The second phase of group games has raised as many questions as answers so far. Teams which appeared to be accomplished and comfortable in the opening games are now looking decidedly fragile and vice versa. Having watched Germany’s dominance against Portugal, not many people would expect them to show such vulnerability against Ghana.
Similarly, Nigeria’s ineptitude against Iran was matched by their verve against Bosnia last night. These turnarounds in fortune have made it very difficult to predict results, but it’s still possible to make money betting in this tournament. Odds from Bovada are provided for US customers
Belgium v Russia
Belgium are a team who look weaker than the sum of their parts. They have some very talented players at their disposal, but were less than convincing in their game against Algeria. I am going to put this performance down to early nerves. The Algeria game was the first time many of these Belgian players have played in a major tournament and they will be better for the experience. Their comeback and late win will have given them confidence.
They will now also know that you cannot take any team in this tournament lightly. Russia lack the individual talent of Belgium and they looked to be short of creativity against a hard working South Korea. Belgium look to be a great bet at 23/20 (William Hills, Bet365 and BetVictor) or Evens (Bovada) to win. Paddy Power are offering 7/2 for Belgium to win with a -1 goal handicap. Belgium look fairly resolute defensively and Russia don’t look like they have many goals in them. If you are looking for a goalscorer bet then Belgium’s Divok Origi is 2/1 (Bovada) or 13/4 (888.Sport) to score at any time. The youngster was impressive when he replaced Lukaku against the Algerians and looks to have the kind of pace that will trouble Russia.
Top Bet: Belgium to win at 23/20 (William Hill) or Evs (Bovada)
South Korea v Algeria
South Korea will fancy their chances of grabbing the win in this one. They played with a lot of energy, pace and endeavour against Russia and if they put the same level of performance in against an ordinary Algeria side they will surely win. They are a generous 6/4 (Coral, BetVictor, Bet 365) or 27/20 (Bovada). Korea have a very pacy attack and Algeria’s defence looks leaden-footed by comparison. Bougherra of Algeria has always been a rather rash player and I can foresee a penalty being awarded to South Korea at some point in this game. For the first goal to be scored by a penalty is 12/1 (Bet365) or 10/1 (Bovada) while Bougherra is 14/1 (Paddy Power) or 12/1 (Bovada) to be the first player booked.
Top Bet: South Korea to win at 6/4 (Coral) or 27/20 (Bovada)
USA V Portugal
This game could be a defining moment for USA soccer. They were excellent in their opening game against a Ghana team who have since shown they are no pushovers. Portugal on the other hand were very disappointing against Germany. They must win to retain any hopes of reaching the last 16. Portugal will obviously be looking to Ronaldo to inspire them to victory, but the Balon D’Or holder looked out of sorts against Germany. He is still struggling with an injury and may be feeling the pressure of having the expectation of a nation on his shoulders. However, he is always a threat and shouldn’t be underestimated.His team mates weren’t able to pick up the slack against Germany and put in a lacklustre, almost lazy performance. If they turn up with the same attitude tonight USA will run all over them.
This USA side has a great work ethic and Portugal will need to match this if they want the points. I think this could be great game and I think there will be plenty of goals. Over 4.5 goals to be scored in the game is 11/2 (Bet Victor). I really think USA will get a win in this game and USA and Both Teams to Score is 11/2 (Bovada) and 8/1 (Stan James).
Top Bet: USA and Both Teams to Score at 11/2 (Bovada) or 8/1 (Stan James)