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Belgium breaks hearts of Japan . . . and anyone who bet the tie after 90 minutes

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

July 2, 2018 10:58 PM

Belgium mounts historic rally to survive Japan, setting up dream World Cup quarterfinal with Brazil. Plus, Cousins boogies to the Bay Area, Federer favored on Wimbledon grass, and more baseball Unders from the usual suspects. No time to rest in VSiN City!

World Cup Soccer: Brazil wins easy, Belgium wins hard!
This was supposed to be a day of laughers, as Brazil and Belgium were heavy favorites over seemingly outmanned Mexico and Japan. Both global powers won stats handily. But Belgium needed to rally from 2-0 down to advance. Let’s take them in the order they were played…

Brazil 2, Mexico 0
Total Shots: Brazil 21, Mexico 13
Shots on Goal: Brazil 10, Mexico 1
Corner Kicks: Brazil 8, Mexico 7
Possession Pct: Brazil 46%, Mexico 54%
Estimated Goals: Brazil 2.5, Mexico 0.5

If you missed the game, shots on goal best tell the story. It really did feel as dominant as 10-1 suggests. Though, you also have to visualize the Brazilians looking like magicians with the ball, while Mexico clumsily struggled to sustain threatening advances. Penalize any “beautiful game” descriptions because of Neymar’s tendency to roll around on the ground in “agony” about three times as often as he should. Frustrating, because he is on the receiving end of so much contact. Just not as much as the theatrics suggest. Brazil truly looked like world champions on this day (but a challenging path way awaits). Mexico showed the ceiling that North American teams bang their heads against at this level. (Note that our category “estimated goals” comes from Michael Caley’s “expected goals” stats as presented on his twitter account @Caley_graphics.)

Belgium 3, Japan 2
Total Shots: Belgium 24, Japan 11
Shots on Goal: Belgium 8, Japan 4
Corner Kicks: Belgium 10, Japan 6
Possession Pct: Belgium 56%, Japan 44%
Estimated Goals: Belgium 3.0, Japan 0.8

Statistically a rout, though much of that came from the superior team showing some desperation while playing from behind. After a scoreless first half, Japan shocked the WORLD by scoring in minute #48, and then again in minute #52. Belgium would finally break through in minute #69, and again in minute #74. The game winner came deep in injury time on a counter attack. Heartbreak for Japan, though it would have been a big dog in overtime or with penalty kicks. 

Brazil will face Belgium Friday for a spot in the semifinals. 

World Cup Tuesday: Knockout round comes to an end with Cinderella survival game, plus big test for England
With Japan gone, the winner of Tuesday’s first game between Switzerland and Sweden will be the worst team left in the brackets according to market Power Ratings. England became the best team in the bottom half of the draw when Spain was shocked by Russia. Can Columbia compete with James Rodriguez reduced to role player or spectator? His status is still a game-time decision.

Here are market odds as of Monday evening… 

Switzerland -0.1 goals over Sweden
Three-way: Switzerland plus 165, Sweden plus 210, draw plus 185
Money line: Switzerland -118, Sweden plus 110
Goal line: Switzerland -0.25 goals (Sweden -141, Switzerland plus 129)

England -0.4 goals over Colombia
Three-way: England plus 110, Colombia plus 300, draw plus 205
Money line: England -204, Colombia plus 182
Goal line: England -0.25 goals (England -120, Colombia plus 112)

Switzerland tied Brazil, while Sweden came seconds away from tying Germany. So, those Cinderella’s can compete! England has impressed thus far…important for a country that often fails to live up to hype in this event. Could this be the year?

Time to update our estimate of “market” Power Ratings for remaining teams. We’ve lengthened the distance between Brazil and Belgium, as the first lines up offshore had clearly been influenced by Brazil’s sharp Monday form, and Belgium’s nail biter. 

The VSiN odds page shows a three-way line of Brazil plus 105, Belgium plus 270, draw plus 240 at the Westgate. Offshore, Pinnacle has Brazil -200 on the money line to advance, with Belgium getting a return of plus 178. On the goal line, Brazil -0.25 goals has Brazil laying -123, Belgium returning plus 115. Well call it Brazil -0.4 goals for now. 

Top Quarter (Friday 10 a.m. ET)
France (2.5) vs. Uruguay (2.1) 

Second Quarter (Friday 2 p.m. ET)
Brazil (2.8) vs. Belgium (2.4)

Third Quarter (Saturday 2 p.m. ET)
Croatia (2.2) vs. Russia (1.9) 

Bottom Quarter (Tuesday—winners play Saturday at 10 a.m. ET)
1F Sweden (1.6) vs. 2E Switzerland (1.7)
1H Colombia (2.0) vs. 2G England (2.4)

Don’t forget to watch “Russia 2018: The Tournament Show” on VSiN every afternoon this week for recaps and reaction.

NBA: More major developments…as the Lakers sign Rajon Rondo during the day, before Boogie Cousins shocks the world by signing with Golden State Monday night
The Golden State Warriors were already fairly heavy favorites to win the NBA title next season. Odds had them around a coin flip, in what was developing as a short field than also included LeBron’s Lakers (now with Rajon Rondo competing with Lonzo Ball to run point), Houston, and two up-and-coming Eastern powers Boston and Philadelphia.

Monday evening, Golden State signed Boogie Cousins to a one-year, $5.3 million deal that will allow the controversial young star time to recover from an Achilles injury while chasing a ring. Outrage swept the twitterverse about the current dynasty gaming the system to get even better next season. Here in VSiN City, we’re more concerned about market reaction. Jeff Sherman of the Westgate tweeted these odds to win the NBA championship soon after the Cousins announcement.

Golden State 2/3 (60% win equivalent)
Boston 4/1 (20%)
LA Lakers 9/2 (18%)
Houston 6/1 (14%)
Philadelphia 14/1 (7%)

From there it drops to 60/1, where Oklahoma City and Toronto will be looking up from “the best of the rest.” Those percentage win equivalents add up to more than 100% because sports books create a universe larger than 100% as their house edge. 

A quick summer league note not quite worthy of its own section…Trae Young out of Oklahoma made his pro debut for the Atlanta Hawks Monday night against Memphis (in a game played in Utah). Banner night for Young skeptics, as the projected sharp shooter was just 4 of 20 from the floor, including 1 of 11 on treys. Young led the Hawks in minutes played and shots attempted in a 103-88 loss.

Worth remembering that he’s still only 19 years old, turning 20 in September. 

Wimbledon: Roger Federer and Petra Kvitova current market favorites
In Monday’s report, we didn’t get a chance to touch on the other huge sports event taking place in Europe right now. Wimbledon is under way. Here are exchange rates Monday evening at Betfair, where a liquid market allows you to bet on a player to win, OR bet that any individual player won’t win. This better approximates “true odds” better than futures prices. 

We start on the men’s side of the bracket (click here to get up-to-the minute odds as you’re reading this for the men, and click here for the women). 

Roger Federer: risk $1 to win $1.66 to win, risk $1.68 to win $1 that he won’t
Novak Djokovic: risk $1 to win $6.40 to win, risk $6.80 to win $1 that he won’t
Marin Cilic: risk $1 to win $6.40 to win, risk $6.60 to win $1 that he won’t
Rafael Nadal: risk $1 to win $7.80 to win, risk $8.00 to win $1 that he won’t

Those are the only four men priced with a real chance to win. Plenty of time for upsets to wreak havoc. The market isn’t expecting many given those odds. Federer is a prohibitive favorite by normal tennis standards. 

On the women’s side…#4 seed Sloane Stephens was upset on opening day. That leaves these seven contenders getting the most betting interest…

Petra Kvitova: risk $1 to win $4.30 to win, risk $4.50 to win $1 that she won’t
Serena Williams: risk $1 to win $5.40 to win, risk $5.60 to win $1 that she won’t
Garbine Muguruza: risk $1 to win $9 to win, risk $9.50 to win $1 that she won’t
Angelique Kerber: risk $1 to win $12 to win, risk $12.50 to win $1 that she won’t
Simona Halep: risk $1 to win $13 to win, risk $14 to win $1 that she won’t
Caroline Wozniacki: risk $14.50 to win, risk $16 to win $1 that she won’t
Madison Keys: risk $1 to win $16 to win, risk $17 to win $1 that she won’t

We’ll pop in periodically with market updates. Those are more likely next week once the field has been narrowed down. 

MLB Monday: Washington loses again, Red Sox re-take AL East lead from Yankees
A few things we want to talk about tonight from the diamonds. Let’s start in Washington, where the Nationals’ downward spiral continued with a loss to Boston. 

Boston (plus 160) 4, Washington 3
Total Bases Plus Walks: Boston 14, Washington 23
Starting Pitchers: Porcello 6 IP, 2 ER, Scherzer 6 IP, 3 ER
Bullpen: Boston 3 IP, 1 ER, Washington 3 IP, 1 ER

Definitely a game the Nats should have won given that production. Hosts had three home runs, but all were solo. Boston scored its first three runs of the game on a bases-loaded double by pitcher Rick Porcello! You’d think he would have been overmatched by Scherzer’s stuff. Max laid one in there, and it ultimately cost his team the game. 

Washington’s horrible recent slide continues. That’s three straight losses, 2-8 the last 10 games, and 3-12 the last 15 for a team that was supposed to run away and hide with the AL East. They’ve lost four of Scherzer’s last five starts. Staff ace is supposed to be a streak buster. 

Nats are now just 42-41 for the season after this loss. It can be very tough to surge into the playoffs from a record near .500 at the All-Star Break. Probably going to take at least 90-72 to play in October. 

Boston moves to 57-29, now one full game ahead of the New York Yankees thanks to this next result... 

Atlanta (plus 200) 5, NY Yankees 3 (in 11 innings)
Total Bases Plus Walks: Atlanta 17, New York 25
Starting Pitchers: Sanchez 6 IP, 3 ER, Loaisiga 4 IP, 3 ER
Bullpen: Atlanta 5 IP, 0 ER, New York 7 IP, 1 ER

Another game where the home team had more production but couldn’t cash the ticket. A super simple “runs created” estimate in a game is simply to divide “Total Bases plus Walks” by four, because it takes four bases to earn a run. Amazing how close that gets to right on the money in large samples using the full majors. Both the Yanks and Nats should have won by “about” 6-4 final scores.

Yankees lose here due to a zero for 12 batting performance with runners in scoring position. Bronx Bombers fall to 54-27 on the season. Atlanta rises to 48-34, which is 3.5 games above second-place Philadelphia, a full SEVEN games above Washington. (Nats might get to 90-72 and still not catch Atlanta!) 

Oh, that’s another Under game involving the Yankees. Those are 4-22 their last 26 outings. 

Cincinnati (-210) 5, Chicago White Sox 3
Total Bases Plus Walks: Chicago 18, Cincinnati 20
Starting Pitchers: Shields 6.2 IP, 1 ER, Castillo 6.2 IP, 1 ER
Bullpen: Chicago 1.1 IP, 4 ER, Cincinnati 2.1 IP, 2 ER

We don’t normally include games with losing teams. But Cincinnati is on such a great run of late that we didn’t want to lose touch with that story. After an 8-27 start, Cincinnati is 29-21 its last 50 games. That includes a scoring 12-3 mark the last 15 outings. And it’s not like the Reds are only beating bad teams like the Chisox. A four-game sweep of the Cubs, and two wins over Atlanta. 

Not exactly a blowout in the stats here. In fact, it took a four-run eighth inning to dodge defeat.

Big nine-game road trip coming up after this series with CWS that will send the Reds to Wrigley, Cleveland, and St. Louis before the All-Star break. 

White Sox fall to 29-55. May soon start to look like the White Sox and Royals at the bottom of the AL Central is the inverse of Red Sox and Yankees atop the AL East. 

Not going to run the stat summary from the game…but the Tampa Bay Rays played another Under Monday night in a 3-2 loss at Miami. A recent adjustment in pitching strategy with the rotation has worked out great. Tampa Bay has the lowest ERA in the majors since that experiment began. It’s also leading to a bunch of Unders. Current streaks are…

0-5-1 to the Under the last six games
2-9-1 to the Under the last 12 games
3-15-1 to the Under the last 19 games

More baseball tomorrow as another busy sports week continues. 

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