by Dave Tuley
LAS VEGAS – We’re down to soccer’s version of the Final Four with the World Cup semifinals coming up on Tuesday and Wednesday.
I lost with my two upset picks in the quarterfinals last Friday and Saturday as Uruguay and Sweden lost to France and England, respectively, while at least cashing with the Belgium-Brazil Over 2.5.
Despite losing with the two underdogs, I’m undeterred as I like both underdogs in the semifinals. You might be thinking, “That sounds good; we just have to split to show a profit,” but I’m thinking more like, “Let’s get the sweep!”
Odds are from VSiN’s host hotel at the South Point as of Sunday night.
Tuesday, July 9
France vs. Belgium
Tuley’s Take: My biggest regret of the quarterfinal round came in the Belgium-Brazil result, even though I won with the Over. That’s because I wrote in Point Spread Weekly that “I see Belgium as the more balanced ‘team’ and I’m tempted to take it at plus-155 to advance…” but instead of going with my gut instinct, I only made the Over my official best bet. Instead, I should have bet both Belgium and the Over as I truly believed Belgium could overcome Brazil’s defense and there was value in the odds to win. Now, I do believe this matchup will be lower scoring as the France defense stepped up in its shutout of Uruguay, but I’m going to pass on the Under. For one thing, Under 2.5 is -150 at the South Point, so I don’t want to lay that much juice; besides, if Belgium draws first blood, I don’t want to be cheering against it to extend the lead. Best Bet: Belgium plus-115 to advance.
Wednesday, June 10
Croatia vs. England
Tuley’s Take: Croatia is the longest shot on the board to win the World Cup (7-2 at the South Point) but I don’t see that much difference between the remaining teams, and especially in this matchup with Croatia getting such a juicy price at plus-140 to advance. As I wrote in PSW, I’ve been impressed with Croatia since it’s 3-0 rout of Argentina. A lot of people are making a big deal about Croatia having to go to extra time in its last two games while England coasted over Sweden and also was able to rest of lot of players in its meaningless third game of the group stage, but these are world-class athletes used to playing tons of games so any difference is negligible (and overadjusted if any adjustment is made at all). If I were backing England, I’d be far more concerned that nearly all their goals have come from set pieces; that gives me confidence that Croatia will be there to the very end. I think it’s also telling that most oddsmakers have this at pick ‘em instead of making England a half-goal favorite. If I was able to get Croatia plus-0.5 in 90 minutes plus injury time, I would take it, so that’s why I’m sticking with the odds to win outright. Best Bet: Croatia plus-140 to advance.