivier Giroud was sadly nowhere near the score sheet. Thomas Muller decided to have a day off in Germany’s 2nd round game against Algeria, but with France next for the efficient Germans he could well score again.
Finally, Belgium against the dogged Americans went to plan and finished 0-0 after 9-0 minutes. That was enough to bag us a nice Draw bet win and seal a good week. Now on to the quarters…
This Week’s Bets
Pick of the Quarter-Finals
Most of the 2nd Round games went to extra-time (and in some cases, penalties) and we see no reason for that trend to stop. There are no real weak links left in the tournament but there’s certainly plenty of attacking flair remaining. We could expect a few more goals before the semi-finals kick off.
Brazil v Colombia
Friday 4 July
Colombia Win in 90 mins
2pts @ 19/5 (BetVictor)
James Rodriguez (Colombia) 1st Scorer
1pt @ 8/1 (bet365)
Jackson Martinez (Colombia) 1st Scorer
1pt @ 9/1 (bet365)
So, this is where Brazil show whether they have what it takes to go all the way: taking on solid contenders Colombia on home soil. Star striker Neymar is a slight injury worry and to be honest, there are cracks elsewhere in the Brazilian side that haven’t really been exploited. Brazil needed penalties to get past Chile in the 2nd round but Colombia – and their in-form striker, James Rodriguez – will test them all the way. 8/1 represents some good value for the golden boot wannabe, and let’s got for a tickle on his strike partner, Jackson Martinez, too.
France v Germany
Friday 4 July
Draw in 90 mins
2pts @ 23/10 (Coral)
We’re going to be a bit boring in our third betting tip and go for a draw in normal time between two sides going through recent transformations. Both France (under World Cup winner, Didier Deschamps) and Germany (under their dynamic young coach, Joachim Loew) have become exciting young teams who aren’t dominated by one star player but rather play as efficient team units. France have some form when getting this far: Les Bleus have reached the semi-finals at least the last five times they have gotten past the group stage.
That could be the key in what will no doubt be a hard-fought match. So, France to win it in injury time, and a nice safe draw bet to see you through the week.
Netherlands v Costa Rica
Saturday 5 July
Draw in 90 mins
2pts @ 7/2 (Boylesports)
Arjen Robben (Neth) 1st Scorer
1pt @ 9/2 (bet365)
The Dutch had to pull the comeback of all comebacks out of the bag against Mexico in their previous game to progress. Two late goals from Wesley Sneijder and sub Klaas-Jan Huntelaar broke Mexican hearts, but there was controversy as Arjen Robben later admitted to diving in the first half of the game. To be fair to the Dutchman, he was kicked around the park for most of the game, and his dives were not decisive in leading to goals, but Robben’s comments raised eyebrows all the same.
Costa Rica have had an incredible run of it, winning the tough Group D as outsiders and beating Italy and Uruguay in the process. They needed penalties to get past Greece (and then only because the resolute Greeks equalized in the 90th minute) but make no mistake, Costa Rica are here by merit. They could well make things tough for the Oranje, and extra-time is a distinct possibility.
And while we’re at it, wouldn’t it be classic World Cup lore if Robben was to get on the team sheet?