France v Belgium Both Teams to Score: Yes – 4/5
These sides have more attacking power than Ross Kemp throwing himself into his England celebration videos, so we’d expect goals in this game.
Belgium kept a clean sheet against Southgate’s reserves in their dead rubber at the end of the group stage, and the might of Panama failed to breach their defences too, but allowing two goals to both Japan and Tunisia would not instil you with confidence.
Also, Roberto Martinez is the kind of manager who is happy to attack, assuming his side will score more than their opponents, so the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann should have every chance to add to their Golden Boot tallies. Thomas Meunier’s suspension further encourages here.
France have been more solid defensively than their opponents, but how much they’ve been tested is the question. Knockout wins against Argentina and Uruguay may impress on paper, but both South American sides had issues – one team was a rabble, while the others were organised but missing Edison Cavani’s non-stop running and goal threat.
They now face a side with no such issues. Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku are the headline grabbers, but Dries Mertens was Napoli’s leading scorer in their Serie A challenge this season, Yannick Carrasco and Michy Batshuayi are also threats if needed, while United stalwart Marouane Fellaini has been known to elbow his way into goalscoring positions from time to time.
Belgium have so much attacking flair we’d expect them to score, whatever the final result. Both teams to score looks generous at 4/5.
Anytime Goalscorer: Kevin De Bruyne – 5/1
Man City’s ginger ninja narrowly missed out on the Premier League player of the year to Mo Salah, but if he can fire this Belgium team to World Cup glory, he’d have to be in the shake up for the Ballon d’Or when it rolls around.
His form in the opening stages of this tournament was not stellar, but a switch in his manager’s system saw him play further forward against Brazil, allowing him to smash home a decisive second goal against the pre-tournament favourites.
The 27-year-old has been grumbling about his place in the side for a while, and showed what a difference he can make when played where wants in the quarter final.
We think he’s worth a punt in the anytime market at 5/1 given the change, his ability from dead ball scenarios, and that the stage is set for him to show why he’s one of the best players in the world.
Correct Score: 2-2 – 13/1
We’ve already been spoiled by the games in Russia 2018, so we could understand if the Football Gods have the remaining three games play out as drab, cagey stalemates, but we hope that’s not the case, and Belgium ought to ensure this game is lively from the start.
Didier Deschamps may have his side sit deep and counter, but De Rode Duivels can pick their way through massed defences, and, should the French catch them on the break, they will have to pile forward even more.
France are 6/4 favourites for the match in 90 minutes, with the draw 21/10 and Belgium 2/1. We expect the game to be closely fought, with both teams capable of nabbing goals from every and all angles.
If you would like to go further, 3-3 in normal time is 75/1, but we like the more conservative 2-2 and an extra thirty minutes of what could be the match of the tournament.