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Sixty-two of World Cup 2022 comes to an end on Friday, as the six sides in Groups G and H play out their final matches.
Brazil and Portugal are already through to the round of 16, but there are two places in the knockout phase still up for grabs.
The odds for this weekend have been supplied by the DraftKings Sportsbook, where up to $1250 in free bets are available.
At four of the last five World Cups, the third-place play-off has featured more goals than the final. That is largely because there is much less pressure involved and at least one of the two competitors usually throws caution to the wind in a bid to end their campaign on a high.
This time around, however, the pattern might be broken. Croatia and Morocco have both put an awful lot into this competition, both mentally and physically. The latter have lost several key players to injury, while the former may opt to rest aging starters like Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic and Dejan Lovren.
Of the 11 matches these two teams have contested up to now (including the 0-0 draw between them on matchday one), eight have contained two goals or fewer. This game could follow suit.
On a similar note, there is a decent chance that at least one of Morocco or Croatia will fail to find the back of the net. Both sides drew a blank in the semi-finals, as the Atlas Lions lost 2-0 to France and the Vatreni went down 3-0 to Argentina.
Morocco have failed to score in exactly half of their six encounters in Qatar. They do carry an attacking threat and will be more liberated here than they were in recent games against Spain and Portugal, but they are not exactly prolific.
Croatia have at times struggled in the final third too. They are yet to find a suitable successor to Mario Mandzukic, with Zlatko Dalic having tried several different players at center-forward over the last few weeks. At least one of these teams should be able to keep a clean sheet at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Paris Saint-Germain team-mates Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe have arguably been the standout performers at this World Cup. The two favorites to win the Golden Ball, the award given to the tournament’s best player, will go head-to-head at the Lusail Iconic Stadium on Sunday.
Messi and Mbappe have each scored five goals to date, and we are backing the Argentine forward to add to his tally in the showpiece event. He is his team’s designated penalty taker and the Albiceleste have been awarded four spot-kicks in Qatar, so that is one way he could find the net.
He also poses a threat in open play, particularly with the clever Julian Alvarez helping to make space for his strike partner. Back Messi to score his sixth goal at World Cup 2022.
The World Cup 2018 final was the first since 1986 in which both teams scored at least two goals. France ran out 4-2 winners over Croatia four years ago, and there is reason to believe Sunday’s encounter will be equally entertaining.
Argentina have scored at least twice in every match they have participated in since their shock 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia on matchday one. The only time France did not score twice in a game was when their second-string side lost 1-0 to Tunisia in a Group D dead rubber.
We are backing attacks to come out on top on Sunday. Back both teams to score when Argentina do battle with France in the final of World Cup 2022.
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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