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Ian Wilkerson tips
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Croatia v Belgium and Canada v Morocco: Ian Wilkerson's World Cup betting tips

World Cup Group F concludes on Thursday and while two defeats mean Canada cannot qualify for the second phase, it looks set to be a keen contest between Croatia, Belgium and Morocco for the two spots in the last-16.

The Racing Post’s Ian Wilkerson gives his best tips for the final two Group F matches on Thursday afternoon - Croatia v Belgium and Canada v Morocco.

Croatia can exploit Belgian weaknesses

What: Croatia v Belgium
Where: Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
When: 15:00, Thursday 1st December
How to watch: BBC One
Odds: Croatia 13/8, Draw 12/5, Belgium 13/8

Croatia and Belgium were expected to be the two teams who comfortably booked their passage into the knockout stage from Group F but it has not turned out like that.

The Croatians, who were finalists in Russia four years ago, have taken their time to get into top gear, but they look well-placed to cement their place at the top of the table after collecting four points from their opening two games.

It took them a while to get into the swing of things with an uninspiring goalless draw against Morocco, but they were excellent in a 4-1 win over Canada and represent good value to claim another victory at 13/8.

Belgium are second in Fifa’s world rankings, but have done little in Qatar to suggest they merit such a lofty position.

Much has been made of Belgium’s golden generation - they have talents such as Kevin de Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and a host of others - but the evidence of the last week suggests their best chance of winning a trophy has passed them by.

Michy Batshauyi gave them a barely merited 1-0 victory over Canada, who missed a first-half penalty and spurned several other chances.

However, Roberto Martinez’s side were unable to learn from that close shave and a 2-0 defeat to Morocco was a body blow to their qualification chances, from which they may not recover.

Perisic can make his presence felt

The main problem for Martinez is that his team is full of players whose 30th birthday is long behind them.

They were exposed by Morocco’s pace in their 2-0 loss on Sunday and while there are still members of Croatia’s old guard around, they are still capable of causing them problems.

One such player who is enjoying the tournament is Tottenham’s Ivan Perisic, who is not letting his 33 years serve as a handicap.

The man who scored against England in the semi-final four years ago has been right in the thick of the attacking action and set up two of the goals Zlatko Dalic’s team scored against the Canadians.

Against a defence that struggles with pace, he can have a part to play and a price of 7/2 about the Spurs man making an assist is worth an interest, especially as the Belgians have to push forward looking for a win.

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Morocco shouldn't let their chance slip

What: Canada v Morocco
Where: Al Thumama Stadium, Doha
When: 15:00, Thursday 1st December
How to watch: BBC Two
Odds: Canada 5/2, Draw 12/5, Morocco 11/10

Morocco need just a point from their final Group F game to progress to the last-16 of the World Cup for only the second time, but they have demonstrated in their opening two games that they should have too much for a Canada team who are already eliminated.

The hard work would appear to have been done by the North Africans after they held previous finalists Croatia to a goalless draw in their opening game and they claimed probably their most impressive result ever, a 2-0 win over highly fancied Belgium.

That was only their third victory in 18 games at the finals, but there is a good opportunity for them to build on that against Canada.

Their opponents showed plenty of spirit in an opening defeat to Belgium and would have perhaps thought they deserved to win, but they paid the price for Alphonso Davies missing a first-half penalty.

Davies scored their first goal ever at the World Cup with a thumping header in the early stages of their match with Croatia, but after talking a good game, they were outdone by a superior team and a 4-1 defeat did not flatter their European opponents.

That will take a lot of recovering from and even if they are positive against Morocco, there is a strong chance they will be caught on the break by a team who may seek the extra insurance a victory brings them.

A tight encounter looking likely

Morocco have yet to concede a goal in their two games and it seems unlikely that this final encounter of their group campaign will prove to be spectacular.

They need just a draw to ensure they will be in the knockout stage, which would be a huge achievement considering how tough their group looked on paper and under 2.5 goals in this match looks a sensible play at 8/11.

The North Africans have demonstrated that they are the better of these two teams, but their approach to this match is key.

A draw would be a satisfactory outcome and, should they open the scoring, we can expect them to shut up shop and defend, and they have demonstrated so far that they are pretty good at that.

There is little inclination for them to take risks and they should remain solid, so it looks unlikely that we will witness a large number of goals.

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