World Cup KnockOut Stages Bet Tips & Previews
Knockout Stages World Cup: Previews and Betting Tips
Morocco v Spain
When the Atlas Lions take on Spain for a chance in the quarter-final, you can expect a side full of determination, energy and most importantly, self-belief. The Moroccans are on an 8-game unbeaten run in which they have conceded just twice and kept 6 clean sheets. They followed up an impressive opening game draw against Croatia with consecutive wins over Belgium and Canada, which was enough to see them top a tricky group – the second time in their country’s history at the FIFA World Cup. Four years ago in Russia, both sides were drawn together in the group stage and Morocco twice took the lead before drawing 2-2, thanks to a very late Iago Aspas equalizer for Spain. The average Moroccan fan believes this is their chance to right their wrong from their last meeting and claim a historic quarter-final appearance for the North African side.
Head Coach Walid Regragui has been outstanding in the job so far given the unusual circumstances of his appointment. His recall of Hakim Ziyech to the national team has sparked life into the attack and reduced the workload on Achraf Hakimi who had previously been tasked with being one of the key creators in the attacking phase. Former Southampton winger, Sofiane Boufal also looks like a player reborn and alongside Sofyan Amrabat, Youssef En-Nesyri and Noussair Mazraoui, they have a core of players capable of causing just about any team some real problems.
The Spaniards will be worried about their form in this World Cup. After an exceptional 7-0 win over Costa Rica, they drew with Germany and then lost to Japan despite having the lead in both games. It might seem rather bizarre to say that Spain’s attack – which produced the joint most goals in the group stage alongside England (9) – is a worry but, it is. Obviously, they’ve found the back of the net in each of their 3 games, but in their last two games (against Germany & Japan) they seemed to recycle possession for fun but clearly ran out of ideas when they got into the opposition box. Spain completed 2,489 passes in their group-stage campaign, their most at a single tournament on record (since 1966) while their tally of 969 passes against Japan was a World Cup record for a losing team. More worryingly were the three minutes when the 2010 Champions looked set to join Germany on their way out, with Costa Rica occupying the second spot.
One of Spain’s brightest stars, Gavi was candid about that loss to Japan and how close they came to elimination; “The match against Japan has to serve as a lesson for what is to come. Luckily, that defeat has been resolved, and we are clear about what we have to do.” Against a very resilient defense, Luis Enrique’s side must be borderline flawless if they are to avoid an upset in a tournament that has already given us more than a handful of those.
Morocco: The North Africans became only the second African side to twice top their group in the World Cup, after Nigeria in 1994 & 1998. Their 7 pts in the group stage was the joint best in this World Cup, so were their 2 clean sheets in 3 games. Walid Regragui remains unbeaten since taking the Head Coach job and will be hoping to extend that run. World Cup Form: D-W-W
Spain: Their 7-game unbeaten run at the FIFA World Cup (excluding shoot-outs) was halted by Japan. Spain haven’t failed to score at least one goal since their goalless draw with Sweden in last year’s EUROs. World Cup Form: W-D-L
Morocco: With no major injuries to worry about, Walid Regragui is expected to go with his preferred starting XI. Expected Line-Up: Bono; Hakimi, Saiss, Aguerd, Mazraoui; Ounahi, Amrabat, Sahiri; Ziyech, En-Nesyri, Boufal
Spain: Against Japan, Luis Enrique handed out starts to Alejandro Balde, Pau Torres and Nico Williams. Neither of them really covered themselves in glory as they lost, and it’ll be tough to see either of them retain a starting spot. Expected Line-Up: Simon; Carvajal, Rodri, Laporte, Alba; Pedri, Busquets, Gavi; Torres, Morata, Olmo
- Bet on Both teams to score @2.18
- Bet on Spain to score first @1.46
- First Goal Method: Shot @1.40
Portugal v Switzerland
This Round of 16 matchup features two sides that are very familiar with each other. Their meeting at the Lusail Stadium will be their third in 2022 with both sides having played in the UEFA Nations League. When they first met on the 5th of June, Portugal were 4-0 victors courtesy goals from William Carvalho, Cristiano Ronaldo (2) and Joao Cancelo. When they met a week later in Switzerland, Haris Seferovic’s goal in the first minute was enough to secure a 1-0 win for the home side, despite Portugal having 58% of the possession and 20 attempts. These two European sides have met on 6 competitive occasions in the 21st Century with each team winning 3 games apiece, while the last time they met in a major tournament, Switzerland were 2-0 winners (EURO 2008). To assume this would be an easy game for the Portuguese – who have the better squad on paper – wouldn’t be wise.
While all the headlines around this Portuguese side have been focused on their biggest star, Cristiano Ronaldo, it’s Bruno Fernandes who has been the country’s most impactful player so far. The Man Utd midfielder has been at the heart of everything positive about the team, and he has notched up 2 goals and 2 assists in the 2 games he’s played in. In his absence against South Korea (with Bernardo Silva and Joao Felix also rested), the attack struggled a bit, and all three are expected to be in the starting lineup. There’s also a brewing issue about who would captain Portugal in this tie after Head Coach Fernando Santos was deeply unimpressed with Cristiano Ronaldo’s behavior as the forward left the pitch against South Korea and he refused to guarantee the 5 time Ballon d’Or winner the arm band. “I only decide who is going to be captain when I reach the stadium,” Santos said on Monday. “I still don’t know what the lineup will be. That’s what I’ve always done and that’s what I’m always going to do, and it’s going to be the same tomorrow. The other topic is solved. We have fixed that in-house and that’s it.” A potential distraction in this significant match.
Two wins from Group G is as impressive as it gets for the Swiss. They’re a country with major tournament pedigree in the early stages and alongside reigning Champions, France they’re the only European side to have made it out of the group in each of their last 5 major tournaments. Their one weakness, though, is making it past the round of 16. The Swiss have not made it to the quarter-finals of the FIFA World Cup since they hosted the tournament in 1954, but having beaten France in last year’s EUROs to reach the last 8 of that tournament, they’ll be hoping they can replicate that performance in Qatar.
They’ll be welcoming back their goalie, Yann Sommer who missed the game against Serbia due to an illness. Sommer has kept 30 clean sheets for the Swiss in 76 games, and his importance cannot be overstated. Alongside Manuel Akanji, Granit Xhaka and Breel Embolo who are having very good tournaments, they’ll be aiming to inflict some damage on Portugal.
Portugal: They’ve opened the scoring in eight of their last nine World Cup games. However, their loss to South Korea last week was the first time in 19 World Cup games they would lose after scoring first (P19 – W15, D3, L1). World Cup Form: W-W-L
Switzerland: None of Switzerland’s last 10 games has ended in a draw (W5, L5). In that period, they’ve only kept 2 clean sheets; one against Cameroon in their opening game of this World Cup and the other, against Portugal when they met in Geneva back in June. Both games ended 1-0. World Cup Form: W-L-W
Portugal: With Portugal having already qualified before their last game, they felt comfortable enough to make some changes, including giving Bruno Fernandes a rest and giving Diogo Dalot his first start, which the Manchester United full-back took advantage of as he provided an assist. Expected Line-Up: Costa; Dalot, Pepe, Dias, Cancelo; B. Silva, Neves, Carvalho; Fernandes; Felix, Ronaldo
Switzerland: First choice goalie, Yann Sommer was unavailable in their last game due to an illness and in his place, Gregor Kobel started. With the Gladbach stopper close to full recovery, it’s expected he returns to the starting line-up. Expected Line-Up: Sommer; Widmer, Akanji, Schar, Rodriguez; Freuler, Xhaka; Shaqiri, Sow, Vargas; Embolo
- Bet on a Double Chance: Portugal or Switzerland (No Draw) @1.32
- Bet on Portugal to score first @1.67
- Bet on Over 2.5 total goals @2.18
/ 10 months ago
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