The group stage of the World Cup is now officially over and it’s with great excitement that we now move into the knockout stages of the tournament in Russia.
The initial phase of the competition brought several surprises the biggest of which is Germany getting eliminated from the group stage and not participating in the elimination stage for the first time in 80 years.
Die Mannschaft were given a huge slap in the face by South Korea in their final group game and they return home disappointed and disheartened following a spiritless World Cup campaign.
The World Cup 2018 has thus far been a problematic tournament for most of the favourites. Brazil and France are through to the Last 16 off the back of an underwhelming group stage, whereas Leo Messi’s Argentina were given quite a scare having sealed progression late in their closing group win over Nigeria.
The 1998 third-placed side Croatia is definitely the most pleasant surprise this year and their compelling group stage run now has them priced at 11/1 to lift the coveted trophy in Russia. It is a far fetch but surely not an impossible one.
As we head into the next stage of the competition, the picture below shows the entire World Cup frame with the Last 16 matches.
The action starts on Saturday 30 June with two highly exciting matches. France goes head to head with Argentina whereas Uruguay meets Portugal later that day.
Spain will take on World Cup hosts Russia in the first Sunday match, whereas Croatia locks horns with Denmark in the evening. The action continues on Monday with Brazil vs Mexico and Belgium vs Japan, whereas Tuesday is the last day of the Last 16 stage when Sweden take on Switzerland and Colombia play England.
Talking about chances and odds of reaching the quarter-final, Brazil, Spain, Belgium and Croatia have been installed as firm favourites to go one step further in the competition. England is given 4/11 to go past Colombia whereas it’s France that holds a slight edge over Argentina with 4/7 betting odds stacked in their favour compared to a 5/4 price on La Albiceleste.
Golden Boot Race Wide Open
Football is all about goals and although the main focus is obviously on who gets to lift the trophy, the Golden Boot race is equally interesting and exciting.
With five goals to his name, England striker Harry Kane leads the way for the coveted award. He scored a hat-trick against Panama and will be expected to continue his flying form in England’s forthcoming test against Colombia as well.
Belgium forward Romelu Lukaku is a goal shy of the Three Lions striker, whereas Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal also has four goals in his World Cup tally. The Portuguese superstar nevertheless remains the biggest favourite to finish the tournament as its best goalscorer with a 6/1 price. Harry Kane is given the betting odds of 8/1.
Who do you think will win – both World Cup and the Golden Boot award?
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