World Cup Picks: Expert Lays Out Best Prop Bets For Croatia vs. Brazil, Netherlands vs. Argentina

World Cup Picks: Expert Lays Out Best Prop Bets For Croatia vs. Brazil, Netherlands vs. Argentina article feature image

MB Media/Getty. Pictured: Lionel Messi.

The World Cup resumes with an exceptional slate of quarterfinals on Friday.

First, tournament favorites Brazil take on 2018 finalists Croatia in what might be the ultimate clash of styles.

Then, Argentina take on the Netherlands in a series with plenty of history at this level, including a semifinal in 2014 and quarterfinal in 1998.

The nice thing about betting at this stage of the tournament is you begin to feel like you have more of an idea of how teams play. That makes it an excellent spot to play some prop wagers. Here are three of my best bets for the Friday slate.

World Cup Prop Bets

Brazil vs. Croatia: 1st Half Total Under 1 Goal (-101 via bet365)

After Neymar returned from an ankle sprain, Brazil looked ever so good in their 4-1 demolition of South Korea in the round of 16. But there’s precedent for the South Americans romping past their first knockout round opponent. And it’s not all that good for them.

Brazil also enjoyed three-goal victories in their first knockout games in 1998, 2006 and 2010. In the latter two, a quarterfinal defeat followed. In the former, they pulled out a 3-2 win over Denmark in the match of the tournament at France ‘98.

This Brazilian team is more balanced than their 2006 and 2010 iterations. But the point is, it's not super likely that their romp in the last round means more blowouts are coming.

Croatia certainly won't be overwhelmed by the moment. It's clear they believe they can advance deep in this event despite having to face Brazil.

That's the only way to explain manager Zlatko Dalic removing Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Ivan Perisic in extra time. He knew he'd need those veterans to have something left if they advanced to a quarterfinal they intend on winning.

I expect Croatia to keep this close early, and even if they go behind, not to immediately send numbers forward. They didn't do that against Japan, and it helps that Richarlison is not a true back-to-goal striker for Selecao.

That’s why the first half total at this number is the play here. It has cashed five times so far between these teams at this tournament, pushed once and lost only twice.

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Netherlands vs. Argentina: 2 or 3 Total Goals (-105 via bet365)

These are two teams where the value on totals appears to be clustered to the middle.

The Netherlands have one in-form striker in Cody Gakpo and another prolific one in Memphis Depay. 

But they’ve been playing a deeper block for much of the tournament (particularly against the United States), and have sensibly built their tactical approach around their best player, center back Virgil van Dijk.

Argentina have seven-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi in arguably the best World Cup form of his career. But Lautaro Martinez has looked lost through large parts of the tournament after being Messi's co-leading team scorer in qualifying. It's reached the point where he’s been benched in favor of Manchester City prospect Julian Alvarez.

There’s enough talent on the field to expect a couple of goals. But there's also enough imperfections and evenness between these sides to think an explosion like Portugal's or Brazil's in the last round is unlikely.

A goal-bands wager on the total to land on 2 or 3 goals makes sense in this spot, even if it's slightly under even odds and a 51.2% implied probability. The bet that has hit on 7-of-8 previous occasions between these sides at this tournament.

Netherlands vs. Argentina: Argentina First to 5 Corners (+130 via bet365)

Continuing with Friday's late game, there are a few ways it could play out. One is that the Netherlands take a similar approach to how they played the United States, trying to force Argentina wide and bait them into opportune counterattacking positions.

If that occurs, we could see the Albiceleste hit a lot of crosses that the Oranje clear out for a bunch of corners.

The Netherlands conceded five corners against the United States and Ecuador. Neither of those would be expected to apply as much pressure as Argentina might, particularly if they went behind.

Messi's squad have forced nine corners twice — once against ultra-defensive Poland and once while chasing the game against Saudi Arabia. In the other two matches, their opponents actually out-cornered them.

But given the possible tactics, there's value on betting Argentina to reach five corners first at +130 odds and an implied 43.5% probability. It’s a wager that has hit on 4-of-8 occasions at this World Cup between these sides.

If you want to be more aggressive, betting Argentina to reach seven corners first at +333 odds could also provide some value.

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