Sunday, 29 June 2014


Now, to continue what I started yesterday:

Costa Rica v Greece
Let's be honest: who expected this to be a last 16 match? While Costa Rica were never going to simply roll over as whipping boys in Group D, their progress as group winners was still a sizeable shock. Greece, meanwhile, were, well, Greece- for the most part as exciting as watching paint dry, but remorselessly effective at frustrating stronger opponents. This Greece side are actually slightly more proactive than in previous years (watch for Torosidis and Holebas venturing forward from full-back). With both sides in unchartered territory, and in with a chance of progressing even further, one has to expect both sides will favour a cautious approach, at least to begin with.
The verdict: it might take extra-time and penalties, but Greece's tournament nous might just take them to the last 8
The bet: half-time score 0-0 at 5/4 general

France v Nigeria
This game has the potential to be just about anything- a wild, end-to-end classic, a demolition job by either team, or a cagey, nervy snoozefest. France rung the changes for their final group game v Ecuador, so a) they have fresh legs to bring in to face Stephen Keshi's mobile, athletic Nigeria side, and b) don't read too much into their slightly below-par performance. Nigeria impressed in their 3-2 defeat to Argentina, only eventually being undone by 2 moments of magic from Lionel Messi. They can run France close in this one, but there's a suspicion that their outstanding goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama will have just a bit too much work to do behind a somewhat porous defence. Slightly depressingly, the usual worries over bonus payments have started up, too
The verdict: France to edge an entertaining encounter
The bet: Both teams to score at 11/10 general

Germany v Algeria
Algeria were vastly underestimated by many- they frustrated Belgium for long spells, impressively brushed aside South Korea and then did the job required of them against, it has to be said, a disappointing Russia side to progress from Group H. Germany comfortably topped their group- with their vast array of attacking options, they shouldn't struggle for goals. The call for Jogi Low for this game should be to bring in Miroslav Klose from the start- Algeria's eventual undoing against Belgium came as a result of an alarming inability to defend against crosses, and it's that glaring weakness that, even with a talented midfield, will prove their undoing here
The verdict: Germany to win a gaols-laden match
The bet: over 3.5 goals at best odds of 13/8 with Coral

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