Football / Preview / World Cup Day Seven

World Cup: Thursday 17th June

The second round of fixtures in Groups A and B conclude on Thursday with Argentina hoping to cement qualification to the knockout stages.

Argentina's Lionel Messi




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Argentina (Bettorlogic rank 10) v Korea Republic (38) (Thurs, 12:30)

Both of these sides won their opening fixtures but, surprisingly, it is Korea Republic who top the group on goal difference. Argentina, meanwhile, only managed to score one goal against Nigeria, largely thanks to an inspired man-of-the-match performance from the Super Eagles’ goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama. Coach Diego Maradona opted with a 4-2-4 formation which he is likely to replicate in this fixture and despite the ever-present Juan Sebastian Veron and Javier Mascherano in the middle they look vulnerable at the back. Argentina have won 10/18 finals group stage matches when they have won their last game with seven W/Ws and nine +2.5 goals games. Furthermore, they have an almost perfect record in finals against teams with a Bettorlogic rank of 31-50 with 12 successes from 14 fixtures of which nine have seen at least three goals and six four or more.

Cameroon (1990) are the only team ranked 31-50 to have won their opening two World Cup games since 1970 while each of the seven similarly ranked sides that have won their opener have conceded in their next match. Interestingly, Korea Republic have now won their opening fixture in all of the last three World Cups – they drew their second game 1-1 in 2002 and 2006 with USA and France respectively. This will be the 11th occasion that Korea Republic have faced top-10 ranked opposition in the World Cup and six of their previous 10 have seen at least four scores.

Argentina can be expected to create numerous chances as they did in their opener, but with their shaky back-line they can conceivably concede at any time. While the 2.00 available on +2.5 goals is tempting, we prefer the standout 3.75 on offer for four or more goals with VC.

Recommendation: +3.5 goals 3.75, VC


Greece (27) v Nigeria (40) (Thurs, 15:00)

Both Greece and Nigeria suffered defeats in the opening games in group B, but they will also know a victory here would give them a strong chance of qualification. Nigeria are in the best position to benefit as they face Korea Republic in their final game while Greece will feel they must win to have any chance to progress, although conceivably Argentina may field a weakened team against them if they win the lunchtime fixture comfortably. Teams ranked 21-30 have lost just 2/33 finals group stage matches since Spain 1982 and, moreover, they have won on 17 occasions with 19 clean sheets. Further, the higher ranked side have gone W3-D1-L0 when both teams have lost their last match.

Nigeria have a dreadful group stage finals record after losing their previous match with eight losses and no wins from 11 tries. Worse still, seven of the losses were to nil and they were also beaten 1-0 in both of their games facing higher-ranked opposition. African teams generally have a poor record against European sides with just 12 wins from 61 games since 1970, although it does improve to W6-D5-L6 when the opposition is ranked outside the top-15 in the world.

We can’t see much justification for Nigeria being such short favourites for this game, and, while Greece’s defeat to Korea Republic is worrying, the 8.00 available at Coral for a win is too large to resist a small wager if the standout price remains.

Recommendation: Lay Nigeria to Win 1.98, Betfair
                                   0.5 pt: Greece to Win to Nil 8.00, Coral


France (8) v Mexico (11) (Thurs, 19:30)

There's all to play for in Group A after both opening fixtures were tied 1-1. 12 of the last 16 second group stage matches between two sides that have drawn their first game have also ended all-square (six 0-0s and six 1-1s). France have won just two of their last nine second group stage matches, although they have drawn six of the games (two 0-0s and three 1-1s). Further, 12 of the 28 (43%) World Cup group stage matches between teams ranked fewer than five places apart have been tied (11 0-0s and four 1-1s). It should be noted, however, that France have an admirable record in finals of W4-D4-L1 against teams ranked 6-16 since Euro 1996, ignoring tournaments when they were the hosts.

Mexico have a good general group stage finals record of W16-D14-L7 since 1986, but more impressively, they have lost just three of 15 such games against higher ranked opposition with six wins and six draws – five of which ended 0-0 or 1-1.

Both teams have good finals records, hence their high world rankings for most part, and both have everything to play for. The one worry is that Mexico will feel they have to win this game, having failed to beat the lowly-ranked hosts South Africa in their opener, and open up more but the counter-argument would be that a draw here and a win over Uruguay in their closing match would guarantee them at least a joint-top spot in Group A. Likewise, a draw would suit France if, as one expects, they can triumph over South Africa next Tuesday.

Recommendation: Split Stakes: Correct Score 0-0 8.40, Betfair
                                                           Correct Score 1-1 7.00, Betfair


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