Croatia Denies Brazil, World Cup Bettors With Quarterfinal Win

Croatia won in penalties, a World Cup tradition

by

December 9, 2022

Many soccer fans believed the 2022 FIFA World Cup was Brazil and Neymar’s to win, but Croatia had different plans.

In what felt like a déjà vu from the 2018 World Cup, Croatia took Brazil into extra time after both sides battled it out in a 0-0 draw. Neymar arguably scored the goal of the tournament in the 105th minute after swiftly running past Croatian defenders and taking a Lucas Paquetá pass and shooting it past goalkeeper Dominik Livakovi?.

But Croatia didn’t go down quietly. Zlatko Dali?’s squad attacked on a counter, and Bruno Petkovi? scored the equalizer with help from a deflection from Brazilian defender Marquinhos in the 117th minute.

The match went into a penalties, where Croatia won, 4-2, to move on to the semifinals.

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The loss was heartbreaking for Brazil. At BetMGM, 12.2% of tickets and 23.9% of handle, the most among all other teams, were on Brazil to win the World Cup, according to data analyst John Ewing. But the result was a big win for Croatia bettors — and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

It’s important to note in soccer, the three-way bet is for regulation. If a match ends in draw after 90 minutes, it’s that bet that pays out — a massive win for sportsbooks. At DraftKings, 5% of bets and handle were on a tie at +390, according to communications associate Cassie Buontempo. This means a $100 bet would have paid out $490. To simply bet on a team to win regardless of how it happens, you want to bet on the team to advance. Croatia garnered 13% of bets and handle to advance to the semifinals at +475.

At BetMGM, 52% of tickets and 16% of handle were on the Vatreni (Blazers) to advance at +400, according Ewing. A draw had +380 odds and earned 12% of tickets and 4% of the handle.

With the win, Croatia are close to making it back to the final with hopes of winning its first World Cup. When the nation was down 1-0, its odds at BetMGM were at +6600, but after the result, those odds shortened to +800, according to Ewing.

Similar to the 2018 World Cup, Croatia made it through the first two stages of the knockout rounds in penalties, making it 4-0 in penalty shootouts in the country’s history. It has never won a World Cup knockout match in regular time since July 4, 1998 against Germany.

Croatia will play the winner of Argentina in the semifinals.

Thumbnail photo via Yukihito Taguchi/USA TODAY Sports Images

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