WHICH two teams will seal a spot in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup final? We preview both semi-final clashes in Russia and bring you the best odds, value bets and player specials from some of the world’s best online bookmakers.
Portugal vs. Chile
Thursday, June 29, 2017 – 4am AEST – Kazan Arena, Kazan
Portugal – +150 at Bet365
Draw – +225
Chile – +220
After their opening 2-2 draw with Mexico, the Portuguese have had few problems. Cristiano Ronaldo put aside speculation over his club future to score the only goal against Russia, and he was on target again in the 4-0 rout of New Zealand. While the Real Madrid superstar was named man of the match in all three group of Portugal’s group games, the likes of Bernardo Silva, Ricardo Quaresma and Eliseu have all provided key contributions in the forward third.
Chile suffered a big scare in their third group game when James Troisi put an impressive Australia ahead late in the first half. The Socceroos outplayed their more esteemed rivals for much of the match, yet a second-half equaliser from Martin Rodriguez was enough to see the South American champs into the semis. They will want bigger performances on Thursday from the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal, neither of whom had a significant impact against the Aussies.
Player to watch: Alexis Sanchez
Arsenal’s star forward was conspicuous by his figurative absence against the Socceroos. One suspects Chile will need him to lift if they are to match a Portugal side at peak confidence after that shock win at Euro 2016. The prospect of Sanchez vs. Ronaldo at full tilt is mouthwatering. Punters can get +500 at Sportsbet for Alexis to score anytime and Chile to win in regulation time.
First goalscorer: Cristiano Ronaldo
Who else? While Portugal have better balance and more top-line talent than in years past, Ronaldo is still very much the main man in attack. He is one of only three players to have scored multiple goals at Russia 2017 to date, and it would shock nobody if he added to that tally in the semis. If you can find better than Sportsbet’s +350 odds for first goalscorer, take them.
Match tip: Portugal to win
Fernando Silva’s men look even better now than when they stunned France in the Euro 2016 final. That win seems to have given the Seleccao a sense of belief that they truly belong in the upper echelons on international football. Chile are very much their South American equivalent in that sense, but do they have the same depth of talent? Portugal to win outright and both teams to score is a juicy +425 option at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Germany vs. Mexico
Friday, June 30, 2017 – 4am AEST – Fisht Stadium, Sochi
Germany – +110 at Bet365
Draw – +260
Mexico – +275
Only the Chileans were able to give Germany a real run for their money in Group B. The reigning FIFA World Cup champions walked all over Cameroon last time out, while a 3-2 scoreline belied their overall dominance against Australia. They have found goals aplenty from the likes of Lars Stindl and Timo Werner, the latter of whom made a strong case for another starting berth with a brace against the Indomitable Lions. Joachim Loew’s squad is deep and flexible despite some notable absentees, so it will be interesting to see which XI he choses to face Mexico.
Goal ratios were all that kept the North American champions off the top of the Group A standings. They gave as good as they got against Portugal before going on to record identical 2-1 results against both NZ and Russia. Each of Mexico’s six goals this tournament has come from a different source – always a promising sign. El Tri are missing some key players, however, with Carlos Salcedo out injured and captain Andres Guardado suspended. There are also concerns over Hector Moreno and star striker Javier Hernandez, who is expected to play despite muscle fatigue.
With Guardado out, it will fall to Vela to make things happen from the flanks. The 28-year-old Real Sociedad winger is well capable of getting in behind enemy lines and finding the score sheet himself – something he has managed 17 times in 55 caps for Mexico. You could do worse than back the former Arsenal man to score Mexico’s first goal at +350 with Ladbrokes.
First goalscorer: Julian Draxler
Picking a first goalscorer from Germany’s young, talented front line is no easy feat, but we like Draxler for a number of reasons. For one, he is more experienced at international level than the likes of Stindl, Werner and Sandro Wagner. For another, he is at the head of the penalty-taking queue. Sportsbet has him at $7.50 to open the scoring.
Match tip: Germany to win
Neither of these teams will be at full strength on Friday, but one suspects the Germans can cover their losses without giving up too much. If Mexico were to lose Chicharito or Moreno in addition to Guardado and Salcedo, on the other hand, they could be in for a long night. Value options at Sportsbet include +275 for Germany to win with a clean sheet and +550 for them to win both halves.