LAS VEGAS – The World Cup heads to the knockout stage with round of 16 games Saturday through Tuesday.
I feel a little dazed after being beaten up with my picks in my last Tuley’s Takes article on the VSiN.com website. I entered Wednesday & Thursday’s last games of the group stage with a 4-2-1 record for a net profit of 2.55 units, but I went 1-3 those two days to fall to 5-5-1 overall and leave me with just 0.5 unit of profit.
I think it’s important to review the losing days as much if not moreso than winning ones as it can help avoid similar bad bets in the future, though I don’t have any regrets in these cases.
I lost with the draw (at plus-230) in the Mexico-Sweden game on Wednesday as Sweden won 3-0, so it looks like an awful bet, but it was scoreless at halftime and my bet was looking pretty good, especially as Mexico needed a draw to advance. Sweden drew first blood and then pulled away, but it’s a situation where I’d play it again.
I also lost Wednesday with Serbia plus-1 vs. Brazil, whose first goal was on kind of a fluke with the goalie misplaying a long pass. If not for that unfortunate goal, I think the Serbs could have stuck around to the end.
The third loss was Thursday morning with the Colombia-Senegal Over 2.5 goals. Senegal has so many chances to score but weren’t able to finish on any of them. Colombia got the 1-0 win but definitely would have been on the attack more if Senegal had managed to tie it 1-1 and I feel that matchup will still bring more overs in the future.
Actually, my one victory on Wednesday – Germany-South Korea Under 3 – is the one that left me kicking myself as South Korea pulled the shocking 2-0 upset at 17-1 in 3-way betting. Part of my writeup read: “With the way South Korea protects the goal and the fact Germany’s offense has hardly been potent so far…” I used that to make a case for it being a low-scoring game, which is why I loved the under; however, I should have used it to make a case that it would be low-scoring AND that South Korea had a chance for the upset. Unlikely, yes, in regard to the unheralded South Korea team against the defending World Cup champs, but certainly a better than 1 in 17 or 18 chance.
So, I’ve been knocked down, but I get up again, so let’s look at the round of 16:
Argentina vs. France, 10 a.m. ET
Portugal vs. Uruguay, 2 p.m. ET
Tuley’s Take: I guess it’s redundant to saw these are all World-class teams alive in the World Cup, but Argentina and France certainly are, and I have this dead-even. You might think that would put me on slight underdog Argentina, but I recommend taking a shot on the draw at plus-200 (that’s the price at the South Point as of this writing on Friday night in a hotel room in Fresno, though I took plus-210 before leaving Vegas). It’s priced low for a reason, that being that this has a very good chance of being 0-0 or 1-1. In the second game, the odds have been bouncing around as many believe Uruguay has the better overall team (granted, they had a relatively easy group, but won 1-0, 1-0, 3-0 and didn’t give up a goal. They’ll need that defense against Cristiano Ronaldo, though his teammates sometimes go through long stretches of not being able to set him up – and if Ronaldo doesn’t get it done for Portugal, no one else can. Meanwhile, Uruguay has its own stud in Luis Suarez and a better supporting cast, so I’m taking the “team” over the one-man team. Saturday’s Best Bets: Argentina-France draw 210 and Uruguay -115 to advance (doesn’t need to win in regulation).
Russia-Spain, 10 a.m. ET
Denmark-Croatia, 2 p.m. ET
Tuley’s Take: It’s tempting to take host Russia against Spain, but I’m going to pass. Russia overachieved thanks to drawing Saudi Arabia and Egypt in its first two games but didn’t fare so well when stepping up in class against Uruguay and now faces a similarly strong team in Spain. In the later game, a lot of people are getting on the Croatia’s bandwagon – and it’s understandable as it went 3-0 with shutouts of Nigeria and Argentina plus a 2-1 win over Iceland – but while Denmark’s resume isn’t quite as spectacular, it also beat Peru, tied with Australia and played France to a draw. Besides, Denmark has arguably the best player on the field in midfielder Christian Eriksen, who can score from anywhere. I really see Denmark being able to play with Croatia and there’s several ways this could be played. I like the plus-420 in 3-way betting, but a 0-0 draw seems very possible, so I’m going with Denmark plus-0.5 EVEN so we have the insurance of cashing if the game is a draw at the end of regulation plus stoppage time. Sunday’s Best Bet: Denmark plus-0.5 in 2-way betting.
Mexico-Brazil, 10 a.m. ET
Japan-Belgium, 2 p.m. ET
Tuley’s Take: I really want to fade what I feel is an overrated Brazil team, but I’m 0-1-1 doing that its last two games (though the 2-0 push with Costa Rica was a “bad push” as it was 0-0 heading into stoppage time). While Mexico’s 1-0 win over Germany has been one of the biggest highlights of the tournament so far and gives hope of being a team that can also upset Brazil, I’m really troubled by the 3-0 loss to Sweden when Mexico knew it needed just a push to advance and got run off the field, only to back into the knockout stage. Meanwhile, Japan backed itself into the knockout stage despite a 1-0 loss to Poland, but I trust it better, especially based on the game in which it came back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to earn a draw against Senegal. Japan will need that against Belgium, but instead of deciding between the many options of betting Japan I’m going to take the over. Monday’s Best Bet: Japan-Belgium Over 2.5 -110.
Switzerland-Sweden, 10 a.m. ET
England-Colombia, 2 p.m. ET
Tuley’s Take: Both Switzerland and Sweden earned their way to the knockout stage with what I would call gutty performances and while Sweden certainly came through in the clutch with its 3-0 win over Mexico, the win I admired most by the Swiss was the rally to beat Serbia 2-1 in their second game (though also equally impressed by Switzerland earning a 1-1 tie with Brazil in the opener. I lean to the Swiss, but I’ll mostly watch this game to evaluate the winner’s chances moving forward. In the last game of the knockout stage, I’m going for the KO with Colombia, which survived a 2-1 upset by Japan in their opener to post back-to-back shutouts of Poland and Senegal. In my mind, England is lucky to get this far as it needed a late goal to beat Tunisia 2-1 and then had an easy rout of Panama and went through the motions in a loss to Belgium. This game looks a lot closer to pick ‘em, and in fact, I’m not so sure Colombia shouldn’t be favored so I’ll take Colombia to advance at the juicy price. Best Bet: Colombia plus-160 to advance.