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Daily Blog: 23/06/18 (MK +3.09)

The late show kept Brazil very much alive at the World Cup after Philippe Coutinho and Neymar goals in stoppage time helped see off Costa Rica.

The Super Eagles flew as a change of system and a mix of personnel saw them hold off Iceland 2-0 with Ahmed Musa causing the Icelandic defence all sorts of problems.

Xherdan Shaqiri gave Switzerland late joy in an entertaining 2-1 win over Serbia. It was a game that had a bit of everything. A cracking header from Aleksandar Mitrovic to open the scoring, a thunderous strike from Granit Xhaka and the VAR controversy rumbles on for not clamping down on wrestling in the area.

Today is a tough day with both games from Group F where Germany need a result.


Belgium vs Tunisia (13:00)

Belgium were lively against Panama but didn’t come good until the second half and Dries Mertens wonderful volley opened the scoring.

Two goals from Romelu Lukaku completed the victory for Roberto Martinez’s side and he’ll have been fairly pleased with how they knocked the ball around.

Tunisia gave England a tough opening with their physicality and defensive shape, so that is something that the Belgians will have to be patient with.

Despite Tunisia scoring against the Three Lions they rarely ventured forward and it was a ‘soft’ penalty that got them back on level terms at the interval.

The goal was their only shot on target, so that gives us an indication of how Tunisia will set-up once more against this all-star Belgian cast.

We saw the Africans struggle with set pieces with both England goals coming from corners and with Belgium liking to play with width then they could have some joy from balls into the box.

It would be worth a look at Lukaku to score a header in this game given how lax the Tunisian defending was at times but the downside to that is whether they’ll decide to target him with the grappling and wrestling.

I tipped Belgium on the corners handicap in their game against Panama but the bookies aren’t giving much away on this game with -4 Corners (21/20 – Bet365) being the best you can find.

However, I’m looking more towards the referee in this one. American arbiter Jair Marrufo has his first World Cup assignment and is an interesting official.

He’s taken charge of six MLS matches so far this season and has shown 21 yellows and no reds. That’s an average of 3.5 cards per game and that fits the mould of per game too.

In four of his games stateside, he’s shown four yellows (40 booking points) with one on three cautions (30 booking points) and another on two (20 booking points).

He’s a standard cards shower and doesn’t generally take any nonsense, so the Tunisian players will have to watch their step.

Against England, the Carthage Eagles escaped without any cards despite plenty of dissent, persistent and niggly fouling, which is likely to be punished here.

Belgium managed to pick up three cards in their opening game against Panama but the referee in that one was showing cards like confetti at times.

Tunisia will sit deep and make Belgium try to break them down, which you’d expect them to manage with the quality of Mertens, de Bruyne and Hazard.

With that talent running at you, it’s hard not to see Tunisia picking up a couple of cards and with a referee who is a standard 3-4 cards issuer then take advantage of the booking points markets.

The bar to go for has landed in five of the referee’s six MLS games this season and with how lenient the officiating has been then I’d expect him to let the game breath but this to still land.

25-45 Match Booking Points (6/4 – Sky Bet – 0.5pt)

I put in a #YourOdds request with William Hill for something in this game and it’s come back at 9/4 and I’ve very nearly went for it:

Over 1 Belgium Goal
Belgium Most 1st Half Corners
Tunisia Most Cards


World Cup Matches

South Korea vs Mexico (16:00)

Mexico pulled off a surprise win in their opening match against Germany and are expected to pick up three more points in Rostov.

Hiriving Lozano’s strike was enough to defeat the world champions and they defended heroically at times, so a repeat of that should put them on six points in the group.

South Korea were very poor against Sweden and went down to a penalty, rightly given by VAR.

It was their goalkeeper Hyun-Woo Cho that had kept them in it making a couple of good saves to keep them level.

That 1-0 defeat meant that South Korea are winless in four and have failed to score in their last three. The worst thing about the defeat to Sweden was that they failed to register a shot on target, so a struggle is expected here because Heung-Min Son can’t do everything himself.

Mexico to Win to Nil (6/4 – Sky Bet) has to be looked at on the back of the lack of attacking threat that South Korea hold plus that no shots on target stat.

Mexico will get chances here and I’d look towards Carlos Vela (5/2) to get on the scoresheet.

He’s scored seven in 12 for LAFC in the MLS and if he stays in that number ten role behind Javier Hernandez then he can prove a handful popping up into the pockets of space in front of the South Korean back four.

 

Germany vs Sweden (19:00)

Germany fell to defeat and they didn’t look their efficient selves against Mexico. They looked rather one-paced and one-dimensional.

The pressure is on Die Mannschaft to get the win after Sweden defeated South Korea, so they are in the driving seat heading into this game.

The Swedes are fairly resolute at the back and will sit in, similar to Mexico, which will force Germany out wide but they weren’t brilliant at crossing the ball with not many targets in the box.

Josh Kimmich looked one of Germany’s better attacking options in their first game and Sweden can’t give him too much room to manoeuvre because he’ll eventually pick the right ball.

I don’t expect the Swedes to be too adventurous here and that will allow the Germany midfield to see a lot of the ball, so one player to look at is Toni Kroos.

The Real Madrid man keeps the ball ticking over in the middle of the park and against Mexico, he had three shots on target.

Kroos 1+ Shot on Target (EVS – Sky Bet) or go one further Kroos 2+ Shot on Target (5/1 – Sky Bet) do look too good to be ignored, especially if the Swedes set-up in a defensive shape.

Given all three of his shots on target were outside of the area, then the Sky Boost of Kroos to score from outside the area (20/1) falls under consideration here too.

It’s a game where Germany will dominate the ball but may struggle to break down a stubborn Sweden backline.

The Germans did look like they were missing the direct pacey play of Leroy Sane in their opening game, so if they fail to get maximum points here will Joachim Low’s squad selection come under fire?


Royal Ascot

The fifth and final day of Royal Ascot and yesterday was a better day with Alpha Centauri putting in the performance of the week so far in bolting up in the Coronation Cup.

Sands Of Mali finished strongly but it was only enough for second in the Commonwealth Cup but 8/1 was a nice each-way price.

Here are the picks for the final day:

14:30 Chesham Stakes – Natalie’s Joy will be hard to beat if in the same form as her easy Goodwood win by the each-way value might lie with Nate The Great. He won very takingly at Carlisle and he should enjoy this step up in trip plus the stiff track should suit. The third from that Carlisle win has won since franking the form.


15:05 Hardwicke Stakes –
NO BET. It should be Crystal Ocean’s race to take after his impressive win in the Aston Park Stakes. Sir Michael Stoute has had enjoyed a successful week and this can cap it off.


15:40 Windsor Castle Stakes – Wesley Ward’s Moonlight Romance will probably try to bounce out and make all but Queen Of Bermuda is one that I like as a type. She was second on debut here to Shades of Blue, who was third in the Queen Mary on the second day and has since built on that with two bloodless wins. She looks like a scopey individual and one that should keep improving. If these go a strong pace then Kessaar could benefit after he was unlucky not win to make a winning debut at Yarmouth over six furlongs.


16:20 Diamond Jubilee Stakes –
Harry Angel will be fancied but he’s 0-4 at Ascot albeit with three seconds to his name. The Tin Man won this last year and will float along the top of the ground but Redkirk Warrior has won both stats in Group 1 company in Australia this season, including getting the better of Merchant Navy, and should relish this test.


17:00 Wokingham Stakes –
Unbeaten Dreamfield takes a large chunk out of the market and could be masquerading as a ‘group horse in a handicap’ and has to be respected but there is surely value each-way with his presence. Victory Angel should enjoy the strong pace and the ground. He’s strip fitter for his reappearance when only beaten a length when fourth at Newmarket. He could be one to look to while Ice Age could be worth chancing after his Newbury win. This five-year-old won’t mind the hustle and bustle of this big field and is versatile on the ground. With him having form over further then he should be able to see this out and possibly give the jockey/trainer another Royal Ascot winner this week.


17:35 Queen Alexandra Stakes –
Another race with a shortie with Thomas Hobson after he claimed the Ascot Stakes last year by six lengths, so his claims are clear for all to see. Hughie Morrison’s pair are interesting, including Nearly Caught who won a Group 2 in Germany before being disqualified and placed second, so could have something in hand here but Light Pillar has a very interesting profile. This son of Galileo was second at Listowel over 1m6f last time when not beaten far and the handicapper has dropped him a pound. He’s interesting upped in trip and the fact he holds entries into the Group 2 Curragh Cup and Group 1 Irish St Leger suggests connections regard him highly, so could be one to focus on at a price.

 

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