World Cup outright predictions: Valuable Van Gaal can outwit South Americans
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Simon Barlow
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Louis van Gaal's experience could be key for the Netherlands
Louis van Gaal's experience could be key for the Netherlands

- The Netherlands are getting better with each game and have a solid defence
- The Dutch have not lost in 90 min to Argentina since 1978 and won their last two WC clashes against Brazil
- Recommended bet: Back the Netherlands to win the World Cup

Brazil's dazzling display against South Korea has seen the Samba boys firm up as 7/4 favourites with LiveScore Bet to win the World Cup, but France, the Netherlands and England are equipped to go all the way too.

Each of the remaining eight teams' path to the final is becoming clearer with Brazil to face Croatia in the quarter-final and potentially then the winner of the mouthwatering clash between the Netherlands and Argentina.

A Selecao, who have won each of their last three contests with Croatia - including two at the World Cup finals -  are in much better physical condition than most of their rivals because they rested key starters for their final group game against Cameroon.

In total, Brazil's 23 outfield players used have covered 418 km at an average of 7.0 km per outfield player per game, while the 17 players to don Croatia's famous checked shirts have covered 474 km at an average of 8.1 km each.

France's defensive deficiencies could cost them

France also gave their big names a break against Tunisia and the relative freshness they possess could help them later in the tournament or if the impending clash with England goes to extra-time.

It is 60 years since a team last successfully defended their title, but Les Bleus - 4/1 with LiveScore Bet to repeat what they did four years ago under Didier Deschamps - are in good shape to come through the bottom half of the bracket.

France appear to have shrugged off the setbacks of losing key players like Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba, N'Golo Kante and Christopher Nkunku to injury with the team spirit in the group shining through.

Kylian Mbappe could be the individual star of the tournament and, by bagging five goals in four games, has his sights set on taking the Golden Boot home from Qatar.

England stronger than expected

But the French have been susceptible at the back, conceding once in each of their four games, while England have been more solid than anybody thought they could be before the tournament began.

Of the quarter-finalists, only Morocco have conceded fewer goals per game than the Three Lions, while Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez is the only remaining custodian in the competition to have faced fewer shots on target than Jordan Pickford.

The importance of a strong defence cannot be understated because over the last six World Cup tournaments the eventual winners have conceded an average of just three goals across the entire competition.

Portugal starting to purr

Fernando Santos seems to have found a nice blend with Portugal
Fernando Santos seems to have found a nice blend with Portugal

Portugal, who were the value pick before a ball was kicked at 14/1, still represent good value at this stage - even after being clipped to 6/1 by LiveScore Bet on the strength of their 6-1 hammering of Switzerland in the round if 16.

Fernando Santos' side will face the lowest-ranked team in the last eight, Morocco, and can call upon a deep pool of talent in all positions now.

Van Gaal experience could be decisive

Louis van Gaal's side are growing into the tournament after a slow start, have an enviable array of technical midfield players, a solid defence and an in-form forward player who is full of confidence.

Van Gaal has created a happy camp and possesses more than enough tactical know-how and experience to outwit Lionel Scaloni and Argentina on Friday.

La Albiceleste are overreliant on Lionel Messi and have been prone to periods of panic when teams have applied pressure on their defence.

The task gets tougher for the Dutch if they meet the tournament favourites in the semi-final, but they have defeated Brazil in their last two World Cup finals meetings - the last of which was in Brazil's backyard when Van Gaal was in charge.

Brazil are understandable favourites but the Netherlands offer the greatest current value at LiveScore Bet's odds of 14/1 to improve on their three previous runners-up finishes.

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ArgentinaBrazilNetherlandsMoroccoFrancePortugalEnglandCroatia
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