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World Cup Final Sunday 15th July 2018
France v Croatia 16:00
Well the French have made it all the way and that has been costly for me on a personal basis and we saw a different side to them against Belgium as they played as a team unit and were tactically sound against a talented Belgium side who could not break them down. I would not be at all surprised if Deschamps plans the same here in the final especially if they take the lead. Croatia have showed unbelievable battling qualities and have now had to endure extra time in their three knockout games and many will oppose them based on tiredness. What we cannot fault is how they play as a team and have a great never say die attitude. We gave them a decent mention in our World Cup overall guide before the tournament saying that at 33s, Croatia could provide you with a decent bet and go a long way. Is this one game too far? They have never beaten the French in five attempts, the first being that fantastic semi-final in 1998 when France came from a goal down to reach the final with the most unlikely of goalscorers, a brace from full-back Lilian Thuram. The most recent meeting was a goalless draw in 2011 in a friendly in Paris where a few of the players lining up here, played.
As in matches before, only really recent meetings today have any relevance, particularly in a final and this game will revolve around how the French play. Croatia are certainly well capable of beating them and this is a difficult dilemma for me. I am still convinced that the French have a “shocker” in them and with the pressure of being favourites, it could be this one. However, I have been in this game for many years now and know that sometimes what you think and what you actually see are very different. Personally, I could still Lay France but as I had a small each way on Croatia at the start of the tournament, I don’t need to. Against my own hopes and thoughts, I must suggest a bet on France to win this game and I think they will do it in 90 minutes. Their ability to run and run may see Croatia pay for the three extra periods they have had to endure and if they get in front, Croatia will find it difficult to come back.
At around 10/11 (1.91) with most bookmakers, I wouldn’t put anyone off but I’m going to suggest 2-0 and 3-0 for France at 7/1 and 16/1 as a way to trade the game. If France do lead then it is likely, depending on the time left to play, that 2-0 will become favourites as Croatia chase the game and leave themselves vulnerable to the French pace. Let’s hope that now that I have gone with the French, that they don’t prove my pre-tournament thoughts right and throw in a stinker!
The Stats That Matter……………………………
Croatia v France (2018 World Cup Final)
- Met 5 times before, Croatia 0, Draw 2, France 3
- Last played (2011), France 0-0 Croatia
- FIFA World Rankings, Croatia 20, France 7
- The last 2 head-to-heads ended in draws
- Both teams ‘DIDN’T’ score in 3 of the last 4 head-to-heads
- France have NEVER lost to Croatia
- 3 of the last 5 head-to-heads went OVER 2.5 GOALS
- France have kept a clean-sheet in 3 of the last 4 head-to-heads
- France have lost just one of their last 18 games
- Both teams have scored in 7 of France’s last 12 games
- 6 of France’s last 12 games went OVER 2.5 GOALS
- Olivier Giroud is France’s current top scorer (31 goals)
- Croatia have lost just 1 of their last 9 games
- 4 of Croatia’s last 7 games went UNDER 2.5 GOALS
- Croatia have scored at least 2 goals in 5 of their last 7 games
- Mandzukic is Croatia’s current top scorer (32 goals)
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