BlackJack’s Thursday World Cup Plays: Can High-Profile Favorites Bounce Back?
Tim Groothuis-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Lionel Messi
- Two high-profile favorites who struggled in their opening World Cup matches are back on Thursday’s slate.
- BlackJack Fletcher likes Argentina and France to regain their form and win.
Alright, this World Cup has been tricky thus far. Some of the favorites have underperformed early on, Russia looks like a steamroller and Lionel Messi has looked human. It’s been strange so far. But Thursday’s slate of games is a good one, and we need to get out there and get our wins. So let’s head to the pitch and get them.
Australia vs. Denmark (-145)
8 a.m. ET
The Australians competed with France in their first match of this tournament, ultimately losing 2-1. Their problem, which became apparent against the French, is that they struggle to score. That is going to be an issue as the Danes are quite strong defensively. Denmark won their first contest 1-0 against Peru to notch three points. I think they look to keep this game low scoring and a draw would not surprise me. I think the better play here is on the total.
THE PICK: Under 2
Peru vs. France (-227)
11 a.m. ET
As mentioned above, France won their first game 2-1 over the Australians, but did not look particularly impressive. This has happened to several of the higher-profile favorites to start the tournament. Peru lost to Denmark in their first outing and while they are solid on the back end, they lack a significant finishing touch. The French need to show that they are better than they looked against the Aussies. I expect a more focused offensive effort from Les Blues.
THE PICK: France -1 (+116)
Croatia vs. Argentina (-104)
2 p.m. ET
Argentina may be one of the more talented teams in this tournament on paper. However, they did not look that way against Iceland, when they only managed a draw. Croatia, on the other hand, looked quite strong in their opening victory against Nigeria. If Argentina does not win this game, they are at risk of being eliminated in the group stage of the tournament. I don’t see Lionel Messi allowing that to happen, particularly after he missed a penalty kick against Iceland which would have won the game. I think this is a very close game, but I’ll give the edge to Messi and the Argentines.
THE PICK: Argentina ML -104