FINLAND VS. BELGIUM
GAME INFORMATION: 3 P.M., MONDAY, JUNE 21 AT KRESTOVSKY STADIUM, ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA
BETTING ODDS: FINLAND +950/BELGIUM -300/DRAW +375
TOTALS: OVER 2.5 -120/UNDER 2.5 -110
The big question in St. Petersburg is how seriously does Belgium bother to take this match? The Red Devils will have some of their veterans on the pitch in order to get their fitness levels up, but considering that all Belgium needs is a draw, it’s very likely that we see a low-scoring match to close out Group B. Finland, of course, needs only a point to ensure passage to the next round and will throw everything it has into defending the net and trying to earn a scoreless draw. The Finns only have two attempts on goal in the entire tournament, and there’s little reason for them to come out and play unless Belgium scores and leaves them with no other option.
MATCH BET: BELGIUM TO WIN AND UNDER 2.5 GOALS, +200
Reason: This is a risk, because with Finland throwing everything into playing defense, Belgium could easily decide that it’s happy with a scoreless draw and do the Finns a favor. However, Belgium’s talent gap is so wide that it should find a goal somewhere in the match no matter how well Finland defends. With Kevin de Bruyne and Axel Witsel starting the match in order to ensure fitness for the round of 16, Belgium has a ton of talent on the pitch and can definitely get one or two goals if it wants.
SCORE BET: BELGIUM 1, FINLAND 0, +525
Reason: This feels a lot like the match between Italy and Wales, as Belgium will likely be able to stroll through this match without breaking much of a sweat. Finland just hasn’t been threatening much at all throughout their first two matches, and given that the Finns have lost two of their past three matches by a 1-0 scoreline, this score looks like a good fit for how these teams will play.
SIDE BET: FINLAND TO GET SHUT OUT, -155
Reason: Just like Wales against Italy, Finland looks incapable of breaking through against Belgium’s defense. Belgium’s defense isn’t as good as Italy’s, but the lack of a breakthrough has more to do with the Finns’ lack of cohesion when going toward the goal. I can’t see Finland breaking through unless it’s in the final 15 minutes of the match, and by then, Belgium should safely be moving on to the next round. The juice annoys me here, but this is a safe, sensible bet.