George Pitts is predicting extra-time in an entertaining contest in the first semi-final of the World Cup, with an 18/5 tip.
Recommended bets: France v Belgium
For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, see our transparent tipping record.
It is crunch time in the World Cup as the first semi-final takes place on Tuesday evening, pitting tournament favourites France against Roberto Martinez’s talented Belgium.
With so much at stake, it is bound to be a cagey affair and they will be counting on their world stars to stand up and lead their side to victory. Given its magnitude, it is tough to envisage it being settled in 90 minutes and extra-time could well be on the cards.
Both sides are yet to be taken past 90 minutes at this tournament and the draw at full-time is available at a general price of around 23/10. Given France have scored six goals in their last two games and that Belgium’s haul of 14 goals is the most by the semi-final stage of a World Cup tournament since Brazil in 2002 (15), a score draw available at 18/5 looks tempting.
Their last meeting saw Belgium triumph 4-3 in 2015, with two goals from Marouane Fellaini, and backing Martinez's side to win with BTTS gets you odds of around 11/2.
Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann are the stars carrying the French hopes, with the latter possessing an impressive record in international knockout stages (see Opta facts, below). Atletico Madrid hitman Griezmann is available at a commendable 2/1 to score anytime, while Mbappe is at 5/2 best price.
Romelu Lukaku (with four World Cup goals to his name), Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne are the danger men for the Red Devils, with the trio having a hand in a number of Belgium goals in recent outings and they are fancied at 21/10, 17/5 and 6/1 respectively to find the back of the net anytime.
There is definitely value to be had from the goalscoring market and you can expect both sides to find the back of the net (20/23) as their strengths both lay in their attacking line.
The nerves will be evident early on in St Petersburg, and understandably so, but this should be an exciting contest with Euro 2016 finalists France expected to book their place in Sunday’s showpiece. A score draw is advised and France winning in extra-time could also be worth small stakes considering the price available.
Best bet: Draw and BTTS in 90 minutes at 18/5
Alternative: France to win in extra-time at 10/1
Opta match facts
- This will be the 74th meeting in all competitions between France and Belgium. France have won 24 times to Belgium’s 30 (19 draws).
- This will be the first competitive meeting between France and Belgium since the 1986 World Cup, when France won 4-2 in the third-place playoff.
- France have won both World Cup meetings against Belgium, winning 3-1 in the first round in 1938, and 4-2 in the third-place playoff match in 1986.
- This is only Belgium’s second appearance in the World Cup semi-finals, losing to eventual winners Argentina in 1986.
- France are making their sixth appearance in the World Cup semi-finals: they were eliminated from their first three (1958, 1982 and 1986) and have reached the final in the last two (1998 and 2006).
- Belgium are unbeaten in their last 24 matches in all competitions, winning 19 and drawing five.
- Excluding shootouts, France have lost just one of their last 13 games in the knockout rounds of the World Cup (W10 D2 L1).
- Belgium have had nine different goalscorers in the 2018 World Cup (excluding own goals); only Italy in 2006 and France in 1982 (10 each) have had more in a single tournament.
- France forward Antoine Griezmann has scored seven goals in his last six knockout stage matches in major tournaments (World Cup and EUROs).
- Romelu Lukaku has been directly involved in 20 goals in his last 13 games for Belgium in all competitions (17 goals, 3 assists).
- Eden Hazard has been directly involved in 14 goals in his last 14 games for Belgium (8 goals, 6 assists).
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Odds correct as of 1100 on 09/07/18