Jamie Pacheco continues his search for the best same-game multi bets as England clash with Croatia on Wednesday night...
"I mentioned him already but Modric will be crucial. As will Ivan Rakitic. That means Henderson has a huge job on his hands and he may have to take one for the team sooner or later. He picked up a booking already against Colombia and though he’s not a dirty player as such, this could be the toughest game he will have played for a couple of seasons."
Croatia v England
Thursday July 9 19.00
TV: live on ITV1
I'm not entirely sure what Raheem Sterling has done that has made him one of the least popular members of the England squad. If it's for off-field behaviour or his attitude, then so be it. We all have our likes and dislikes and they're not always rational.
But people should at least recognise his contribution to the cause so far in England's World Cup campaign. Yes, England have scored 11 goals so far and he hasn't scored any of them despite starting all matches in an advanced position. However, playing in forward positions isn't just about scoring goals. He's run his heart out, made space for others, drawn fouls and contributed with priceless contributions which have allowed others - including Harry Kane of course - to profit.
That said, this could be the game where he does just that: score. For those who want something a bit more logical than 'he's due' they can look at the fact he'll be up against a Croatia defence that's been through back-to-back games of 120 minutes plus penalties and is likely to be tired. And one missing at least one first-choice defender. This could be Sterling's moment and the day he starts being appreciated more. He's 7/2 to score.
I'll admit to being surprised at how good England have been. Yes, their potential passage to the final has been relatively kindly, but you can only beat the teams you're up against.
Had Croatia beaten Russia in normal time I would have said that they might be worth siding with them here in terms of causing an upset. But that effort, in addition to the relative ease with which England won and the energy they will have saved through managing heir lead makes me think the Croatian journey ends here. The key to the game may be to what extent Jordan Henderson and to a lesser extent Dele Alli can keep Luka Modric quiet. If they can, Croatia could be pretty silent themselves.
But it may need extra time or penalties again to get the job done. Without sounding like a broken record, it would be England in the driving seat if it came to that because they're fresher.
It's best therefore to side with England to qualify rather than the straight match win.
We were right in backing England with a -2 corner handicap last time out. Sadly the other leg let us down, but the corner count (6-1) shows we won with plenty to spare and it's worth going to the well again. That's now every single game that Gareth Southgate's men have had more corners and most of the time won easily rather than just by one or two.
It's very different for Croatia. Despite beating Argentina and Iceland and eventually going through against Denmark, they didn't win the corners battle in any of those. England are very generously priced at 7/5 with a -2 handicap meaning you'd need them to get three or more for the bet to come good. The stats suggest there's a good chance of that happening.
Yellow cards are wiped out after the Quarter-Final stage of the World Cup meaning that no England player is one booking away from missing a potential final. Not that that's an invitation to go around making reckless challenges but in a sense it does increase the likelihood of a few more yellow cards than if players were walking a tightrope. Only a red will now see them miss out on the final.
I mentioned him already but Modric will be crucial. As will Ivan Rakitic. That means Henderson has a huge job on his hands and he may have to take one for the team sooner or later. He picked up a booking already against Colombia and though he's not a dirty player as such, this could be the toughest game he will have played for a couple of seasons. Not just in terms of who he's up against but in terms of the occasion. It might be a case of something's gotta give. Henderson is 9/2 to be shown a card.