2018 FIFA World Cup: France Now Favored Entering Semi-Finals

Antoine Griezmann
France have scored nine goals during the World Cup and Antoine Griezmann has been a part of four of them with three goals and one assist. Photo by Xavier NALTCHAYAN (Flickr) [CC License]
  • How have the odds changed for France and the remaining teams left in the World Cup?
  • What are the key stats for the final four teams?
  • Which of France, Belgium, England or Croatia will win World Cup 2018?

The French opened the tournament with the fourth-shortest odds to win the tournament, averaged around +600. Those odds got longer (+800) on June 28, but after a Round of 16 win over Argentina and a Quarter-Final win over Uruguay, those odds have shortened all the way to an average of +190.

With each of Brazil, Germany, and Spain, who were originally lined as shorter favorites, having exited the tournament, France are now the top dogs to lift the trophy.

The French are peaking at the right time with six goals over their last two games in the Knockout Rounds. But, France has been hot for some time now having only lost one of their past 17 games overall. That one loss came earlier this year in a Friendly against Colombia.

France has been at their best, though, when Antoine Griezmann finds the back of the net. France are undefeated the past 20 times Griezmann has scored, with an 18-2-0 record. In World Cup 2018 so far, the Atletico Madrid star is the team’s leading scorer with three goals and one asssit.

France are undefeated the past 20 times Griezmann has scored with an 18-2-0 record

With a win over Brazil, Beglium will meet France in the semis, while England and Croatia will meet on the other side of the bracket in the other Semi-Final. Below are the online betting sites where you can find the best odds to win World Cup 2018 for the final four teams.

Best Odds for Remaining Teams to Win 2018 World Cup

Team Odds
France +200 at Bovada
England +275 at  MyBookie
Belguim +275 at  Bovada
Croatia +500 at  BetOnline

What you need to know about the remaining teams

At this stage of the tournament each of these four nations have impressed, and no outcome this year would come as a surprise. This year’s tournament resembles more of a UEFA final, with all four teams coming from Europe.

This is only the fourth time no South American team has made the Semi-Finals, and the first time the semis have not included at least one of Germany, Brazil, or Argentina.

This is the first time the [World Cup] semis have not included at least one of Germany, Brazil, or Argentina

Below is a snapshot of some key stats for the semi-finalists.

Key Team Stats from 2018 World Cup

Team GF GA Shots On Target Avg Poss
France 9 4 56 19 53.4%
England 11 4 70 19 55.6%
Belgium 14 5 85 33 52.8%
Croatia 10 4 78 19 55.6%

It should come as no surprise that each of these teams rank high in attempts on goal, however, France only ranks ninth overall, while the other three all rank inside the top five.

Belgium have the second-most shots and shots on target only trailing Brazil in both, whom they recently eliminated. What’s also impressive about Belgium’s tournament-leading 14 goals is that 12 of them have come in open play. That doubles France’s total of six.

If Belgium are to have success in the Semi-Finals, we will likely be entertained with some free-flowing soccer.

Of Belgium’s tournament-leading 14 goals, 12 of them have come in open play

Despite the success some teams have had in sitting back and counter-attacking, as you can see each of the final four have generally held possession in their games. England and Croatia lead the pack tied at 55.6% and both have held the advantage in 4/5 of their games.

Croatia’s Ivan Perišić leads the team in total shots with 13 and two on target. He has one goal to his name this tournament and will be looking to get back on the scoresheet during the Semi-Finals against England. Photo By: Agência Brasil {Wiki Commons) [CC License]

What else is England doing well? The Sun out of the UK published some interesting stats prior to their match against Sweden: they broke down where teams are winning the ball back on the field.

England ranked number one in winning back the ball in Zone 4 (the final quarter of the field) with 8.4%. The next closest of the remaining teams? That would be Belgium with 6.3% in third.

Players to Watch For in World Cup Semi-Finals

Team G A Shots On Target Completed Passes
Antoine Griezmann (FRA) 3 1 14 8 127
Kylian Mbappe (FRA) 3 0 6 5 87
Harry Kane (ENG) 6 0 10 6 65
John Stones (ENG) 2 0 5 3 318
Romelu Lukaku (BEL) 4 1 11 5 48
Eden Hazard (BEL) 2 2 13 5 126
Luka Modric (CRO) 2 1 10 4 304
Mario Mandzukic (CRO) 1 1 9 1 80

The Golden Boot Race

England’s Harry Kane still sits atop the standings with six goals. Considering he is the focal point of England’s offense and their main penalty taker, he looks to be in good position to take home the award.

His six goals this tournament has already matched the total of the World Cup’s last winner, James Rodriguez. Going back to 1982, six goals would have been enough to win the award every tournament except 2002, when Ronaldo (Brazilian) had eight.

Going back to 1982, [Kane’s] six goals would be enough to win the [Golden Boot] every tournament except 2002

Keep in mind all of the players still in the tournament have two more games which count tawards this award, as goals scored in the Third Place Match count as well.

If there is a tie in total goals at the conclusion of the tournament, the tie-breaker will be decided first by total assists, and if still tied then by least minutes played.

If you can still find a prop on “Top La Liga Goalscorer”, Antoine Griezmann could present some value. He still has two games to play and sits only one goal behind the already eliminated Cristiano Ronaldo.

Top Contenders for the Golden Boot

Player (Country) Goals
Harry Kane (ENG) 6
Romelu Lukaku (BEL) 4
Antoine Griezmann (FRA) 3
Kylian Mbappe (FRA) 3
Eden Hazard (BEL) 2
Luka Modric (CRO) 2

*only includes remaining active players

World Cup 2018 Trends

Set pieces have been proving incredibly important to success in this year’s World Cup. The best team at set pieces? That would be England, with eight of their 11 goals coming from set peices—four from corners, three penalties, and one free kick.

Eight of England’s 11 goals have come from set peices—four from corners, three penalties and one free kick.

With 11 balls landing in a team’s own net, the “own goal” is still cashing at an 18.3% clip. Odds have come down slightly as the tournament progresses but can still be found at about +1000 odds.

If you’re expecting tight matches as the tournament nears an end, and are tempted by the big payout on a “Game To Go To Penalties” type of bet, well you’d be right and wrong.

Over the last five World Cups, Semi-Final matches have only seen three or more goals in 3/10 matches. In that same sample size, only two went to penalties and one was decided in Extra Time.

Who will lift the trophy?

Full disclosure, I have a pre-tournament futures ticket on The Red Devils of Belgium at +1100 odds. Could any of the remaining four nations still win the tournament? Absolutely. But I haven’t seen anything from them or others to take me off Belgium at this point.

They did show vulnerabilty against Japan, but I believe that was the wake-up call they needed. Head coach Roberto Martinez adjusted his tactics against Brazil, and Belgium were able to take out the mighty South Americans.

They will be tested against the firepower of France, but this is a true Golden Generation for Belgian soccer, and I believe their high-scoring offense will see them lifting the trophy come July 15.

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Ryan has always enjoyed playing, watching, writing about, and betting sports. Though winning is always the end goal—he enjoys the whole process of doing the research, finding value, and putting together the pieces of the puzzle that make up placing a bet.