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World Cup Final: Three bets to weigh up

Like the Super Bowl or the NBA Finals, the World Cup Final prompts an extended list of betting odds. While both France and Croatia have played tight, tense games on their way to the final, the sport’s biggest stage - and the nerves involved - makes anything possible. Here’s a look at some scenarios that jump out heading into Sunday’s showdown.

Antoine Griezmann to score and France to win

The French are understandably favourites heading into Sunday. They should be fresher and they have more game-changers in the final third. Pairing a France victory with a Griezmann goal provides more inviting odds - and the Atletico Madrid man is due to add to his World Cup tally (two penalties). Croatia have been slow starters while Déjan Lovren, in particular, seemed overly fired up at the start of the semi-final. Early bookings for Croatian defenders could be costly. As France’s penalty taker, Griezmann may get an opportunity from the spot as Lovren and Domagoj Vida try to handle Kylian Mbappé’s pace. Both centre-backs struggled against Raheem Sterling.

Both teams to score (in 90 mins)

The French attack clicked into gear against Argentina but sputtered somewhat in the narrow wins over Uruguay and Belgium. Still, they can do damage in open play and at set pieces. Meanwhile, Croatia have scored in every game at this World Cup. With Luka Modric pulling the strings and Mario Mandzukic always on the prowl, they will trouble a very good France defence. Ivan Perisic proved against England that he is another valuable goal threat.

Draw at half-time; France at full-time

A cagey start makes sense given the stakes. Risks will be kept to a minimum. Given all the minutes logged by the Croatians (120 minutes in all three knockout games), the second half may be their undoing. Modric and company have overcome the fatigue factor again and again in Russia, but France have the pace and movement to eventually break through.

(A couple of bonus thoughts for England-Belgium)

This is not the game that England and Belgium wanted to be playing in this weekend, but we should still get a decent contest. There is a chance that both teams will shuffle the pack for this game, creating some interesting options for first goalscorer. Adnan Januzaj, Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus Cheek are all watch a look. Romelu Lukaku has an outside chance of catching Harry Kane for the Golden Boot, but it remains to be seen if either will start.

History says that the 3rd/4th place game delivers goals with the pressure off. With all the attacking stars in the two squads, the smart money says we will see three or more goals.

About Tom Oldfield

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