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Steve Davies World Cup tips
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Japan v Costa Rica and Belgium v Morocco: Steve Davies' betting tips

Belgium can qualify for the last 16 of the World Cup by beating Morocco in Doha while Japan can take a giant step towards the same goal with a win over Costa Rica.

But in a World Cup full of surprises, the Racing Post's Steve Davies works out if there are going to be twists in either of these tales.

Can Ticos turn up after opening no-show?

What: Japan v Costa Rica, World Cup

Where: Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar

When: 10:00, Sunday 27th November

How to watch: ITV1

Odds: Japan 4/9, Draw 10/3, Costa Rica 7/1

If one-match form and momentum are your drivers behind a bet, then there's only one outcome at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.

Japan, all energy and pace, also showed their mettle to come from behind to beat Germany 2-1 in their Group E opener on Wednesday.

Three hours later Costa Rica were tamely hoisting the white flag in a 7-0 drubbing by Spain, who didn't even get out of second gear.

Before the tournament the Japanese were 8/11 for this assignment, the Ticos 17/4. Now it's 4/9 Japan and 7/1 Costa Rica. What a difference a matchday makes.

But is that an over-reaction? Surely there's going to be a response from Costa Rica on grounds of pride alone if nothing else.

Japan can edge tight affair

No-one saw Costa Rica's no-show against the Spanish coming. Their form figures in 2022 had been impressive enough with wins over Canada and the US in qualifying and then New Zealand in the play-off. On closer inspection they were quite fortunate to beat the All Whites, but beat them they did.

Against Spain, however, they looked clueless; totally out of their depth and no doubt head coach Luis Suarez told them as much after the game.

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This, of course, is a different challenge. Japan aren't Spain. The Blue Samurai won't work the ball quite as neatly and magically as Gavi and co did, but they have to be buzzing after seeing off the Germans. And they've got previous at qualifying for the round-of-16 having done so in three of the last five Finals.

We saw nothing of Costa Rica as an attacking unit against Spain so Japan to win & under 2.5 goals at 11/8 appeals or also a 2-0 correct score bet on Hajime Moriyasu's men at 11/2.

Belgium need to buck up their ideas

What: Belgium v Morocco, World Cup

Where: Al Thumama Stadium, Doha, Qatar

When: 13:00, Sunday 27th November

How to watch: BBC1

Odds: Belgium 19/20, Draw 5/2, Morocco 29/10

Belgium go into the second round of Group F action on top of the pile after a fairly fortunate 1-0 win over Canada.

Morocco, meanwhile, have a point courtesy of a 0-0 draw against Croatia.

The over-riding impression from the first two games is that the two European teams, ageing and creaky, are there for the taking.

With Morocco, however, and based on the evidence of their opening match, you have to wonder whether or not they have the tools or the ambition to be able to fluster Roberto Martinez's men.

Morocco managed just two shots on target and didn't win a single corner on 35 per cent possession against the Croats. Belgium shouldn't lose to that.

The North Africans, 29/10 outsiders, haven't conceded a goal in the five matches that Walid Regragui has taken charge of, but it's the lack of potency at the other end that makes them easy not to fancy.

De Bruyne the key to Belgian joy

Belgium have to improve as well after riding their luck against Canada, who created more chances and missed a penalty against them.

The Belgians, a side packed with senior players, are looking old though you still probably wouldn't oppose them given how limited Morocco are. And the Moroccans will be looking for a point and taking their chances against Canada.

Belgium & under 2.5 goals at 3/1 looks a decent way in, while Kevin De Bruyne to score first at 13/2 - or maybe anytime at 11/4 - is also worth considering.

Anything good for the Belgians will come through their Manchester City playmaker who will also represent a dangerous proposition from set-plays.

Clearly the Red Devils would become a different proposition if Romelu Lukaku is fit to lead the line rather than Michy Batshuayi but having won their first game Martinez has no need to take undue risks with the Inter man, who is 4/1 to get the game's first goal.

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