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Euro 2016 final: Griezmann, France favored to beat Ronaldo, Portugal

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While it often pays to be counter-intuitive before a championship matchup that has a heavy favorite, France is the chalk pick for the Euro 2016 final at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com for a reason.

France, which has pumped in nine goals in their last three matches, are listed at +110 to defeat Portugal on Sunday at Stade de France in Saint-Denis and become a three-time European champion. Portugal, led  by Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo but also bearing the baggage from having been a bridesmaid four times in major tournaments since 2000, is the longshot at +350. The draw is at +210.

Many observers labeled the France-Germany semifinal, which Les Bleus won 2-0, to be the real final. France has been lethal at finishing during the knockout stages, with Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann now up to a tournament-leading six goals. Their win against Germany illustrated how they can still get on the scoreboard without being ahead in possession time.

Skeptics who are still fixated on the fact France’s opening goal of the semifinal came on a penalty kick would also do well to remember they probably would have broken through sooner if they were facing any goalkeeper other than Germany’s Manuel Neuer.

France manager Didier Deschamps has a healthy lineup. France has also won 10 consecutive matchups against Portugal since 1975. It is also notable that the goal total has been two or more in 12 of the 14 Euro finals.

The best-case scenario for Portugal and Ronaldo might involve poking in an early goal and winning ugly through tough-minded marking. It’s decided role reversal from the days when Portugal often fell victim to that style of play, most notably at Euro 2004 when Greece pulled off a 1-0 upset in the final.

Portugal seems to have made the attitude adjustment required to win with defense. Left back Raphael Guerreiro should return to bolster their back line after being held out of the semifinal against Wales on Wednesday. The effect of his return could be negated if Pepe, who trained apart from his teammates on Friday, is less than 100% healthy.

It might be tempting to think that Portugal might act out the underdog story. However, the cost of their emphasis on falling back defensively is that it reduces the number of touches for Ronaldo and Nani, their second striker

In a Euro 2016 matchup featuring La Liga rivals Ronaldo and Griezmann, it might be best to back the superstar whose team keeps him engaged in the game.

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.