The 5 biggest moves ahead of those final World Cup group games
You may recall that we published a cheatsheet which included goal projections for all 48 group games at the 2018 World Cup finals based on how the bookmakers expected the various match-ups to unfold. Well, things certainly haven’t gone to plan for a number of the nations involved in a World Cup that has been dominated by set pieces and penalties so we’ve pinpointed the five ‘Round 3’ matches that have seen the most significant moves from those original positions.
Japan vs Poland – Projected Goals 1.33 / 1.15 (from 0.97 / 1.57)
Poland have crashed out of the World Cup after two abysmal performances, so Japan have a great chance to book their place in the ‘Round of 16’. The Asian side are now favourites for this one with the odds swinging massively in their favour by an incredible 0.78 goals from the pre-tournament lines.
Fantasy managers should take note of the attack-minded Takashi Inui, who has arguably been the pick of the budget midfielders on show in Russia, while Shinji Kagawa continues to pull the strings in midfield and has that added benefit of spot-kick duties in his locker.
Iran vs Portugal – Projected Goals 0.68 / 1.57 (from 0.56 / 1.95)
Iran came into the tournament with a reputation for resolute defending and that assumption has certainly been justified. They may have been fortunate to see off Morocco courtesy of a stoppage time own goal in their opening group game but they can count themselves a shade unfortunate not to have picked up anything against Spain in their subsequent group game.
Diego Costa scored the only goal of the game in bizarre fashion as the Iranians were guilty of missing a couple of guilt-edged chances.
If they are to book their place in the knockout stages of the competition, Portugal are once again likely to rely on the brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo but this encounter has seen a 0.5 goal swing against the European Champions since those original lines were published.
We can expect Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand to be in for a busy evening so it will be fascinating to see if Portugal and Ronaldo, in particular, can find a way past him.
Panama vs Tunisia – Projected Goals 1.02 / 1.77 (from 1.06 /1 .34)
Both of these sides have already been eliminated but you cannot fault the passion shown by the Central American side on and off the pitch.
However, they have already shipped 9 goals at the tournament, accumulating more yellow cards (8) than any other side in the process and it’s this naivety that makes their North African opponents an intriguing prospect here.
After chipping in with a goal and an assist in the 5-2 defeat to Belgium, Tunisia captain Wahbi Khazri. a familiar name for Fantasy Premier League fans from his time at Sunderland, could be the pick of the bunch and it will be fascinating to see how Panama defend set pieces following their penalty area shenanigans against England.
South Korea vs Germany – Projected Goals 0.59 /2.74 (from 0.66 / 2.39)
Germany left it late to see off Sweden to keep their hopes of retaining their world title alive and they now face a South Korea that can still mathematically qualify if things go their way despite two defeats.
None of Germany’s big guns have yet to fire but Toni Kroos last gasp winner against the Swedes was just reward for his perseverance.
It was his 10th attempt on goal in Germany’s 2 games, earning him a WhoScored rating of 8.84 in the process.
Denmark vs France – Projected Goals 0.8 /1.21 (from 0.8 /1 .69)
Denmark need to pick up 1 point against France to ensure that they progress to the next round of the competition and it’s a result that would also see Les Bleus topping Group C.
Didier Deschamps is likely to rotate his pack a bit in this one making fantasy team selection somewhat troublesome.
We need to go back to 1954 to find the last time when the World Cup failed to register a single 0-0 scoreline so if one game is likely to break that sequence at the current World Cup it could well be this France versus Denmark clash.
Kasper Schmeichel, who has already faced 2 penalties, will be tasked with keeping a second string French outfit at bay as Group C reaches its conclusion.