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France dominates even without the ball

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

July 10, 2018 11:37 PM

USATSI_10930312_168384654_lowres
France defender Samuel Umtiti (5) celebrates his goal during the second half in the semifinals.
© USA Today Sports Images

France beats Belgium in the first World Cup Semifinal. England-Croatia Wednesday. Plus, Serena through to the semis at Wimbledon, ninth-inning drama in MLB, and a market angle for the Las Vegas Aces in the WNBA all up next in VSiN City!

World Cup Soccer: France dominates Belgium despite not having the ball!

France’s 1-0 victory over Belgium was more impressive than the final score makes it sound. Even if you watched, you may not have realized how many more high-quality chances the French were creating despite only possessing the ball 40% of the time. 

Let’s run the stats, and you’ll see what was so impressive. 

France 1, Belgium 0

Total Shots: France 19, Belgium 9

Shots on Goal: France 5, Belgium 3

Corner Kicks: France 4, Belgium 5

Possession Pct: France 40%, Belgium 60%

Estimated Goals: France 1.8, Belgium 0.5

ESPN’s box score shows Belgium owning possession percentage 60% to 40% (other sources had it even more one-sided)...yet France won shot attempts 19-9, and Michael Caley’s expected goals 1.8 to 0.5. (Those are posted on his twitter site @Caley_graphics after each game.) That’s great offense (not quite fully rewarded) and excellent defense from the slight pre-game favorites.

The French defense had a hiccup vs. Argentina in a high scoring win. Otherwise, opponents are having trouble getting great shots. 

Opponents' Expected Goals vs. France

Australia 0.2

Peru 0.3

Denmark 0.1 (kind of a double tank job)

Argentina 1.0

Uruguay 0.7

Belgium 0.5

Suffocating through group play, Argentina scored three while only “creating” one, which can happen with skilled shooters. Uruguay and Belgium got close on some long low-percentage tries. 

France is one win away from “defense wins championships” holding true in another big event. It awaits the winner of England vs. Croatia that will be played Wednesday. The three-way lines below are from the Westgate by way of the odds page at VSiN.com. Money line and goal line numbers come from respected offshore site Pinnacle. 

England (-0.2 goals) vs. Croatia

Three-way: England plus 135, Croatia plus 250, draw plus 195

Money line: England -164, Croatia plus 149

Goal Line: England -0.25 goals (Croatia -105, England -101)

Not much new to report here. The 90-minute draw is a popular choice in what’s expected to be a competitive game with a low Over/Under of two. You can see why we made it England -0.2 goals. The goal line of -0.25 is seeing the slightest of vigorish toward Croatia. If you’re not familiar with handicap betting, a line of -0.25 means that the punter (bettor) gets half of his regulation 90-minute bet at pick-em, and half at minus or plus 0.5 goals depending on whether he took the favorite or the dog. 

The guys on “Russia 2018: The Tournament Show” will have a recap Wednesday afternoon. Plus, they’ll take an early look at Sunday’s final. Odds should be up quick globally. France is commonly a -150 favorite at the moment to win the World Cup. That means it would be a favorite over either England or Croatia. 

We currently make our estimated “market” Power Ratings France 2.5, England 2.4, Croatia 2.2.

Wimbledon: Serena Williams drops a set, but is through to the semis. Men’s quarters set for Wednesday

Bettors rooting for Serena Williams to win another major had a bit of a sweat in Tuesday’s quarterfinals. Serena dropped the first set before rallying as a huge favorite to beat Camila Georgi. Here’s the women’s quarterfinal scoreboard.

Serena Williams beat Camila Georgi 3-6, 6-3, 6-4

Julia Georges beat Kiki Bertens 3-6, 7-5, 6-1

Angelique Kerber beat Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 7-5

Jelena Ostapenko beat Dominika Cibulkova 7-5, 6-4

Now, the latest exchange odds for the final four as of Tuesday night at Betfair overseas (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 $2.75, risk $2.80 to win $1 that she won’t win

Jelena Ostapenko: risk $1 to win $4.80, risk $4.90 to win $1 that she won’t win

Julia Georges: risk $1 to win $11.50, risk $12.00 to win $1 that she won’t win

The men are back in action Wednesday with their quarterfinals. The exchange numbers from Betfair as of Tuesday evening (click here for live numbers as you read). 

Roger Federer: risk $1 to win $0.89, risk $0.91 to win $1 that he won’t win

Novak Djokovic: risk $1 to win $4.10, risk $4.30 to win $1 that he won’t win

Rafael Nadal: risk $1 to win $5.60, risk $5.80 to win $1 that he won’t win

Milos Raonic: risk $1 to win $19.00, risk $20.00 to win $1 that he won’t win

Juan Martin Del Potro: risk $1 to win $20.00, risk $21.00 to win $1 that he won’t win

John Isner: risk $1 to win $41.00, risk $49.00 to win $1 that he won’t win

Kevin Anderson: risk $1 to win $69.00, risk $74.00 to win $1 that he won’t win

Kei Nishikori: risk $1 to win $94, risk $119.00 to win $1 that he won’t win

Here are match odds from bookmaker.eu for Wednesday’s men’s quarterfinals, and Thursday’s women’s semifinals…

Wednesday’s men’s quarterfinals

Roger Federer (-1600) vs. Kevin Anderson (plus 900)

Milos Raonic (-156) vs. John Isner (plus 131)

Novak Djokovic (-576) vs. Kei Nishikori (plus 436)

Rafael Nadal (-275) vs. Juan Martin Del Potro (plus 230)

Thursday’s women's semifinals

Serena Williams (-320) vs. Julia Georges (plus 265)

Angelique Kerber (-160) vs. Jelena Ostapenko (plus 135)

Get ready for some tie-breakers in Raonic/Isner! VSiN broadcasts will keep you posted on results as the day progresses. 

Tuesday MLB: Reds score SEVEN in the ninth to stun Indians (and chalk lovers)! 

We were barely going to mention Cincinnati/Cleveland when we saw it was 4-0 heading into the ninth inning. Then, it became our lead baseball story.

Cincinnati (plus 210) 7, Cleveland 4 

Total Bases Plus Walks: Cincinnati 17, Cleveland 16

Starting Pitchers: Romano 7.1 IP, 3 ER, Bauer 8 IP, 0 ER

Bullpen: Cincinnati 2 IP, 0 ER, Cleveland 1 IP, 7 ER

Shell shock for Trevor Bauer of the Indians, who had to figure he had a win locked up after eight scoreless innings with 12 strikeouts and only three hits allowed. That was one of the most dominant starts across the Majors all season. Cody Allen was charged with six earned runs in two-thirds of an inning. The Reds still hadn’t plated anyone with only one out to go!

You can tell Cincinnati clustered its bases well, scoring seven runs on just 17 total bases plus walks (dividing that sum by four is a rudimentary “runs created” estimate that works ridiculously well over large samplings). 

That’s now 17-6 the last 23 games for a Reds team many pundits (and bettors) left for dead after a dreadful start. Four straight losses for Cleveland, and 3-8 its last 11 when not facing bad teams from its own division. We’ll talk more about this Thursday in the New York Post (as the Indians open a four-game series with the Yankees). Cleveland is now 21-28 this season outside the AL Central. It’s also struggled badly vs. quality teams. Cincinnati might actually be a quality team now. 

Hope you favorite players aren’t being stubborn about the Indians. They lost in a “bounce back” spot Sunday vs. Oakland as a big favorite, then did the same thing here laying about -230. 

We can update Interleague Play here too. Senior Circuit goes 2-1 tonight with this win and St. Louis over the Chicago White Sox, losing with Atlanta to Toronto. Now 14 games over .500 for the season. 

Tuesday MLB: A’s also rally in ninth. Can’t finish the job…plus Arizona draws first blood in big NL West series vs. Colorado

Two games on the mid-evening card matching opponents with winning records.

Houston (-225) 6, Oakland 5 (in 11 innings) 

Total Bases Plus Walks: Oakland 18, Houston 20

Starting Pitchers: Manaea 4 IP, 3 ER, Verlander 6 IP, 0 ER

Bullpen: Oakland 6.1 IP, 3 ER, Houston 5 IP, 5 ER

Crazy game! Just like Cleveland, Houston carried a 4-0 lead into the top of the ninth inning. Here it was 4-2 with two outs. Oakland could only tie it to force extra innings.

Stephen Piscotty hit a solo homer in the eleventh to put Oakland on top 5-4. Houston rallied for two runs in the bottom of the inning to win it. Among the furious…Under bettors, A’s bettors, and those with the Astros -1.5 runs on the run line. 

Justin Verlander’s ERA drops to 2.05 for the season with those six scoreless innings. His WHIP is an incredible 0.83. Not getting as much help from his teammates lately as he’d like. Houston is 2-3 in his last five starts, and it just missed being 1-4. 

Oakland is still 17-5 its last 22 even with this loss. 

Arizona (even) 5, Colorado 3 

Total Bases Plus Walks: Arizona 27, Colorado 19

Starting Pitchers: Corbin 4.1 IP, 2 ER, Anderson 6 IP, 1 ER

Bullpen: Arizona 6 IP, 1 ER, Colorado 3 IP, 4 ER

Arizona scored four runs in the seventh inning to break it open. Should have been a higher scoring game according to TB plus W. More like 7-5. Diamondbacks had lost seven of their prior 10 before this one, which brought the Los Angeles Dodgers back into the NL West race. Arizona moves to 51-41 with the win. Colorado falls to 46-45. 

Some notes from other games…

*Philadelphia (pick-em) beat the New York Mets 7-3. Both starting pitchers were making their Major League debuts. The win puts Philadelphia a game up on Atlanta in the NL East. Phillies are 8-2 their last 10, Mets are 12-34 their last 46. Phils have been pretty cheap this series looking at those records. 

*Tampa Bay (-190) beat Detroit 5-2. Tampa Bay now 13-4 its last 17, as its pitching continues to dominate the sport. Another Under after a couple of Overs. Detroit is 4-16 its last 20.

*Boston (-220) beat Texas 8-4. That’s eight in row for the Red Sox, and 13-2 their last 15. Big win because the Yankees were stunned in Baltimore 6-5. That makes it a lead of 3.5 games in the race for the AL East crown. Boston’s run differential of plus 158 is second in the Majors behind Houston. 

WNBA: LA wins in overtime in Seattle…Taurasi taken ill…Las Vegas continues crushing the East

Three games to discuss, presented in schedule order...

Los Angeles (plus 3.5) 77, Seattle 75 (in overtime)

Regulation Score: Los Angeles 66, Seattle 66

2-point Pct: Los Angeles 40%, Seattle 56%

3-pointers: Los Angeles 6/15, Seattle 5/24

Free Throws: Los Angeles 11/12, Seattle 10/11

Rebounds: Los Angeles 34, Seattle 41

Turnovers: Los Angeles 12, Seattle 21

Great matinee, with those in attendance getting bonus basketball from two elite teams. Los Angeles was down 10 points at the start of the fourth quarter. Big rally! Candace Parker led the Sparks with 10 points and 10 assists. You can see turnovers were a big problem for the hosts. Seattle was able to score inside when it didn’t give the ball away. Maybe a bit too reckless in that effort. 

LA rises to 13-8 in the tough Western Conference. Seattle is still 15-6 despite the loss. 

Dallas (-2.5) 101, Phoenix 72

2-point Pct: Phoenix 49%, Dallas 55%

3-pointers: Phoenix 6/19, Dallas 7/18

Free Throws: Phoenix 12/14, Dallas 22/28

Rebounds: Phoenix 21, Dallas 36

Turnovers: Phoenix 21, Dallas 14

Diana Taurasi only played four minutes in the blowout loss. All the “instant” game summaries online did the wire-service thing from 80 years ago where they list final and high scorers without noticing that one of the most important players in the league only played four minutes! Thanks to @MuckedNuts on twitter for the illness info.

Basically a tank job after Taurasi left. Never good when you have 21 rebounds and 21 turnovers in a game! Phoenix falls to 14-7. Dallas is now 11-8 with this dominating victory. 

Las Vegas (plus 4) 98, Chicago 74

2-point Pct: Las Vegas 48%, Chicago 42%

3-pointers: Las Vegas 6/12, Chicago 5/18

Free Throws: Las Vegas 22/26, Chicago 15/20

Rebounds: Las Vegas 40, Chicago 33

Turnovers: Las Vegas 14, Chicago 12

You’re probably thinking A’ja Wilson must have had a huge game with that kind of victory margin. Only 4 of 12 from the field! A true team effort keying a 59-29 win in the second and third quarters combined. 

Las Vegas moves to 9-12 in the tough Western Conference, while Chicago falls to 7-13 in the weaker East. Could the market be missing that East/West dynamic as it regards the Aces? Took awhile for Las Vegas to get its footing this season. In its last six games vs. the East…

Las Vegas (plus 4) won at Chicago 98-74

Las Vegas (plus 4) beat Connecticut 94-90

Las Vegas (-4.5) beat Chicago 84-80 (non-cover)

Las Vegas (plus 1.5) beat New York 88-78

Las Vegas (plus 10) won at New York 78-63

Las Vegas (plus 4) won at Indiana 101-92 in overtime

HELLO! That’s 6-0 straight up, with the Aces underdogs five times. The record against the spread is 5-1. So, for now, pretty clear evidence that the Aces aren’t getting enough respect against the East. Covers were by margins of 28, 8, 11.5, 25, and 4 in regulation. Miss was by half-a-point. Big area of opportunity if the market doesn’t correct.

Speaking of the market…we’ll finish the day with our estimated “market” Power Ratings for the WNBA. We’re going to start boosting some home courts, because the market appears to be doing so. 

85: Minnesota, Los Angeles, Seattle (home)

84: Seattle (road)

83: Phoenix

82: Washington, Dallas

78: Connecticut

77: Atlanta

75: Las Vegas (home), Chicago (home)

74: Las Vegas (road), Chicago (road)

74: New York

73: Indiana

See you Thursday.

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