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.
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.