World Cup Odds: Ronaldo Benched, Portugal Romps to Quarterfinals
If it wasn’t controversial enough to sub off Cristiano Ronaldo in the 65th minute of a 2-1 World Cup group stage loss to South Korea, Portugal manager Fernando Santos then went and criticized his captain in the media.
“I didn’t like it,” Santos said via a translator about Ronaldo’s reaction to being subbed off. “Not at all. I really didn’t like it.”
Santos made waves again on Tuesday when he benched Ronaldo for Portugal’s Round of 16 matchup with Switzerland. But the controversial move paid off, with Portugal topping Switzerland 6-1 to advance to the World Cup quarterfinals.
Ronaldo’s replacement, Goncalo Ramos, solidified Santos’ lineup decision to replace Ronaldo in the starting XI with an electrifying hat trick. Just 17 minutes into the match. Ramos turned and fired one of the most impressive goals of the tournament to give Portugal a 1-0 lead. Ramos later scored early in the start of the second half for his second goal and a 3-0 advantage. He later completed the hat trick with a chip to make it 5-1.
Ronaldo did come on as a sub in the 73rd minute in the second half.
Portugal will now face Morocco. The Moroccans upset Spain in penalties following a 0-0 draw, becoming the first African country to win a World Cup match in a penalty shootout.
Brazil Favored To Win Cup
Brazil entered as the pre-tournament favorite and the latest 4-1 domination over South Korea in the Round of 16 did nothing to deter that. The Brazilians are +170 in the futures betting to win their sixth World Cup and appear to be getting healthier after injuries were a concern during the group stages.
Neymar missed matches against Switzerland and Cameroon with an ankle injury but managed to return versus South Korea. He showed no signs of being hindered by the injury, assisting on Brazil's first goal in the seventh minute and scoring a penalty in the 13th. For his efforts, Neymar was named the man of the match.
“First of all, I would like to say thank God for the strength I have to be back on the pitch, to be able to train and to do everything I needed to do to be on the pitch again,” Neymar said. “S,o thanks to the therapists and all the colleagues that encouraged me in the past few days … I did not feel any pain in my ankle. I think my performance went very well, and I’m very content. I think we can always improve, and that’s what I always try to do.”
Brazil will take on Croatia in the quarters, and FanDuel has Brazil at -700 to advance to the semifinals. Croatia is +480 to move on.
France Slight Favorites in Showdown with England
The marquee matchup of the quarters features defending champion France and England. Both teams dominated their way to the quarters.
England is coming off a 3-0 win over Senegal and has outscored its opponents 12-2 in four matches, with its worst result being a draw with the United States in the group stage.
France is coming off a 3-1 victory against Poland and has been formidable again. The only blemish was a 1-0 loss to Tunisia in the final group match where France had already qualified for the knockout stage by that point and sat key parts of its starting XI.
France’s Kylian Mbappe is currently the golden boot leader with five goals. He now has nine career goals in the World Cup, eclipsing Pele and Maradona for the most World Cup goals scored before the age of 24.
Of the four quarterfinals, this one is the closest on the odds board. France is -126 to advance on FanDuel, while England is -102.
At DraftKings, Argentina is favored at -160 to advance past the Netherlands (+135). Lionel Messi is currently second in the golden boot race with three goals.
France (+400), Argentina (+4500) and England (+600) are the other favorites to win the World Cup behind Brazil.
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