Sports Desk: A trip to the 2018 World Cup final is on the line when England and Croatia square off Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET. England is No. 12 in the FIFA World Rankings, while Croatia is No. 20.
England cruised past Sweden to reach the semifinals, while Croatia edged out Russia in a penalty shootout. England enters this semifinal match at +130 World Cup odds on the money line, meaning you'd need to bet $100 on an English victory to win $130. Croatia is +240, while a draw in regulation is +220. The over-under on total goals scored in this 2018 World Cup fixture is 2. England is 11-4 to win the entire tournament, while Croatia is going off at 4-1 World Cup odds to take home the trophy.
Before you enter your 2018 World Cup picks for Croatia vs. England, you need to see what European football expert David Sumpter has to say. Sumpter is an applied mathematician and author of "Soccermatics," a book that explains how math works inside the sport. Together with other experienced analysts, Sumpter developed the powerful Soccerbot model.
The Soccerbot reads current odds and all team performance data, calculates key metrics and predicts upcoming matches. In nearly three seasons since its inception, the Soccerbot is up an incredible 1,800 percent on bookmakers' closing odds.
The model is crushing the 2018 World Cup knockout stage. It correctly predicted draws in regulation for Spain-Russia (+280), Croatia-Denmark (+225) and England-Colombia (+215) and was all over France beating Uruguay in regulation to reach the semifinals, not to mention Brazil and Belgium cruising in the Round of 16. Earlier, the model nailed draws for Argentina-Iceland (+385) and Brazil-Switzerland (+360) and predicted Iran upsetting Morocco at +275, just to name a few of its big calls. Anyone who has followed it is way, way up.
Now, the Soccerbot has digested the film, crunched the numbers and broken down every single player on the Croatian and English rosters. The model has released a very strong money-line pick, which it's sharing over at SportsLine.
The model knows England finished second in Group G after a loss to Belgium. It allowed a stoppage-time tally to Colombia before winning on penalty kicks. It then conquered the Swedes in the quarterfinals, putting the match out of reach when Dele Alli scored in the 58th minute for a two-goal lead.
England hasn't conceded more than one goal in any game in Russia 2018. Harry Kane has six goals, the most by any Englishman at a World Cup since 1986, when star striker Gary Lineker tallied six in Mexico, and he's the 2018 Golden Boot favorite. England's lone World Cup title came back in 1966.
The model also knows that Croatia secured its semifinal berth with its second consecutive penalty shootout victory. It will be Croatia's second-ever appearance in a World Cup semifinal, the last time coming in 1998. That year, it lost to France in the semis and defeated the Netherlands in the third-place game.
Croatia went down early to host Russia in the quarterfinals this year, but quickly bounced back and equalized thanks to Andrej Kramaric's goal. Croatia became just the second team to progress via penalty shootout in consecutive knockout games in a World Cup tournament since Argentina in 1990.
Croatia's well-balanced attack has been on full display in Russia. Croatia has had eight different goal scorers at the 2018 World Cup - only Belgium (9) has had more.
risingbd/Dhaka/July 11, 2018/Aminul/Nasim