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James Holliman
James Holliman
Super Utility Guy
Holliman has honed his well-rounded sports knowledge as a writer and editor for nearly 30 years in the Tampa Bay area. He witnessed the 1970's heyday of the North American Soccer League as well as the debut of three major sports franchises and an FBS team at his alma mater. His sports interests have expanded worldwide, and as a former competitive soccer player and hack golfer, he has a profound knowledge of those sports. Holliman's betting approach is centered on crunching the numbers, but he sees the whole field and relies on his instinct. For James Holliman media inquiries, contact SportsLine@CBSInteractive.com.
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World Cup | France 3 @ Argentina 3 | 12/18 | 3:00 PM UTC

Argentina +175

LOSS

ANALYSIS: France are vulnerable in the back, and they might not even be here had England converted another one of their eight shots on target. Argentina have allowed eight on net in the entire tournament. The Three Lions also made Kylian Mbappe a spectator for much of their quarterfinal match, and Argentina’s defenders are far superior. Lionel Messi will probably score on a PK (England drew two penalties), but Julian Alvarez and Alex Mac Allister will have more impact for La Albiceleste. Messi finally gets his crowning achievement, but the youngsters will make it clear that the Argentines are in good hands for long-term success.

+490 8-4 IN LAST 12 WCS PICKS

World Cup | Morocco 1 @ Croatia 2 | 12/17 | 3:00 PM UTC

Morocco +200

LOSS

ANALYSIS: This one comes down to motivation. Croatia can’t top last season’s runner-up finish, while the Atlas Lions can fully cement their place in World Cup history. Injuries have been catching up to Morocco, but they still haven’t been letting shots near their net. They have allowed 12 on target in six matches, and their approach should work well against a Croatia team that lacks firepower. The Checkered Ones also looked completely gassed against Argentina. The question to me is if Morocco can get it done in regulation. I think they can, so I like this better than +0.5 at -160. I think we might see more goals here than expected, so I’m staying away from the total.

+490 8-4 IN LAST 12 WCS PICKS

World Cup | Croatia 0 @ Argentina 3 | 12/13 | 7:00 PM UTC

Croatia +0.5

LOSS

ANALYSIS: The Checkered Ones simply won’t be defeated in regulation in a knockout match, and they have risen to every challenge. Sure, if Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku and Brazil’s constellation of stars could finish their chances, the Croats would already be home. But goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic has been one of the tournament’s best players, and the wily veterans of Croatia just know how to win. Oddly enough, the pressure will be greater on Lionel Messi and Argentina than Luka Modric and the 2018 runners-up. Croatia defeated the Argentines 3-0 in Russia in 2018, and while that is unlikely to happen here, getting this at -105 is good value. I’d probably play it to -120. I think Argentina win on penalties, but Croatia vs. Morocco in the final wouldn’t shock me.

+490 8-4 IN LAST 12 WCS PICKS

World Cup | Morocco 0 @ France 2 | 12/14 | 7:00 PM UTC

UNDER 2.5

WIN

ANALYSIS: I like this at -160 more than France -195 on the money line, as the French might have to work overtime to get past this fierce bunch. Les Bleus had some trouble creating chances against an England team that is far less disciplined in the back. Kylian Mbappe was mostly a non-factor in the quarterfinal but should produce at least one bit of magic. If France make mistakes like they did against the Three Lions, the Moroccans can cash in, but they just don’t create enough chances. Key Morocco defenders Roman Saiss, Nayef Aguerd and Noussair Mazraoui and forward Hakim Zayech are all hobbled. Some (if not all) will surely try to play, and that could be their downfall. France get through, but I’m not sure it will be in regulation.

+565 5-0 IN LAST 5 WCS O/U PICKS
+65 2-1 IN LAST 3 MAR O/U PICKS

World Cup | France 2 @ England 1 | 12/10 | 7:00 PM UTC

France -0.5

WIN

ANALYSIS: The Three Lions have the superior depth, so if it goes to the wire, they’ll have the advantage. I don’t think it will, so I love this at +130. England have been slow starters, and France have the talent to take advantage and grab an early lead. That will put a ton of pressure on England. Kylian Mbappe will be the best player on the field, and Olivier Giroud just always ends up in the right spot to put one away. Both teams should score, but the England back line will make some mistakes, and Mbappe’s finishing has been ruthless. I say France wins 3-1.

+490 8-4 IN LAST 12 WCS PICKS