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World Cup Odds 2018: Initial Lines for Round of 16 Following Group Results

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJune 28, 2018

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JUNE 26: Lionel Messi of Argentina icelebrates after he scores the opening goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group D match between Nigeria and Argentina at Saint Petersburg Stadium on June 26, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

France's showdown with Argentina on Saturday headlines the last-16 of the FIFA World Cup in 2018, as the competition begins to ramp up.

With the group stages concluded, one loss means you'll be heading home from Russia in the coming days, and there are some absorbing matches to take in, including the one aforementioned. Argentina left it late to progress from their group, with a late Marcos Rojo goal against Nigeria proving decisive.

Elsewhere on Saturday, there's another eye-catching encounter between Portugal and Uruguay, whereas host nation Russia meet Spain on Monday. Brazil's clash with Mexico also looks like a fixture not to be missed.

Here's a look at how the knockout stages are shaping up, where bookmakers set the opening odds and a preview of a couple of standout encounters.

FIFA World Cup 🏆 @FIFAWorldCup

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Saturday, June 30

France (+137) (bet $100 to win $137), Argentina (+258), Draw (+204)

Uruguay (+192), Portugal (+181), Draw (+201)

   

Sunday, July 1

Spain (-187), Russia (+654), Draw (+307)

Croatia (-125), Denmark (+478), Draw (+233)

    

Monday, July 2

Brazil (-188), Mexico (+600), Draw (+320)
    

Tuesday, July 3

Sweden (+190), Switzerland (+160), Draw (+200)

Figures are courtesy of OddsShark.

    

France vs. Argentina

While neither of these sides have hit top gear in Russia yet, the prospect of two genuine heavyweights going head-to-head this early in the competition is exciting, as David Amoyal noted:

David Amoyal @DavidAmoyal

Cannot wait for France-Argentina. Even though quality isn’t close to Champions League level, I find this so much more intriguing on a visceral level

France's passage to this point was straightforward, albeit far from inspiring. Les Bleus were able to grab dogged victories against Australia and Peru, before playing out a moribund stalemate against Denmark in their final group game.

Jonathan Johnson @Jon_LeGossip

I find this ironic, considering Griezmann has piled pressure on himself in Russia with his ill-advised Atleti contract renewal stunt on the eve of the World Cup.

In that outing, manager Didier Deschamps gave chances to a number of players that had been on the fringes of the squad, but the likes of Thomas Lemar and Ousmane Dembele failed to seize their moments. The poor form of Antoine Griezmann will also be a worry heading into this Argentina clash.

As noted by Jonathan Johnson of ESPN FC, it's been an intriguing time for the Atletico Madrid man:

Miguel Delaney @MiguelDelaney

That's maybe Messi's greatest ability. Minimalist touches, maximum impact. Every touch just gives him the most efficient path to what he wants to do. Never embellishes, but still looks amazing.

The same can be said for Argentina, who beat Nigeria to edge into the knockout stages. While Rojo grabbed the winner against the Super Eagles, it was talisman Lionel Messi who inspired La Albiceleste to victory, getting things going with a wonderful first-half goal.

Miguel Delaney was full of praise for the great man after his excellent display:

Stats Zone @StatsZone

FT Uruguay 3-0 Russia Shots: 16-3 On target: 6-1 Uruguay deal top spot with a convincing win against 10 man Russia who go through in second place. https://t.co/srHNzUU41q https://t.co/OxIPzom20Q

Still, as things stand there are still significant holes in this Argentina team, and while the French are by no means a force to be reckoned with yet, their extra organisation and pragmatism will see them through in this one.

Prediction: France 2-1 Argentina

      

Russia vs. Spain

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

Players to commit an error leading to an opposition goal at the #WorldCup (all 1) W. Caballero #ARG A. Maâloul #TUN J. Bednarek #POL W. Szczesny #POL M. Al Owais #KSA S. Umtiti #FRA E. Hallfredsson #ISL E. Kawashima #JPN D. De Gea #ESP S. Ramos #ESP https://t.co/BINmTx7nUa https://t.co/NEBbFwx3KC

Neither the hosts nor the 2010 world champions come into this one with much momentum behind them, as they both put in disappointing performances in their last group games.

Having hammered Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Russia were given something of a lesson by Uruguay on Monday, as they were routinely beaten 3-0. As we can see courtesy of StatsZone, it was a lopsided encounter:

Spain, meanwhile, were held to a 2-2 draw against Morocco, with a late goal from Iago Aspas preventing La Roja from suffering an embarrassing loss.

While Spain do maintain a threat in the final third, at this tournament they have appeared shaky in defence on occasion, with Morocco and Portugal taking advantage of lapses in concentration at the back. As noted below, key men like Sergio Ramos and David De Gea have dropped clangers:

You sense they'll be more switched on against Russia here in what is likely to be a hostile atmosphere for Fernando Hierro's side.

The hosts will no doubt look to tap into that backing and should raise their game. However, their limitations became apparent against Uruguay and Spain, despite their own flaws, will put an end to any slender hopes Russians have of a home winner this year.

Prediction: Russia 0-2 Spain

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