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Brazil is Favored in a Sensual Quarterfinal Matchup with Belgium

This has to be one of the most anticipated matches – if not THE most – of the quarterfinals at the 2018 World Cup. Star power is at a premium for Brazil and Belgium and both teams play as creative a brand of football as one could hope for. With good value all over the board, the decision on what to bet hinges on whether you think the best offense in the tournament can crack one of the best defenses.

Bovada currently has Brazil as the favorite in moneyline markets at +110 with Belgium coming back at +265 and the draw at +235. Totals look like this: the OVER 2.5 is priced at EVEN and the UNDER at -120.

SHARK BITES
  • Belgium has scored the most goals at the 2018 World Cup with 12.
  • Brazil is tied for the fewest number of goals conceded at the World Cup with 1.
  • Seven of Brazil’s last 8 matches have seen UN 2.5 goals while 7 of Belgium’s last 8 have seen OV 2.5 goals.

BELGIAN BAGMEN

Belgium has put up a staggering 12 goals from seven players through four games at the World Cup. Sure, eight of them came against two poor sides, but three of them came after going down 2-0 and that speaks volumes.

The Red Devils comeback against Japan was our only true look at what this squad brings to the table. After destroying two of the worst outfits at the tournament and then presenting a rotated side to the English, their starting XI hadn’t seen any real adversity.

The Japanese exposed some unexpected issues with a generally solid back line. Jan Vertonghen, in particular, looked a mess at times and it was very nearly his team’s undoing. It can certainly be argued that the midfield in front of him had its part in it, but once adjusted we saw what the Belgians can produce.

The tactical decision by Roberto Martinez looked foolish at a glance. Taking Dries Mertens off the field? Is this man insane? Well, that decision proved genius as both subs scored, and Nacer Chadli of all people found the game-winner at the death. More importantly, that move allowed Kevin De Bruyne to play in his more natural attacking position.

Success against this Brazilian back line will hinge on De Bruyne’s ability to shine on the attack.

D IS THE KEY

As the tournament progresses, good defending has proven as critical as good offense. The top four squads in terms of goals against – Brazil (1), Uruguay (1), Croatia (2) and Sweden (2) – are all in the quarterfinals. Iran and Denmark wouldn’t have had the showings they did without sturdy defending either.

Thiago Silva, Marquinhos and Miranda have been stellar to this point. They haven’t quite seen the likes of KDB, Hazard and Lukaku but this trio of centerbacks combined with the excellence between the pipes that Alisson brings will be by far the toughest the Belgians have had to break down thus far.

Casemiro will sit due to suspension and on any other team that would be a huge problem. Fortunately for Brazil, they have a superstar who can come off the bench in just about any position. Fernandinho plays the deep-lying mid role as well as anyone and the Man City man’s familiarity with Belgium’s predominantly Premier League attack may be preferred.

The only hole I see at the back is Fagner. He’s a third choice for Selacao at right back, still quality for a third choice but he struggled against Mexico and the Belgians will certainly have a mind to take a run at him when possible.

Favorite Play

This should be a battle for the ages but I’m fearful the Belgians, as good as they are, may be out of their league here. This may prove to be one of the best Brazilian sides of all time. They seem to have it all. On top of that, they seem very adaptable. Tite has his men running like a well-oiled machine and when necessary the well is so deep on the bench that he has the option to go star-for-star at will.

Brazil to qualify at -170 is probably your safest bet here, and that value is great. Firmino to score anytime at +220 and a draw after 90 minutes at +235 are also very tempting for me.

Bet on the 2018 World Cup here

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