FIFA World Cup: New England Patriots Head Coach Picks Winner of Croatia-Argentina Battle
The World Cup semifinals are here, with Croatia facing Argentina today and France doing battle with Morocco tomorrow. Both games are going to be tough, but the head coach of the NFL’s New England Patriots thinks he knows who will win today’s contest.
Bill Belichick has been a successful head coach for the Pats for the past 20+ years, leading the team to six Super Bowl championships. He knows a thing or two about winning and believes Croatia will hand Argentina an unexpected defeat.
Belichick wore a Croatian flag patch when he suited up for the Pats’ Monday Night Football game against the Arizona Cardinals. His could be biased, though – his paternal grandparents emigrated from Croatian 130 years ago, meaning Belichick has natural Croatian blood coursing through his veins.
No Clear Prediction
This will be a high-flying match with, hopefully, less drama than Argentina’s previous game. Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lohoz was card-happy in the team’s match against the Netherlands and ultimately got ejected by FIFA for his antics.
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Argentina, which faces FIFA action for publicly condemning Lohoz, almost reached the end of the line in a World Cup before they lost to Germany in Brazil in 2014. Croatia had a shot four years later before France took them out. Now, both are two steps away from glory and will leave everything on the field in this game.
Argentina missed a comfortable victory in the final minutes against the Netherlands, conceding two late goals in the game. They know that a third World Cup title is close, but the lessons they learned against the Dutch put the team on alert, and they cannot expect an easy match against Croatia.
The semifinal match against England in the last World Cup was the greatest match of all time; the game against Brazil (in the quarter-finals here) comes in second. If we win against Argentina, that would make it the greatest historical game for Croatia of all time,” said Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic.
Croatia’s journey to get this far has not been easy. A single victory in 90 minutes against Canada in the group stage and four draws allowed them to squeak by until now. However, defensively, the Croats have been on top of their game, and goalkeeper Dominik Livaković’s role in their victories cannot be overlooked.
All sportsbooks give Argentina the odds on winning today; however, the World Cup has been full of surprises. 24 of the games have gone to the underdog, and Croatia has repeatedly been behind throughout the tournament, and anything goes.
Croatian Model Has Unique Gift If Croatia Wins
Repeatedly, Croatian model and a big fan of her home country’s team, Ivana Knoll, has been the center of controversy. She has attended the games in a wardrobe fashioned after the Croatian flag.
While her compatriots don’t mind, locals in Qatar have called her out for “disrespecting” the flag. Knoll has the perfect solution to appease them. If Croatia wins, she’ll strip down to nothing. That will give sports bettors something else to look forward to.
So far, during this World Cup series, sports betting has been relatively clean. During the first 56 matches, no suspicious betting activities or threats of match manipulation were detected, according to the integrity working group established by FIFA to monitor sports betting markets and real-time plays.
The monitoring was carried out in collaboration with Qatar’s Safety and Security Operations Committee (SSOC), which created an international coordination center for the tournament. It also included the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime following a new partnership between the organization and FIFA in 2020.
While legitimate sports betting is running smoothly, illegal operations continue to cause trouble. Hong Kong, the Philippines and other jurisdictions have made several high-profile busts recently, and Turkey adds its name to the list.
The Eastern European country just arrested 101 people and seized $43 million in a series of raids on illegal online betting activity. It was the second time in as many months they busted groups with ties to Halil Falyalı, an illegal gambling ringleader who was killed in Cyprus earlier this year.
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