Tenner On: Our best bets for the final and third-place playoff
Armed with nothing but a £10 stake and their own judgement, the Insider editorial team fight to be crowned the World Cup's top tipster.
Over 2.5 goals in Belgium v England, under 2.5 goals in France v Croatia: £10 at 11/8*
Call me boring but, with my nearest rival going all out for the win, I’m going to have to play it safe in order to try and defend my spot at the top of table.
We said in the Big Bet Manifesto before the tournament had even begun that goals are a guarantee in third-place play-off matches.
Belgium and England have both been defensively vulnerable this tournament and, fielding a mixture of tired legs and fresh squad players, I don’t see that pattern changing this year.
I’m backing unders on Sunday, though.
Only one World Cup final since 1986 has seen over 2.5 goals, with Emmanuel Petit’s stoppage-time goal in 1998 responsible for the one exception.
Given there have been two or fewer goals in all but one of France and Croatia’s six knockout matches up until this point, another cagey game looks likely.
Belgium to beat England and France to win the World Cup: £10 at 2/1*
Belgium have beaten England in a dead rubber once already this tournament, and I fancy them to do so even more comfortably this time around.
Roberto Martinez’s side played well for long spells of their semi-final against France, whereas Gareth Southgate’s men were in pieces at the end of theirs against Croatia.
As for the final, I expect France to lift the trophy. However, Didier Deschamps’ conservative approach, coupled with Croatia’s resilience, means I wouldn’t be surprised if the match was decided in either extra-time or on penalties.
Belgium to win & over 3.5 goals and under 2.5 goals in France v Croatia: £10 at 11/2*
Both teams have scored in eight of the last 10 World Cup third-place play-offs, with one team scoring at least three goals in seven of them.
Having had a longer turnaround time, I expect Belgium to have the better of a high-scoring game.
The final should be significantly cagier, with both of these sides’ quarter-finals and semi-finals featuring under 2.5 goals in 90 minutes.
Belgium to win and over 2.5 goals and France to win and under 2.5 goals: £10 at 17/2*
Each of the last 10 third-place play-off matches at the World Cup have seen three or more goals and I expect this one to be no different.
Belgium should have the better of it, though, just like they did in the group stage.
In the final, I’m backing France to have the better of a tight affair.
There have been under 2.5 goals in 90 minutes in both sides’ quarter- and semi-final matches, while there has been just one World Cup final since 1990 to have seen three or more goals scored.
Les Bleus should come through in the end, given that Croatia have gone to extra time in three consecutive matches.
France to win in extra time: £10 at 8/1*
Needing to win at least £70 to have a chance of catching Clee this weekend, I’ve decided to go tactical.
Croatia have taken their last three opponents to extra time, and I can see them doing so again in Moscow given that the last three World Cup finals have all gone beyond 90 minutes.
France should win in the end, though, as Croatia’s extra minutes are surely going to catch up with them at some point.
*Odds subject to change.
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