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Croatia carries underdog role into final vs. France

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

July 12, 2018 12:05 AM

It’s coming…DOH! England’s song ends with an overtime loss to Croatia in the World Cup semifinals. Plus…Roger Federer shocked as -1600 favorite 13-11 in the fifth set at Wimbledon! And friend of VSiN Derek Stevens is betting on in-house odds makers for his new sports books. Busy day in VSiN City!

World Cup Soccer: Cinderella Croatia turns it on late to end England’s hopes
England scored early on a free kick, igniting celebrations and song throughout the nation. But Croatia’s never-say-die attitude inspired a rally to tie in regulation, and ultimately a game winning goal in 30 minutes of extra time.  

First, the stats. 

Croatia 2, England 1 (in extra time)
Total Shots: Croatia 22, England 11
Shots on Goal: Croatia 7, England 1
Corner Kicks: Croatia 8, England 4
Possession Pct: Croatia 54%, England 46%
Estimated Goals: Croatia 1.5, England 0.7

Granting that some of that was from a frantic come-from-behind effort…Croatia probably wouldn’t have won shots on goal plus penalty kicks 15-5 if the game had been even the whole way. Still, that’s impressive dominance for a pre-game underdog. 

Michael Caley’s “expected goal” stats were presented on twitter throughout the game today (@Caley_graphics). Look at how these show the progression of Croatia’s surge.

At Halftime: Croatia 0.1, England 0.4
End of Regulation: Croatia 0.7, England 0.5
After Extra Time: Croatia 1.5, England 0.7

That’s 1.4 to 0.3 from halftime on! If you watched, you’d have to say that’s right. Croatia had much fresher legs throughout the second half, despite playing its third straight “overtime” affair. Then, when Croatia’s stars obviously ran out of gas…it still did enough defensively to keep England from getting good looks at the net.

Championship weekend is set. Let’s run early odds from the third-place game and the title tilt. Three-way lines are from the Westgate by way of the soccer odds page at our website. Money lines to advance, and goal lines for regulation time come from respected offshore site Pinnacle. 

Saturday’s Third Place Attraction: Belgium (-0.3 goals) vs. England
Three-way: Belgium plus 130, England plus 200, draw plus 250
Money line: Belgium -149, England plus 13
Goal Line: Belgium -0.5 goals (England -145, Belgium plus 129)

Not a “real” game of stars vs. stars. Both sides could start a lot of backups. The Over/Under is a full three goals because defense is often lacking in these virtual exhibitions. Belgium has been receiving respected money out of the gate. 

Sunday’s World Championship: France (-0.5 goals) vs. Croatia
Three-way: France -110, Croatia plus 360, draw plus 225
Money line: France -250, Croatia plus 219
Goal Line: France -0.5 goals (Croatia -106, England plus 100)

Quite a jump here from prior expectations. Some of that may be due to France’s impressive victory over Belgium (1.8 to 0.5 in Caley’s expected goals). You have to think the weariness of Croatia in the final moments Wednesday are also playing a role. One less day to prepare…and the hurdle of battling patient, talented France after three straight overtime drainers. 

This line, across the board, is extremely similar to France vs. Uruguay in the quarterfinals. Croatia’s been in better form than “shorthanded” Uruguay was entering that encounter. Our Power Ratings estimated -0.3 goals for France…and Croatia played well! Maybe this line represents 2.6 to 2.2 on our scale, with a tenth of a goal for fatigue. Maybe it’s still 2.5 to 2.2, and two-tenths for fatigue. 

Back with you Friday with a market update and more thoughts on the final. Be sure you watch  “Russia 2018: The Tournament Show” each day through the World Cup. 

Wimbledon: Nadal-Del Potro lasted almost five hours, and it WASN’T the big story! 
Amazing day for sports fans in England. Prohibitive favorite Roger Federer was shocked in the men’s quarterfinals laying -1600. How many parlays did THAT spike?! Tennis lovers were also treated to a four-hour, 47 minute thriller featuring Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin Del Potro. Let’s run the final results before updating market prices. 

Men’s Quarterfinal Results
Kevin Anderson (plus 900) beat Roger Federer 2-6, 6-7, 7-5, 6-4, 13-11
John Isner (plus 130) beat Milos Raonic 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 6-3
Novak Djokovic (-575) beat Kei Nishikori 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2
Rafael Nadal (-275) beat Juan Martin Del Potro 7-5, 6-7, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4

There’s an American in the semifinals! If Isner can keep breaking serve occasionally, who knows? Let’s move to Wednesday night odds to win from the Betfair exchange overseas (click here for the freshest)…

Novak Djokovic: risk $1 to win $1.52, risk $1.56 to win $1 that he won’t win
Rafael Nadal: risk $1 to win $1.70, risk $1.74 to win $1 that he won’t win
Kevin Anderson: risk $1 to win $7.20, risk $7.60 to win $1 that he won’t win
John Isner: risk $1 to win $7.50, risk $8.00 to win $1 that he won’t win

Not much changed in advance of the women’s semifinals set for Thursday. You have to bet a bit more now on Ostapenko or Georges NOT to win (click here to get live numbers as you read)…

Serena Williams: risk $1 to win $1.02, risk $1.06 to win $1 that she won’t win
Angelique Kerber: risk $1 to win $2.70, risk $2.75 to win $1 that she won’t win
Jelena Ostapenko: risk $1 to win $4.80, risk $5.60 to win $1 that she won’t win
Julia Georges: risk $1 to win $11.50, risk $12.50 to win $1 that she won’t win

Now we move to match odds for the semifinals from bookmaker.eu.

Thursday’s women's semifinals
Serena Williams (-350) vs. Julia Georges (plus 290)
Angelique Kerber (-165) vs. Jelena Ostapenko (plus 140)

Friday’s men’s semifinals
Novak Djokovic (-117) vs. Rafael Nadal (-103)
John Isner (-110) vs. Kevin Anderson (-110)

Bookmaker has Isner-Anderson a toss-up head-to-head, though Betfair has Anderson the slightly more likely choice to go the distance.

As has been the case all week, VSiN's morning programming will keep you up to speed on all the action from Wimbledon.  

MLB Wednesday: Bay Area doing business! Giants and A’s beat Cubs and Astros 
Just a couple of game boxes for you today. Let’s check in on victories for the Giants and A’s over quality opponents. 

San Francisco (pick-em) 5, Chicago 4 (in 13 innings) 
Total Bases Plus Walks: Chicago 26, San Francisco 25
Starting Pitchers: Montgomery 5 IP, 4 ER, Cueto 5 IP, 3 ER
Bullpen: Chicago 7.2 IP, 1 ER, San Francisco 8 IP, 1 ER

San Francisco takes two of three against a market power in the National League. Giants move to 49-46, and are 24-16 their last 40 games. Believe it or not, SF is the fourth most profitable betting team in the NL this season. Chicago falls to 52-38. Cubs are down just over one betting unit for the season despite being 14 games over. 500.

Oakland (plus 190) 8, Houston 3 
Total Bases Plus Walks: Oakland 24, Houston 11
Starting Pitchers: Bassitt 5 IP, 3 ER, McCullers 4 IP, 6 ER
Bullpen: Oakland 4 IP, 0 ER, Houston 5 IP, 2 ER

Oakland has been on some kind of tear lately. Now 18-5 its last 23 games…including 2-1 in Houston (one game left in the series early Thursday) and 4-2 against playoff-bound Cleveland. Big road bats were evident even in a pitchers’ park. 

Oakland moves to 52-41 on the season. Houston is still 62-33, but reeling a bit after demoting its closer to Triple A after some recent failures. Oakland has been the much more profitable team for bettors despite that clear edge for the Astros in the standings. A’s now plus 16 units for the season (third best in the AL behind Boston and Seattle). Houston only up five units.

WNBA: Two jet-weary hosts lose as favorites
Only room to touch on the scores today. Odd schedule situation with three day games. Two of the hosts were coming off West Coast swings, and it showed with lousy results. 

*New York (plus 9) upset Connecticut 79-76
*Atlanta (plus 8) upset Washington 106-89
*Minnesota (-9.5) got revenge on Indiana 87-65

Connecticut was playing a first home game after a four-game road trip on the other side of the country. That’s what it took for New York to play a good game! Liberty covered by a dozen. Washington had only played two road games out West, but no-showed much harder in a market miss of 25 points. 

Quick update of our estimated “market” Power Ratings for the WNBA…

85: Minnesota, Los Angeles, Seattle (home)
84: Seattle (road)
83: Phoenix
82: Washington, Dallas
79: Connecticut
77: Atlanta
75: Las Vegas (home), Chicago (home)
74: Las Vegas (road), Chicago (road)
73: New York, Indiana

South Point College Football Prop: Crunching some numbers
If you’ve been watching VSiN this week, you know all about the special prop created by the South Point's Chris Andrews for college football. It’s the five projected power conference champions vs. the world for the National Championship.

The Big Five: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Washington, Oklahoma
Everyone Else: all other major and mid-major board teams

Our broadcast hosts have kept you on top of this all week. The Big Five opened at -500, with a return of plus 420 on the field (which includes Georgia, Penn State, the Michigan schools, Texas, Notre Dame, USC, and so on). Early betting on the dog has dropped the line to the Big Five -420, the field plus 355.

VSiN City likes to put percentage equivalents on futures prices to help you better visualize the marketplace. That will give us some insights here about the handicapping/betting challenge. Here are South Point futures prices on the Big Five individually.

Alabama 5/2 (29% win equivalent)
Clemson 4/1 (20%)
Ohio State 6/1 (14%)
Washington 10/1 (9%)
Oklahoma 15/1 (6%)

They add up to a 78% win equivalent. In a 100% universe, that would suggest a no-juice line of around -350 (78 divided by 22, representing the 78% projected for the big five, and the 22% for “everyone else”). That’s below the opening line of -500/plus 400, and the current line after early dog betting to -420/plus 355.

But you regulars know that sports books don’t use a 100% universe. It’s a business, and they need to create a house edge. Looking at some of the “best of the rest” will take us well over 100%.

Georgia 8/1 (11%)
Penn State 15/1 (6%)
Michigan 15/1 (6%)
Auburn 25/1 (4%)
Four teams at 30/1 (3% each)
Three teams at 35/1 (3% each)

Teams projected to finish in the top 25 nationally add just under 50% of win equivalent in the expanded universe. When you throw in all the teams in the top 50 and beyond …we’re up over 140%. 

For sake of example, let’s just use 140%...counting all the 200/1 and worse teams as zeroes to make life easy. 

In a 140% universe…
Big Five: 78%
Everyone Else: 62%

That’s only -125 for a no-vig line (78 divided by 62). As “likely” as a superpower is to win the title…the “combined” likelihood of someone breaking through isn’t that far behind.  

So, we have a clear inconsistency for bettors to consider. We’re not suggesting anything nefarious here. Chris Andrews prices to protect the house from too much exposure. The public is more likely to bet the favorites in a collective challenge like this, but bet their favorite teams or alma maters as longshots individually. Sports books must defend against that reality.

You can see why early sharp money pounded “the rest” as underdogs. In a 140% universe, the Big Five would have to add up to around 115% to justify the opening price rather than 78%. 

Your challenge as handicappers? Figure out if the prop still offers underdog value, or if it’s the futures prices on the superpowers that actually have some air in them. If -420 strikes you as “fair,” then maybe Alabama should be even money rather than 5/2, and Clemson should be 2/1 rather than 4/1.  

Remember that the prop is asking if there’s enough uncertainty in the pending season that ANY of “the rest” can be better than expected, luckier than expected, or have fortune smile on them if the five superpowers (particularly Alabama or Clemson) run into surprising trouble. 

South Point’s own futures prices suggest it’s surprisingly close to a toss-up. 

Sports Betting News: Friend of VSiN Derek Stevens to create in-house odds making crew
News broke Wednesday that VSiN’s favorite big bettor Derek Stevens was going to build his own in-house sports book team for his properties…

*The D (currently using William Hill)
*The Golden Gate (currently no sports book)
*18 Fremont (currently under construction)

Another friend of VSiN, writer Marc Meltzer has more details in this article.

VSiN Business Center
*If you haven’t had a chance to sign up for the FREE subscription to VSiN City, please click here to do so. Subscribers also get links to handy sports betting sheets from the South Point that are very helpful during the baseball grind. 

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