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Wales, Germany Looking at Underdog Odds for Euro 2016 Semifinals

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Wales-Portugal is the undercard to the Germany-France heavyweight showdown in the Euro 2016 semifinals, but less sexy matchups often offer more value to smart bettors.

Prognostication for knockout games often boils down to how much stock one puts in a team’s potential versus actual performance in the tournament. Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal, in spite of winning only once in five fixtures, are the +115 betting favorite for Wednesday’s match in Lyon, France at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

First-time semifinalist Wales, led by Ronaldo’s Real Madrid teammate Gareth Bale, is the longshot at +320, with the draw at +210.

Going into Thursday’s matchup in Marseille, France is the slight +180 favorite with a Germany win and a draw each paying out +200. Those odds reflect how the teams have flip-flopped at the top of the future boards, but neither has been utterly dominant. Germany, of course, is 7-0 in knockout games against host nations in major tournaments.

Wales and Portugal might each be down two starters. While Wales is down playmaking MF Aaron Ramsey and D Ben Davies due to yellow card accumulation, Portugal will not have MF William Carvalho (yellows) and D Pepe (thigh) is doubtful. Wales’ losses are probably more significant, but it has had a stronger, more cohesive effort over five games than Portugal.

France manager Didier Deschamps will have his full squad, but the concern regarding Les Bleus stems from having a fairly easy ride through the Republic of Ireland and Iceland in their first two knockout games. Tournament scoring leader Antoine Griezmann, along with Olivier Giroud and Dimitri Payet, should all be relatively fresh. Having three dangerous scorers also means France has several ways to go at Germany’s 3-5-2 setup.

Germany, primarily through MF Toni Kroos, has been the best passing team at Euro 2016 and usually controls possession. It also has some recent history on its side since it eliminated France in the quarterfinal of the 2014 World Cup before going on to win the title. Of late, Germany has been chronically unable to finish off scoring opportunities, and Thomas Muller has yet to score in the tournament.

Germany also has to reset mentally after a grueling quarterfinal against Italy that included a marathon penalty shootout. Defender Mats Hummels (accumulation), F Mario Gomez (hamstring) and MF Sami Khedra (adductor) will all be unavailable on Thursday.

Many fans and media like to cite past matchups as possible omens for a big game. While Germany bounced France two years ago, France has won both major international tournaments that it has hosted. That included the 1984 Euro, where their semifinal was also in Marseille.

Germany and France enter their semifinal matchup as the co-favorites to win the tournament

Betting Favorite France Still Offers Value on World Cup Final Odds

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No matter how much the betting line moves into minus money, favored France offers plenty of value against Croatia in the World Cup championship game this weekend.

With the biggest sporting event in the world down to the last two teams, France is a -115 favorite on the World Cup final odds with Croatia coming back at +375, while the draw is priced at +230 and there is a 2.0 total, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

France went through the arguably tougher half of the knockout draw to make it to the final Sunday at Luhzniki Stadium in Moscow, defeating Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium. Croatia outlasted Denmark, Russia and England in knockout games that were tied 1-1 after regulation time, a World Cup first.

Six of the last seven World Cup finals have produced a clean sheet. However, with the playmaking talent on both side – think Paul Pogba for France, or Luka Modric of Croatia, who might be the world’s best midfielder – there’s a chance this won’t be the usual cautiously played final. The both teams to score / over 2.5 goals scored prop is priced at +220.

France has kept forward Antoine Griezmann and winger Kylian Mbappe supplied with scoring chances throughout the tournament, so they are 1A and 1B in all goal-scorer props. Bettors who are confident of France winning the midfield battle – which boils down to Pogba and N’Golo Kante against Modric and Ivan Rakitic – might want to back France at +275 to beat the minus-1.5 goals alternate spread.

Croatia defender Ivan Strinic (groin) has an injury issue and is slated to play across from Mbappe, which might make it worth taking a flier on the French teenager to add to his World Cup account.

Croatia has had a remarkable run, as it conceded the opening goal in each knockout game – a pattern that might continue Sunday – before rallying to pull out the win. Modric controls a game as well as anyone, while forward Mario Mandzukic (+300 to score anytime) has shown he doesn’t need a high volume of chances to get on the board.

The main question hanging over the first-time World Cup finalist is whether Croatia has enough left to go toe-to-toe with France after basically playing an extra game  – the 30 minutes of extra time, multiplied by three – to reach the final.

Bettors who believe they can hold France might want to pore over the method-of-victory prop, where a France extra-time win pays +850 and a Croatia extra-time win is priced at +1800. For victory by penalty kicks, it’s France at +900 and Croatia at +1000.

Mbappe (+300) has top prop to be man of the match, followed by teammate Griezmann (+600) and Croatia’s Modric (+750).

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top World Cup betting news check out the OddsShark FC podcast with Andrew Avery, Rob Trites, and Craig Cormier. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsSharkFC.libsyn.com.

World Cup quarterfinals betting preview: Brazil among odds favorites

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It could be a case of bettor beware in the first set of World Cup quarterfinals, since neither of the favorites have reached what is believed to be its peak form.

Brazil is the +110 betting favorite with Belgium coming back at +265 while the draw is priced at +235 on the three-way moneyline, and there is a 2.5 total in their World Cup quarterfinal matchup in Kazan, Russia on Friday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

History – Brazil is a five-time World Cup champion and Belgium last advanced past the quarterfinal in 1986 – might favor Neymar and the talented South Americans. The form, at least with each team’s comparative offensive efficiency during the tournament, might say otherwise.

Brazil has not allowed a goal during open play in its four matches (the only goal it has conceded was via a corner kick). It has been less than the sum of its parts – Neymar, Roberto Firmino, et al. – offensively, however. Belgium, with Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne generating opportunities in the midfield, is one of the highest-scoring teams in the tournament and has the potential to pull off an upset.

The amount of natural offense on both sides means taking the over, at even money, is advisable. Both teams’ attacks have tended to heat up after halftime and there is a +175 prop on no goals being scored in the first half.

France (+100) will encounter the tautest defensive team left when it faces Uruguay (+350, draw +210) in Nizhny Novgorod in another quarterfinal matchup on Friday.

Uruguay’s defending built around center backs Jose Gimenez and Diego Godin give it a reasonable chance of holding France for the regulation 90 minutes or perhaps the 120 that would trigger penalty kicks. The draw with under 2.5 goals offers +250 on the World Cup odds.

England (-110) takes a curious history against Sweden (+370, draw +225) into a Saturday matchup in Samara, having won only two of the last 15 matchups since 1968. England has the edge in depth and potent scoring through Harry Kane – who is +105 to score any time, and +275 to score the first goal – and Raheem Sterling. Sweden’s ability to suppress deeper opponents warrants looking at the -120 under on the 2.0 total.

And Croatia (+120) hosts Russia (+285, draw +205), and each survived 120-minute marathons and penalty shootouts in the Round of 16. That outcome could happen again. Taking Croatia and midfielder Luka Modric requires a small leap of faith that they have a level to their game they did not show in their last fixture against Denmark.

Russia’s strategy will be containment. Croatia offers +135 for a clean sheet and +220 to win-to-nil, compared to +200 and +400 for Russia respectively.

During the Round of 16, favorites advanced from six of the eight matches. England, however, needed penalties against Colombia, while Belgium needed a three-goal comeback capped by a stoppage-time deciding goal against Japan.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top World Cup betting news check out the OddsShark FC podcast with Andrew Avery, Rob Trites, and Craig Cormier. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsSharkFC.libsyn.com.