Dr. Doug’s World Cup Semi-Final Analysis and Maybe a Laugh or Two

England outplayed France if you look at the stats. They possessed the ball 57% of the time and had eight shots on goal to only five for France. The announcers I’m listening to agree.

Harry Kane had a poor effort on his 2nd PK, to say the least. You have to get the ball in a PK on frame in order to score!!!!!!! (I hardly ever use an exclamation point.) As Yogi says, short putts don’t go in, and zero percent of PKs at or outside the “furniture,” as British announcers say, do not find the net or at least the inside where scoring happens. I still love Harry Kane, and I hope you do too.

The semifinal games feature Argentina vs. Croatia on 12/13 and France vs. Morocco on 12/14. This means that the winner and the loser of the first game get an extra day off prior to the final on 12/18 or the third-place game on 12/17.


If Morocco can beat Belgium, Spain, and Portugal, they can also beat France, a team that was outplayed by England. If Croatia can beat Brazil, for goodness sake, they can beat ANYBODY! (See note above.)

They will both be underdogs, but you count them out at your own risk. A Croatia-Morocco final would be crazy from a “who saw this coming” point of view.

Who’s the dog? (That’s the underdog for those not into sports betting jargon.) The team that beat Brazil, or the team that beat three top European teams and only gave up one own goal in five World Cup games, including PKs!!!

A Morocco vs Croatia final could be a tough watch. Wake me up when we get to PKs. They are both from group F, and they played each other to a 0-0 (or nil nil) draw during the group round-robin play. Croatia had the ball 65% of the time, but both teams only had two shots on goal.

Who wouldn’t rather watch Argentina and France? There are two other possibilities if there is only one upset, and neither says here is a Must-See game for the casual fan.

It’s going to be life without football for a few days. Then I go cold turkey for two years as I can’t care about the national leagues of other countries. No offense, as I suspect that non-Americans may not care too much about the US league either, although they probably know more players that American fans. I only live for the World Cup and the European Championship, which has better teams overall than the World Cup.

In games when the Premier League teams play, I might watch games if my media would tell me when they’re on. I know, it’s on the Internet somewhere. My bad. I guess that means that I don’t really care about club/city teams mostly owned by people/countries who are seriously wealthy.

It’s hard to pick a side if both sides are located in a country where you don’t live. I do cheer for the Elfsborg team located in the city of Borås, Sweden, where my Swedish cousins live. I also pull for NYFC and The Red Bulls in the US Major Soccer League (MLS) as they are essentially New York teams even though The Red Bulls, like the Giants and Jets, play in New Jersey.

With rare exceptions, the MLS features a lot of players you never heard of. The players you may be familiar with are forty-ish-European has-beens squeezing the last paycheck out of what is left of their talent. Get ready for the Messi tour.

If I had to pick teams I wanted to win by country, I would go United States (Where I was born and live), Sweden (My Mother’s home), and Canada and/or England, where I have friends and family. After that, it gets a little arbitrary. In my case, I liked watching Luka Modric during Croatia’s run to the finals in 2018. My daughter also won some money backing Croatia, so that pulls me to them.

This is exciting for Arab and African countries as this is the first country to make it to the semi-finals from either region. Ironically, I find that a lot of people in the US routing for underdog Morocco may also find that they disagree with Arab countries’ views and laws regarding the LGBTQ+ scene.

The Odds and My Picks

I don’t gamble because I live on a fixed-income teacher pension, which means it’s not broke. I do, however, follow the betting scene. The odds for the four teams left to win the Cup are France +110, Argentina +170, Croatia +750, and Morocco +900. The odds for the semifinals are Argentina (-120) vs. Croatia (+400) and France (+189) vs. Morocco (+650). You have to bet $120 to win $100 if you bet on Argentina and $100 to win $400 if Croatia wins. You have to bet $189 to win $100 if France wins and bet $100 to win $650 if Morocco wins. This screams bet the dogs!

As my rationale above explains, these underdogs are only underdogs because they don’t carry a World Cup-winning brand. If you are betting on France and Argentina, the favorites, you don’t have much to win. If you bet the underdogs, you only need one of them to cash to win overall. I would be surprised if at least one underdog doesn’t make the final. Croatia made the final last time, so they have been there. Morocco represents the African continent and the Arab world. Both games they play going forward will be big-time home games for them. They also haven’t given up a goal kicked by another team yet.

Somebody has to win, and good for them. I enjoy watching soccer/football at this level every two years. I just hope that I can get a ticket to a game near me when the World Cup comes to North America in 2026. I hope you can too.

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