Oddsmakers believe that whoever emerges from Tuesday’s semifinal between France and Belgium has the inside track on winning the World Cup.
Both sides have shown why as they prepare to face off at St. Petersburg Stadium. The French are slight favourites in this one despite looking ho-hum in a 2-0 victory over undermanned Uruguay. Belgium knocked off Brazil 2-1 in its quarterfinal match and has looked sensational since being on the brink of elimination.
World Cup 2018: France vs. Belgium Odds and Betting Analysis
World Cup Moneyline: Belgium +213
Date: Tuesday, July 10, 2 p.m. ET
St. Petersburg Stadium, St. Petersburg, Russia
France is installed at +131 to prevail in 90 minutes, and -131 to qualify; both numbers make Les Bleus a tempting play when you consider that they have yet to lose a match in Russia despite looking like they haven’t quite reached top gear. Aside from an unexpected defensive meltdown against Argentina, France has been a superior squad at the back end, allowing just one goal in its other four games while finishing with better possession numbers in three of them.
After rallying from two goals down in the second half against Japan, Belgium left nothing to chance against the five-time World Cup champions from Brazil, scoring twice in the opening half and hanging on from there. But the Belgians are probably fortunate to be installed at -108 to qualify after losing star right back Thomas Meunier to two yellow cards and a subsequent one-game suspension; his absence weakens Belgium’s right side considerably.
Didier Deschamps likely won’t change much from the unit that dispatched Uruguay, though the return of Blaise Matuidi from suspension could result in a minor switch-up, with Corentin Tolisso likely the odd man out. Both Antoine Griezmann (+168) and Kylian Mbappe (+187) are good bets to convert against the Belgians – and if you can correctly choose which one will open the scoring (Griezmann is at +501, while Mbappe is at (+574), you’ll be in great shape.
The Belgians did well to contain Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and the rest of the Brazilian attack, but were fortunate to escape with a win after allowing 27 shots in total – and nine on target. Truly, the Belgians’ wide-open style has resulted in plenty of scoring chances on either side of the pitch; that bodes well for all-world standout Romelu Lukaku, who is a team-best +172 to hit the scoresheet for Belgium and is a decent speculative play at +516 to open the scoring.
France vs. Belgium Prediction
France 2, Belgium 1
This should be a wildly entertaining game between two tactically sound teams – but France was the superior side even without Meunier’s suspension, and should be able to attack the Belgians’ weakened back end with success.