2018 FIFA World Cup: Round of 16 Analysis

Wednesday 4th July, 12:00am AEST

Neither side will want an expansive game with such a great opportunity to reach the quarter-finals at stake, which for these two sides doesn’t come around very often. That could however result in a drab encounter, with neither side blessed in the attacking department, though while not great for the neutral does open up some betting potential. Both sides have seen fewer than three goals in seven of their last 10 matches each, while Sweden have seen Under 1.5 Goals in six of their last nine – and such is their miserly style that Janne Andersson’s men have been level at the break in eight of those nine games, with seven goalless. Given Switzerland are missing Stephan Lichtsteiner and Fabian Schär at the back through suspension, they certainly won’t want to push too far forward and be left exposed at the other end.

Indeed, knockout encounters between European sides at major tournaments that we rank within 10 places of each other have typically had a strong ‘unders’ trend, with 70% since 1990 witnessing fewer than three goals and 46% seeing just one strike or less. That should certainly see the second half register more goals (if there’s to be any at all over the 90 minutes), and in fact Draw/Draw was by far the most common occurring in the half-time/full-time market during this period, with 39% of games following that pattern.

Betting Strategy

  Draw/Draw HT/FT

Wednesday 4th July, 4:00am AEST

England have faced serene progress under Southgate with limited opponents in qualification and a couple of weaker sides to kick of their World Cup campaign. However, whilst not too much should be read into the defeat to Belgium with both sides making a whole raft of changes, it’s worth noting that England are tough to break as they’ve drawn with the likes of Spain, Germany, Brazil and Italy under current management.

Colombia were hampered by a third minute sending off against Japan but showed what they’re capable of against Poland, and though James Rodriguez may miss this one through injury, they’re by no means a one man team as they’ve recorded stalemates with Spain and Brazil, as well as a win over France since 2017. While the Three Lions have struggled in knockout rounds of tournaments in recent times, nine of 15 since 1990 have gone to extra time, and a draw over the 90 minutes seems highly likely.

20 of 31 knockout games between South American and European teams have had fewer than three goals since 1990, while 14 saw just one strike or less, and the draw certainly caters to a low-scoring affair. Under Pekerman, Colombia have played five knockout matches at major tournaments with four of these seeing Under 2.5 and three Under 1.5 Goals, while eight of England’s last 11 matches have now seen Under 2.5.

Betting Strategy

 Back Draw at 3.3

 Back Under 2.5 Goals at 1.53

Monday 2nd July, 12:00am AEST

After winning Group B, Spain have been rewarded with a clash with Russia, as opposed to a much trickier tie with Uruguay and they also look to be in the softer half of the draw. Russia benefited from a pretty lenient draw themselves in a group alongside Saudi Arabia and Egypt but they were found out against the Uruguayans in their last game as they went down 3-0. That was one of eight defeats that the Russians have suffered in their last 10 matches against teams that we have ranked in the world’s top 10 as they lost to the likes of Argentina, Brazil and France in friendlies ahead of the tournament.

However, they did manage to net in half of these and Spain have looked far from secure defensively so far at this tournament as they conceded five times in their clashes with Portugal and Morocco, sides more renowned for their defensive skills. Whilst the Russians may well get on the scoresheet, Spain should have too much quality for them and build on what’s a formidable away record. They’ve won 24 of their last 27 competitive away matches if we exclude teams we have ranked in the world’s top 10 and they’re unbeaten in 15 on their travels.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Spain to Win and Both Teams to Score at 4.3


Monday 2nd July, 4:00am AEST

Denmark were happy to play out a bore-draw with France, a result that was always going to send them into the knockouts, and in fact as it transpired they could have lost and gone through anyway. They may have only managed two goals in the group stages, but they also conceded just once, though their miserly style could be undone in the heat of the Russian summer with Croatia not only able to rest half their team in their final group encounter with Iceland, but also possessing better players on the ball – in particular midfield maestros Rakitic and Modric. Indeed, Denmark rely upon the set pieces of Eriksen, but without a recognizable goalscorer he is both their main creator and finisher, so they’ll be hoping for a direct free-kick flying in the top corner. Croatia, meanwhile, have plenty of ammunition from all over the field with five different scorers at this tournament already.

While we expect Croatia to come through, a thumping of any kind would represent a real shock with 64% of last 16 encounters at the World Cup since 1990 seeing fewer than three goals. In fact, the same has occurred in 10 of Croatia’s last 14 outings, as well as 10 of Denmark’s last 11, during which Age Hareide’s side have shipped just three goals. Furthermore, seven of those 11 matches saw just a single strike or none at all, while each of Denmark’s last six defeats have been by just the single goal – with half finishing 1-0.

Betting Strategy

 BACK Croatia 1-0 correct score at 5.8

Sunday 1st July, 4:00am AEST

Uruguay have put themselves in a very good position having won all their three group games, with a favourable Last 16 tie with Portugal rather than the much-feared Spanish. That said, this Portugal team managed to draw with Spain in their opener and remain unbeaten so far in the competition, while they plotted their route all the way to glory in the last Euros despite winning just once in normal time across six matches.

When looking at South American sides against European teams at this tournament in the knockout stages since 1990, they’ve won just eight of their 31 matches, so we don’t fancy Uruguay as narrow favourites. A staggering 65% of these matches have gone Under 2.5 goals., and that certainly brings the 1-1 and 0-0 stalemates into play, especially when Portugal (ranked 4th) have drawn six of their last seven matches against our top 10 ranked sides, while Uruguay (Ranked 10th) drew their last with such opposition. Moreover, at major tournaments, Uruguay have seen fewer than three goals in 14 of their last 20 matches back to the 2011 Copa America while Portugal have had ‘unders’ in eight of their last 10 since the beginning of their 2016 Euro’s campaign.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 0-0 at 7.00

 BACK – 1-1 at 6.50

Sunday 1st July, 12:00am AEST

Argentina needed a late moment of magic from Marcus Rojo to scrape 2nd spot in Group D and earn themselves a last-16 clash with France, who played out a goalless draw with Denmark in their last game, a result which was enough to send both sides safely through to the knockouts. France have been far from impressive to date but they’ve faced some very defensive-minded opponents in the group stages and with the Argentinians likely to take the game to them and press higher up the pitch this could well suit them as the likes of Dembele, Griezmann and Mbappe have the potential to be lethal on the counter.

European sides have an impressive W4-D3-L1 record against CONMEBOL opposition in Last-16 matches since the 1990 World Cup, whilst European teams higher in our rankings are unbeaten against other confederations in the same period (W10-D8). France have won six of their last 10 games against teams ranked in the world’s top 15, keeping a clean sheet in half of these, whilst Argentina have failed to score in half of their last six against teams ranked above them.


Betting Strategy

 BACK – France Win to Nil at 3.55


Tuesday 3rd July, 12:00am AEST

Mexico made their qualification very complicated having beaten Germany and South Korea in their opening two matches, before losing to Sweden in their final game and only just securing the final qualification spot. They’ve got to overcome a record of having reached this round at every World Cup since 1994 and never going any further, but it seems unlikely against the tournament favourites. El Tri have now fired a blank in four of their last seven matches and so they’ll struggle against a formidable Brazilian defence that has conceded just six goals in 24 matches since Copa 2016.

Seleção prevailed in 19 of these matches and against CONCACAF nations since 2013, they’ve won 10 of their last 11 unbeaten matches with eight of these victories accompanied by a clean sheet. Moreover, Central and North American teams have generally struggled against the South American’s at World Cups, losing seven of 10 matches since 2006, failing to score in all but one of these defeats.

Betting Strategy

 BACK Brazil Win to Nil at 2.38

Tuesday 3rd July, 4:00am AEST

Surviving the group stages represents a success for Japan in these finals after a change of coach in the buildup and more fancied opponents in their group, but they haven’t shown anything that suggests they’ll pose Belgium too much bother. Roberto Martinez’s side are excellent at taking apart the weaker sides as they showed in qualification after netting 43 times in 10 games, and Japan have conceded at least twice in five of their last seven – all coming against weaker teams than Belgium.

While the Group G winners should be expected to triumph, they won’t have it all their own way with Japan showing resolute qualities to reach half-time with the scores tied in each of their games in Russia to date. In fact, though they’ve lost each of their last five encounters with European sides, they’ve been level at the break in four of these – including a friendly with Belgium themselves – while the Red Devils have been level at the break in two of their three games so far. Japan have in fact been all square at half-time in seven of nine encounters with UEFA teams at World Cups going back to 1998, but ultimately Belgium will simply have too much quality for them.

Betting Strategy

  Draw/Belgium HT/FT at 3.65

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