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World Cup bracket starts to firm up -- without Germany

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

Defending world champion Germany is OUT! Mexico backs into the brackets despite a blowout loss. Numbers, notes, and another Under in a Yankees game. Sports coverage exclusively for bettors continues right now in VSiN City.

World Cup Soccer: The first BIG elimination as Germany can’t score laying almost two goals to South Korea 
What had been a simple scenario…Mexico needed only a tie against Sweden to win Group F…Germany might sneak in with a tie and was safe with a win as a huge favorite…turned shockingly complicated in the second halves of side-by-side finales.

Mexico fell behind Sweden 2-0 (probably toast)
German was deadlocked at 0-0 (still time to score)
Mexico allowed another goal, down 3-0
South Korea scored! Oh my god! (Achtung baby!)
South Korea scored again! Are you kidding?! 

Just like that…Germany was OUT of the tournament with only one win and three points (from an unimpressive win over Sweden). Mexico had been in mourning…suddenly El Tri was in as the runner-up, destined to meet Brazil in a game most had anticipated back when the draw was announced. And Sweden had rallied from the heartbreaker against Germany to win the group AND go to the softer half of the knockout bracket.

South Korea 2, Germany 0
Total Shots: South Korea 11, Germany 26
Shots on Goal: South Korea 5, Germany 6
Corner Kicks: South Korea 3, Germany 9
Possession Pct: South Korea 30%, Germany 70%
Estimated Goals: South Korea 1.6, Germany 1.8

Korea was plus 1500 on the three-way, around plus 800 on offshore money lines (where ties are refunded), and didn’t look like it had a chance in the world to get a goal much of the day. Germany exhausted itself launching 26 shots a net, desperate for the goal that would salvage a lackluster group performance. That let Korea sneak in the go-ahead goal very late, then lock in the upset with an empty-netter after the German goaltender had moved forward to help in the attack. 

Though time of possession and raw shot count look huge. Shots on goal were just 6-5. Germany was launching a lot of prayers from distance. Expected goals as calculated by Michael Caley and posted on twitter @Caley_graphics ended up close. Frankly, outside of the sizzling game winner vs. Sweden, Germany never looked like championship material the whole tournament despite entering as virtual co-favorites with Brazil. 

Sweden 3, Mexico 0
Total Shots: Mexico 19, Sweden 13
Shots on Goal: Mexico 3, Sweden 5
Corner Kicks: Mexico 7, Sweden 3
Possession Pct: Mexico 65%, Sweden 35%
Estimated Goals: Mexico 1.1, Sweden 1.6

We talked previously about how Mexico’s “bend but don’t break” approach was a bit fragile in this spot. You can only bend for so long, particularly with a defense that’s prone to occasional mental lapses. If Sweden had come in disheartened, that wouldn’t have mattered. Sweden showed up ready to win! The stats don’t quite express that because Mexico did have to force the action after falling behind. You can see Sweden won shots on goal 5-3 despite taking fewer shots and only having the ball a third of the time. 

Clean win for the underdog. Two spoilers will represent Group F. Sweden will face Switzerland in a battle of potential Cinderellas. Mexico will have nothing to lose vs. Brazil. 

Brazil 2, Serbia 0
Total Shots: Serbia 10, Brazil 13
Shots on Goal: Serbia 1, Brazil 6
Corner Kicks: Serbia 5, Brazil 9
Possession Pct: Serbia 44%, Brazil 56%
Estimated Goals: Serbia 0.7, Brazil 1.6

Pretty decisive considering how complacent Brazil could have been. No need to comment. Let’s look at Brazil’s key stats through three games…which had been more dominant than its scores prior to today.

Shots on Goal plus Corner Kicks
Brazil 11, Switzerland 4
Brazil 19, Costa Rica 1
Brazil 15, Serbia 6

Important to see defense in those blowout stats. As impressive as 45-11 is, that 11 as a three-game sum is very special. Opponents have found it difficult to create great opportunities so far. Defense wins championships! Brazil is now as low as 3-1 in futures prices to lift the cup despite playing in the tougher half of the brackets. Sharps respect defense. 

Switzerland 2, Costa Rica 2
Total Shots: Switzerland 12, Costa Rica 14
Shots on Goal: Switzerland 3, Costa Rica 6
Corner Kicks: Switzerland 6, Costa Rica 5
Possession Pct: Switzerland 60%, Costa Rica 40%
Estimated Goals: Switzerland 1.3, Costa Rica 0.6

A day at the park rather than an intense battle with meaning. Finishing second in this group is a gift the way the brackets worked out. We’ll get to that in a moment. First, odds for Thursday’s group stage finales.

*Japan -0.1 goals over Poland
Three-way: Japan plus 150, Poland plus 190, draw plus 220
Money line: Japan -118, Poland plus 108
Goal line: Japan -0.25 goals (Poland -139, Japan plus 124)

*Colombia -0.6 goals over Senegal
Three-way: Colombia -125, Senegal plus 350, draw plus 255
Money line: Colombia -278, Senegal plus 237
Goal line: Colombia -1 goal (Senegal -189, Colombia plus 171)

*England -0.1 goals over Belgium
Three-way: England plus 150, Belgium plus 215, draw plus 200
Money line: England -127, Belgium plus 117
Goal line: England -0.25 goals (Belgium -132, England plus 122)

*Tunisia -0.6 goals over Panama
Three-way: Tunisia -125, Panama plus 350, draw plus 265
Money line: Tunisia -270, Panama plus 231
Goal line: Tunisia -1 goal (Panama -179, Tunisia plus 160)

Before the tournament began, Poland was about a half-goal favorite over Japan. Perceptions have changed, and this is a must-win for Japan against a lame duck Poland team that’s only playing for pride. Colombia’s getting increased betting respect, possibly because everyone saw that James Rodriguez can create opportunities with great passing even if he can’t run well. 

Estimated “market” Power Ratings on a goal supremacy scale for groups G and H... 

Group G: England 2.4, Belgium 2.3, Tunisia 1.0, Panama 0.4
Group H: Columbia 2.1, Japan 1.5, Senegal 1.5, Poland 1.4

You can pencil those into the brackets below if you’re trying to visualize potential pathways for particular teams.  

*Note that Brazil is laying a whopping 1.1 goals vs. Mexico in the knockouts, as that dog takes a market hit after the loss to Sweden. We’re now showing Brazil 2.7, Mexico 1.6, which is exactly where we had them pre-tournament. Mexico had scooted up with two early wins, while Brazil had dipped after not obliterating Switzerland and Costa Rica on the scoreboard. Westgate has the three-way Brazil -210, Mexico plus 600, draw plus 330 (if a knockout game goes “overtime,” the draw is a winner and both three-way team side bets lose). That’s not far off from the numbers for Germany/Mexico back in the group opener…when Germany was perceived as a co-favorite.

*Switzerland opened at -0.1 goals in a virtual pick-em with Sweden. Westgate has that Switzerland plus 160, Sweden plus 200, draw plus 200. 

Top Quarter
1A Uruguay (2.0) vs. 2B Portugal (2.0)
1C France (2.5) vs. 2D Argentina (2.3)

Second Quarter
1E Brazil (2.7) vs. 2F Mexico (1.6)
1G (Belgium or England) vs. 2H (Japan, Colombia, or Senegal)

Third Quarter
1B Spain (2.5) vs. 2A Russia (1.8) 
1D Croatia (2.3) vs. 2C Denmark (1.7)

Bottom Quarter
1F Sweden (1.6) vs. 2E Switzerland (1.7)
1H (Colombia, Senegal, or Japan) vs. 2G (England or Belgium)

We’ve talked often here in VSiN City about how rolling over money line bets through a tournament is usually more rewarding than betting futures. We’re seeing a lot of 3/1 prices out there for Brazil right now. Played around with projected money lines if Brazil had to face the toughest team possible in each round based on the bracketing. Rollover strategy came out to about 3.5 to 1. So, 3/1 is actually a pretty fair price all things considered. If there are upsets in front of Brazil, the return would get even worse. 

Did the same thing for Mexico on a lark. Mexico would be big dogs the whole way through. Parlay calculator showed 276/1. Doubt you’ll see any prices like that out there. We’ll do our best to calculate “toughest pathway” rolling parlay returns for all 16 teams for you in Friday’s report, in advance of the Sweet 16 that starts Saturday. 

Don’t forget to watch “Russia 2018: The Tournament Show” Thursday afternoon on VSiN. It’s the only World Cup broadcast covering the big event from a sports betting perspective.

MLB: Phils use that Eflin magic to salvage a win from the Yankees. NYY games now 20 Unders in the last 22
Hope you’re not betting the due theory. Another Under in a game involving the New York Yankees (now 20 of 22 on the heels of that recent run of 14 straight). Though, this wasn’t a straight up victory, as the engine on the pinstripe steamroller never got started. 

Philadelphia (plus 110) 3, New York Yankees 0 
Total Bases Plus Walks: New York 6, Philadelphia 15
Starting Pitchers: Cessa 3 IP, 3 ER, Eflin 7 IP, 0 ER
Bullpen: New York 5 IP, 0 ER, Philadelphia 2 IP, 0 ER

Great night for Zack Eflin. The Yankees could only manage four singles and two drawn walks off him. Eflin lowered his ERA to 3.02, and his WHIP to 1.13. He’s made 10 starts this season. Phils are 7-3 in those outings, winning Eflin’s last five. 

Luis Cessa made his first start of the season for NYY. Allowed a home run, five hits, and two walks in those three innings. You got the feeling that the Yankees wanted an extra day off before facing Boston Friday. Yanks off Thursday…Sox will be finishing their series with the LA Angels.  

Boston (-150) 9, Los Angeles Angels 6
Total Bases Plus Walks: Los Angeles 23, Boston 28
Starting Pitchers: Heaney 3.1 IP, 6 ER, Porcello 5.2 IP, 4 ER
Bullpen: Los Angeles 4.2 IP, 3 ER, Boston 3.1 IP, 1 ER

Angels rallied from 6-0 down in the bottom of the second inning to tie the game at six in the top of the seventh. Bullpen couldn’t keep the Sox off the board when it mattered most. Injury-riddled Angels fall to 41-40, and are losing touch with the Wildcard race (now nine games behind Seattle). That’s five straight losses, and a 4-12 record the last 16 games. Boston is 54-27, which is exactly winning two-thirds of the time and losing one-third of the time. 

Also in the American League Wednesday…
*Seattle (pick-em) beat Baltimore 8-7 in 11 innings. Seattle is 35-13 its last 48 when not facing Houston, Boston, or the New York Yankees. 

In National League early finishers of note…
*Cincinnati (even) beat Atlanta 6-5. That’s now nine wins in the last 10 games for the Reds. Cincinnati is 26-19 its last 45 games since starting the season 8-27. Are you pricing them properly in your handicapping?

*Arizona (-160) won at Florida 2-1. Diamondbacks are 14-6 their last 20, and 11-2 their last 13 on the road. Arizona up to 12 games over .500 at 46-34. On pace for 93 wins.

In Interleague play…
*Cleveland (even) won at St. Louis 5-1. That avoids a sweep for the Indians, who are still comfortably in control of the AL Central at 44-35. Just in…Bieber remains undefeated for Cleveland, as Shane’s ERA drops to 2.22. Indians have won all four of his starts. St. Louis falls to 42-37 to hang round the NL Central hunt.

*Milwaukee (-200) lost to Kansas City 5-4. That made it easier for St. Louis to hang around! Brewers fall to 46-33. 

WNBA: Las Vegas Aces struggling to find consistency 
As talented as rookie A’ja Wilson is, it’s very tough for somebody that inexperienced to carry a pro team on her shoulders. Las Vegas disappointed in a home tester Wednesday night vs. Dallas. We talked last night about New York’s surprising demise. Recent enthusiasm for the Aces may have been more about catching the Liberty twice at the right time. Las Vegas now 3-11 this season when not playing New York. 

Dallas (-1.5) 97, Las Vegas 91 
Two-Point Pct: Dallas 52%, Las Vegas 43%
Three-Pointers: Dallas 10/28, Las Vegas 4/7
Free Throws: Dallas 23/30, Las Vegas 25/27
Rebounding: Dallas 31, Las Vegas 36
Turnovers: Dallas 11, Las Vegas 13

Wilson scored 22 points, but on 19 shots from the field. Kayla McBride had a huge scoring effort, with 38 points on 22 shots in a losing cause. A lack of three-point shooting still an issue for Bill Laimbeer’s team. Vegas netted a nice percentage, but four makes won’t be enough in this league very often. Dallas won scoring on treys by 18 points in a game it only won by six. Wings move to 7-7 on the season. 

Also in the WNBA Wednesday: Chicago (-2) beat Atlanta 92-80, and Connecticut (-11) beat Indiana 101-89. 

Our latest look at estimated “market” Power Ratings…

85: Minnesota, Los Angeles
83: Phoenix, Washington
82: Connecticut
81: Seattle
80: Dallas
78: Atlanta
77: New York
75: Las Vegas
74: Indiana, Chicago

Enjoy Thursday’s soccer. See you Friday in VSiN City!

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