World Cup last-16 predictions: USA can dump out Netherlands, Harry Maguire to head home for England

World Cup last-16 predictions: USA can dump out Netherlands, Harry Maguire to head home for England

The World Cup round of 16 kicks off on Saturday and our tipster Jones Knows takes to the prediction chair to dig out some juicy betting angles.

Netherlands vs USA, Saturday 3pm

Favourite backers’ heads must be spinning in this World Cup – and there could be more shocks to come in the last-16, starting with this encounter where Sky Bet make Netherlands 2/5 to qualify for the quarter-finals. That equates to about a 72 per cent chance. Not for me, Geoff.

A simplistic drawdown of the expected goals data from albeit a small sample size of three games certainly brings USA into the equation of winning this tie.

Netherlands topped Group A despite producing a negative expected goals process (-0.33) and lost both expected goals battles against Senegal and Ecuador. The sharp-shooting of Cody Gakpo is papering over some worrying cracks in their process.

Image:
Cody Gakpo of the Netherlands celebrates his goal

Meanwhile, USA have performed above expectations, showing steel and quality in midfield with the excellent Yunus Musah flanked by Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie. That trio ran the game against England and Iran.

The same should happen here and I’m fully expecting USA to roam into some promising goalscoring positions – whether they have the quality to take the chances though is a worry and a low-scoring game looks very plausible.

That steers me away from backing them to get the job done in the outright result market but one bet has got my attention in the first half shots on target market. In all three Group B matches, USA played with great energy and confidence in the opening 45 minutes. Of their total expected goals output (2.6) in this tournament, 75 per cent (1.96) has come before half time as it seems there is a clear gameplan to start fast and take the game to the opposition. That has led me to the Evens on offer from Sky Bet for USA to have two or more shots on target in the first half.

SCORE PREDICTION: 0-0 (USA to win on penalties) | BEST BET: USA to have at least two shots on target in first half (Evens with Sky Bet – Bet Here!)

Argentina vs Australia, Saturday 7pm

One of my World Cup heroes has been Aussie brute Harry Souttar, who embodied the spirit within his team with some huge performances to repel allcomers. However, this might be just one step too far.

Dealing with Martin Braithwaite is one thing, coping with Lionel Messi is another. The markets have priced this one as, arguably, the most one-sided World Cup knockout match in history with Argentina 1/5 with Sky Bet to win in 90 minutes. It’s been a wacky tournament but if Australia knock out Argentina then we can certainly tell the World Cup ‘to go home, you are drunk’.

Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal
Image:
Will Lionel Messi and Argentina be celebrating on Saturday

It’s not a great betting heat with such skinny odds on all Argentina-based bets but those looking for an angle to get with them at a respectable price may want to take the 5/6 with Sky Bet on an Argentina win and under 3.5 goals. Every one of their last 11 wins in competitive matches have fallen under the 3.5 line, including both of their wins at this World Cup. Job done and move on could be the tactic.

SCORE PREDICTION: 2-0

France vs Poland, Sunday 3pm

No matter how much my heart wants to find a sustainable and logical angle to back Poland so potentially England have a cakewalk of a quarter-final, my head just can’t sanction it. It’s a bit of a mystery how the Poles are even still in the competition.

Saudi Arabia win aside, in the other two matches they failed to score and looking at the expected goals data that wasn’t a surprise. In matches against Mexico and Argentina they created a total non-penalty expected goals tally of 0.47. Wojciech Szczesny and Robert Lewandowski will need to have games of their lives to stop a very exciting French team that lacks strength in depth but has the most dangerous first-choice attack in the competition.

With goals predicted, the French front four of Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud, Antonie Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele are all runners in the goalscorer markets. Dembele is the biggest price of all four at 9/4 to score anytime with Sky Bet and that looks a little chunky considering he’s looked ‘on it’ at this tournament. In his two starts, he’s had four shots to an expected goals return of 0.42. He can score in a France win.

SCORE PREDICTION: 2-0

England vs Senegal, Sunday 7pm

In what is likely to be a cagey encounter, set-pieces are going to play a huge part for England.

Gareth Southgate completely understands the importance of set-pieces at tournaments. I’d assume he’d be well aware of just how many goals come via this method at a World Cup during this stage. In the last 48 last-16 games, 31 goals have been scored via a set piece – that doesn’t include penalties. It’s a per-game average of 0.6, meaning there is a goal scored from a corner or free-kick situation every two games.

England are one of the most dominant sides from such scenarios, scoring 11 of their 29 non-penalty goals in major tournaments under Southgate from set-pieces. Harry Maguire has been responsible for two of those goals and England’s force of nature is taken to score a header in this one at a massive 16/1 with Sky Bet.

Maguire has seven goals in 51 caps for his country and is the target of every set-piece pumped into the England box, meaning you get a great run for your money when he pulls on the England shirt. Senegal conceded from a corner in their win over Ecuador and you can bet your life on Southgate hatching a plan with Maguire at the forefront to exploit any area of weakness in the opposition back line.

SCORE PREDICTION: 1-0 | BEST BET: Harry Maguire to score a header (16/1 with Sky Bet – Bet Here!)

Harry Maguire produced a composed display
Image:
Harry Maguire produced a composed display

Japan vs Croatia, Monday 3pm

Prediction to follow…

SCORE PREDICTION:

Brazil vs South Korea, Monday 7pm

Prediction to follow…

SCORE PREDICTION:

Morocco vs Spain, Tuesday 3pm

Prediction to follow…

SCORE PREDICTION:

Portugal vs Switzerland, Tuesday 7pm

Prediction to follow…

SCORE PREDICTION:

scroll to top