Raheem Sterling, England on collision course with Belgium in World Cup final
Croatia's failure to beat Russia in normal time cost us last time out but with four matches to go we are still showing a healthy profit from one of the most exciting World Cups in living memory. We have reached the semifinal stage and fancy England to get the job done against Croatia this week.
Running total: +£49.51
England are just two games away from World Cup glory and have seen their odds cut to beat Croatia on Wednesday. The Three Lions opened up as 7/5 favourites to beat Croatia in normal time but those odds have shrunk to 11/8 after a patriotic plunge by punters. It's England's biggest game for 28 years and they are certainly not without hope this week. For while Croatia looked excellent in the group stages they've needed penalties to get past Denmark and then hosts Russia in the knockout rounds. It remains to be seen how much those victories will have taken out of Croatia physically and they have a few injury concerns ahead of Wednesday's crunch semi. England were excellent against Sweden -- sparking scenes of jubilation back home -- but are likely to see far less of the ball against a technically excellent Croatia side, who like to dominate possession. However England's extra energy and threat from dead ball situations could be enough to get them over the line at the Luzhniki Stadium.
Selection: £4 on England to win at 11/8 with bet365
The First Goal Flutter
There has been a lot of talk about Raheem Sterling but he's never hidden at this World Cup, never stopped running nor stopped giving his all. OK, his finishing could have been better against Sweden but all would be forgiven if he can get among the goals against Croatia and he's a 15/2 chance to score first. His pace has petrified defences in every game that he's featured so far and Croatia are not the quickest at the back. Let's not forget that he hit 23 goals for Manchester City last season so it's not beyond the realms of possibility that he pulls it out of the bag for England when it matters most.
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The Wildcard Tip
England and Croatia have met on seven previous occasions, with the Three Lions winning four times, losing twice and sharing a draw. The odds suggest it could be a close game and since 1998 precious few World Cup semifinals have been won by more than one goal. England to win and Under 2.5 goals is a 3/1 chance and might be the way to bet.
The Bookie Basher
After both seeing off South American opposition in the last eight, Belgium and France meet for a place in the 2018 World Cup final in Saint-Petersburg. It's been a strange campaign for France, who looked subdued all through the group phase. They memorably sparked into life in that incredible last 16 win over Argentina, but were back to being solid yet unspectacular against Uruguay. Belgium were absolutely brilliant against Brazil last time out, with coach Roberto Martinez emerging from that 2-1 victory with a lot of credit after switching tactics and allowing Kevin De Bruyne more freedom in the final third. The Red Devils are also the tournament's top scorers with 14 goals so it is somewhat surprising to see Belgium chalked up at bigger than 2/1 for the win (they are 11/10 to qualify for the final). It should be an entertaining game and if De Bruyne is given licence to roam again he could help send Belgium into their first ever World Cup final. A 2-1 result for Martinez's men is a 12/1 shout with bet365 and that looks worth a punt.
Selection: £1 on Belgium to win 2-1 at 12/1 with bet365