The following are betting tips for the 2022 FIFA World Cup semi-finals: Argentina vs. Croatia and France vs. Morocco. Tournament statistics are also discussed.
Tournament Stats So far
It’s interesting to note the changes between the group stage and knockout stage. The draw frequency for the knockout stage is higher and the WW (Win/Win) HT/FT outcome has become twice as prevalent. The most common HT/FT outcome in the group stage was DW (39.6%), but this has yet to eventuate in the twelve knockout stage games thus far. You could make the argument that in the group stage countries were happy to keep their opponents at arm’s length in the first half, go into the break at 0-0, and then push for the win in the second half. Exactly 50% of the group stage games went into halftime with a 0-0 score in the group stage, compared to 16.7% in the knockout stage.
Goals have been more frequent in the knockout stage too. In the knockout stage so far only 33.3% of games have gone under 2.5 goals, compared to 60.4% in the group stage.
Draw frequency: 21%
0.5 : 87.5% over, 12.5% under
1.5 : 68.8% over, 31.3% under
2.5 : 39.6% over, 60.4% under
3.5 : 20.8% over, 79.2% under
4.5 : 18.8% over, 81.3% under
5.5 : 8.3% over, 91.7% under
6.5 : 4.2% over, 95.8% under
7.5 : 2.1% over, 97.9% under
8.5 : 0.0% over, 100.0% under
Draw frequency: 33%
0.5 : 83.3% over, 16.7% under
1.5 : 75.0% over, 25.0% under
2.5 : 66.7% over, 33.3% under
3.5 : 41.7% over, 58.3% under
4.5 : 16.7% over, 83.3% under
5.5 : 8.3% over, 91.7% under
6.5 : 8.3% over, 91.7% under
7.5 : 0.0% over, 100.0% under
Argentina vs. Croatia
6 AM AEDT on Wednesday, December 14
G1: Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia
G2: Argentina 2-0 Mexico
G3: Argentina 2-0 Poland
R16: Argentina 2-1 Australia
QF: Argentina 2-2 Netherlands (won 4-3 on penalties)
Argentina have been relatively slow starters. An early penalty against Saudi Arabia has been their only goal in the first 30 minutes of a game. Argentina have been consistent offensively, having scored 2 goals in each of their last four games.
G1: Croatia 0-0 Morocco
G2: Croatia 4-1 Canada
G3: Croatia 0-0 Belgium
R16: Croatia 1-1 Japan (won 3-1 on penalties)
QF: Croatia 1-1 Brazil (won 4-2 on penalties)
Croatia have only conceded three goals so far this tournament, however they have been held goalless twice and four of their six goals came against Canada. Their full-time draws in the Round of 16 and quarter-finals continue a trend. Eight of Croatia’s last nine knockout games at World Cups and Euro tournaments went to extra time.
Argentina are buoyed by the dream of ending Lionel Messi’s international career on a high. They won the 2021 Copa América, so the monkey is already off Messi’s back to some extent, but this would be a crowning achievement for his international career. Messi is past his peak, but he still has the quality to produce game-changing moments of magic, as we’ve already seen a number of times this tournament. Argentina have become a notoriously difficult side to beat. They have lost just one of their last 41 games and they have been backed strongly by Argentinian supporters in the stands – to the point that the fixtures feel like Argentinian home games. In team news, Argentina are without full-backs Gonzalo Montiel and Marcos Acuna, who are suspended due to accumulated yellow cards.
Croatia are once again the underdog but they deserve more respect given they saw off a dangerous Japanese and before sending Brazil home. The enormity of this occasion won’t get to this experienced squad given they reached the the 2018 World Cup final. Croatia finished top of their UEFA Nations League group in June & September this year and that group contained France, Denmark and Austria, so their place in the semi-finals is no fluke. Croatia will no doubt have taken note of the direct football that the Dutch played when they were 2-0 down against Argentina. Dutch supporters have been left wondering what could have been if they had continued with that approach in extra time. Croatia are incredibly well organised and they have a Messi of their own in Luka Modric. Write them off at your peril!
I expect a low scoring game however so do most others, as evident by the 1.55 under 2.5 odds, so I will sit that market out.
The draw holds appeal. Croatia have only lost 1 of their last 24 (regular time) games while Argentina have only lost 1 of their last 41. Croatia are the masters of grinding their way through tournaments. Four of their five games at this World Cup resulted in draws but the the most notable stat is eight of their last nine knockout games at major tournaments went into extra time. I will back the regular-time draw at 3.25 (Picklebet).
France vs. Morocco
6 AM AEDT on Thursday, December 15
G1: France 4-1 Australia
G2: France 2-1 Denmark
G3: France 0-1 Tunisia
R16: France 3-1 Poland
QF: France 2-1 England
France are the only semi-finalists that have yet to keep a clean sheet. France have conceded more goals than any other team remaining in the tournament.
G1: Morocco 0-0 Croatia
G2: Morocco 2-0 Belgium
G3: Morocco 2-1 Canada
R16: Morocco 0-0 Spain (won 3-0 on penalties)
QF: Morocco 1-0 Portugal
Morocco’s campaign has been built around their strong defence. They have kept four clean sheets in five games and no side has conceded fewer goals than Morocco (1). The only time they did concede was an own goal against Canada. It’s worth pointing out that their clean sheets came against Croatia, Belgium, Spain and Portugal. On the flip side, Morocco have scored the fewest goals (5) of any team left in the tournament and they have been held scoreless twice.
Win or lose, Morocco have already cemented themselves as national heroes after they became the first African country and first Arab country to reach a semi-final. They are well organised and difficult to score against, as evident by the fact that they have conceded just one goal in their last nine games. Their approach is to concede most of the possession and employ counter-attacks. This approach worked against Spain and Portugal but it has to be said that both of those sides squandered excellent chances. Morocco will be buoyed by the fact that Tunisia beat France 1-0 in the group stage but I expect that reaching the final will be a bridge too far for two reasons. First, injuries continue to mount and Morocco simply don’t have the same squad depth as the other major contenders. Second, France are excellent at taking their chances. Their win over England was a classic example of this. England dominated the possession and attempts on goal but still found themselves on the wrong end of the scoreline as France were more ruthless with the opportunities they had. France’s attacking talent is a cut above that of Spain and Portugal.
I will back France in the head-to-head at 1.56 (Unibet). Given that all eight regular time winners in the knockout stage also led at halftime, those who are looking fore more risk should consider France/France in the HT/FT market at 2.35 (PlayUp).