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Comprehensive 2022 World Cup betting guide: Team-by-team previews, full predictions, best bets, and more

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We were made to wait into the depths of 2022, but the greatest tournament on the sporting calendar is finally upon us. All eyes turn to Qatar for the latest edition of the World Cup, which will be the final of its kind. Starting in 2026, 48 teams will vie for World Cup glory, meaning this edition is the last to host just 32 teams since adopting the new format in 1998.

In this comprehensive guide I will go group by group, and team by team, giving my thoughts on all 32 nations in Qatar, with a bet for every team, followed by my full tournament predictions and best bets.

Let’s dive right in.

Group A

ECUADOR (+400 to win group, +100 to qualify)

If the World Cup was hosted in Quito, I’d back Ecuador to win the whole damn thing. La Tricolor are a force at altitude on home soil, but feeble and unthreatening away from Quito. They boast a strong spine made up of Leverkusen centre-back Piero Hincapie, Brighton left-back Pervis Estupinan, Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo, and Los Angeles FC midfielder Jose Cifuentes, but squad depth is considerably lacking, and I have no idea where the goals will come from. Enner Valencia’s best days are behind him, though he’s been in good form for Fenerbahce, and Gonzalo Plata is a capable winger, but recent results are telling. In their six friendlies in 2022, Ecuador have scored just one goal – in a 1-0 win over Cape Verde – while they haven’t conceded any. Against much stronger teams in Netherlands and Senegal, the defense won’t be able to keep the clean sheet streak intact, while the attack will have an even tougher time getting off the mark. They also have the unlucky honor of playing in the tournament’s first match against Qatar. A host nation has never lost the opening match at the World Cup. That’s a narrative that doesn’t necessarily warrant backing, given Qatar’s quality vs. previous hosts, but if the trend continues we could see Ecuador struggle to accrue more than a point in this group stage.

Bet: Ecuador under 3.5 points (+103, Pinnacle); Ecuador to finish bottom of group (+333, Bet365)

NETHERLANDS (-225, -800)

Unlike the high-flying Oranje of World Cups past, this Dutch outfit is built off a strong foundation in defense – Virgil van Dijk, Nathan Ake, Matthijs de Ligt, Jurrien Timber, and Stefan de Vrij provide the Netherlands with an embarrassment of riches at the back. Frenkie de Jong and Teun Koopmeiners highlight a skilled and tenacious midfield, providing a fantastic launching pad for a dynamic attack, led by Memphis Depay, Cody Gakpo, and Ajax duo Steven Bergwijn and Steven Berghuis. The Oranje should cruise through Group A with relative ease and possess all the pieces required under Louis van Gaal to win the tournament, but the path could be daunting with Argentina a possible quarterfinal opponent, and Brazil in the semis. The ceiling is high, and the Dutch warrant a flier at an attractive price, but whether they can get over the hump remains to be seen.

Bet: Netherlands to reach quarterfinal (-138, Bet365); Netherlands to win the World Cup (+1500, Fanduel)

QATAR (+1600, +333)

The only reason for optimism surrounding Qatar is the historic success of host nations at the World Cup. The narrative is certainly working in the hosts’ favor, but it’s not pretty beyond that. This squad is worse than the one South Africa brought in 2010 and is quite likely the worst World Cup host nation we’ve ever seen. They’ve struggled mightily in friendly action, drawing Morocco’s amateurs, beating Albania’s B team by virtue of a penalty, and losing handily to Canada, showing no ability to compete against even half-decent competition. Akram Afif and Almoez Ali provide a bit of punch going forward, but this starting XI is bereft of skill and will need to fully cling to the magic of playing on home soil to avoid a disastrous display. Sticking with the narrative approach, a World Cup host has never lost an opening match, and Ecuador certainly doesn’t strike fear into you, so perhaps they will have at least something to celebrate during this tournament.

Bet: Qatar +0.25 vs. Ecuador (-112, Pinnacle)

SEGENAL (+500, -110)

Sadio Mane’s injury is a significant blow – the Bayern forward is set to miss the tournaent – and while no one player can replace him internally, Senegal still have plenty of attacking quality beyond him to collectively fill the void in the interim, with Mane’s absence contributing to a better price on his home country to advance. Watford’s Ismaila Sarr, Villarreal’s Nicolas Jackson, and Salernitana’s Boulaye Dia are all in terrific form domestically and will be able to provide enough in attack to help Senegal through a negotiable group, backed by a very experienced and accomplished midfield, and a respectable back line led by Chelsea stalwart Kalidou Koulibaly. Getting through the group stage is more than doable, but a run to the quarters might be out of the question without the prolific Bayern forward. 

Bet: Senegal to qualify (+111, Pinnacle)

Group B

ENGLAND (-300 to win group, -1400 to qualify)

This was something of a gift draw for England, given a history of slow starts at major tournaments, but an opening match against Iran is nothing to gloss over. Nonetheless, this is too good a side to not top Group B, but it’s beyond the group stage where things get especially tricky. A last-16 tie with Netherlands or Senegal looms, with Argentina or France likely waiting in the quarters, and Brazil, Germany, or Spain after that. It’s going to be a gauntlet for England in the knockouts, as a run to the finals doesn’t appear to be on the cards. Gareth Southgate’s side will do very well to reach the semis in Qatar. 

Bet: Iran +1.25 vs. England (-103, Pinnacle)

IRAN (+1600, +350)

Don’t sleep on Iran. Playing close to home – a short trip across the Persian Gulf – the conditions are favorable in a hardly daunting group to reach the knockouts for the first time ever. Porto striker Mehdi Taremi is in sensational form – five goals and two assists in five Champions League matches – and he will lead a very capable and experienced attack alongside Sardar Azmoun, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, and Karim Ansarifard. This is an experienced, compact group that’s defensively sound and fairly clinical up front, led by an accomplished coach in Carlos Queiroz who knows the group inside and out. That’s a good recipe for success in a wide-open group.

Bet: Iran and England to advance from Group B (+700, Bet365)

USA (+550, +100)

A polarizing team heading into Qatar, there are those who believe USA are primed for a surprise run, and those expecting the worst, with few seeming to fall in between. I’m in the camp that expects a dismal display from the Stars and Stripes in Group B, with manager Gregg Berhalter appearing out of his depth. We really haven’t seen anything from this group to suggest otherwise. They were very poor in qualifying, and recent results haven’t been much better, drawing Saudi Araba and El Salvador, and losing to Japan in their three most recent fixtures, scoring just one goal. There’s a good mix of established players and exciting youngsters in the squad, but buying into a sudden USA turnaround on the big stage is a massive risk. They’re an inexperienced and poorly coached group that looks much better positioned to make noise on home soil in 2026 than in Qatar, on the back of a squad built purely on unsubstantiated potential.

Bet: USA to finish last in Group B (+500, Bet365)

WALES (+600, +110)

Wales were brushed aside and relegated in the Nations League on the back of four defeats (and one draw) in five matches, but they were competitive in a strong group. Each of those losses against Netherlands (twice), Belgium, and Poland were by just one goal, and they were unbeaten through their last nine qualifying matches. It’s going to be a fascinating battle for second spot in Group B, although the qualifier will likely face a swift exit in the knockouts. Gareth Bale will have plenty of support in attack in the form of Harry Wilson, Daniel James, and Brennan Johnson, and they’re strong at the back as well, but it’s in the midfield third where things quickly fall apart. How much do Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen have left in the tank? In my eyes it’s a much tighter battle between them and Iran to progress than the market is suggesting, so I much prefer taking the price on Iran (see above), and will instead look to back Wales in the opening match against USA at a solid price.

Bet: Wales -0.5 vs. USA (+204, Pinnacle)

Group C

ARGENTINA (-250 to win group, -1200 to qualify)

A popular selection to win it all, and for good reason, Lionel Messi is graced with his best Argentina team yet as he gets set for a final run at World Cup glory. It’s hard to pinpoint a weak spot in this squad, with world class talent littered throughout all three phases – I’d hate to be in Lionel Scaloni’s shoes and have to pick a starting XI from the options at his disposal. With the market so high on Argentina though, it’s tough to find any value in their tournament futures. A semifinal date with Brazil is a very strong possibility, and it would be an absolute dream for that to come to fruition. However, with France and Netherlands possible Round of 16 and quarterfinal, the futures market doesn’t offer a whole lot to get down on. Instead I’ll pivot to attack, where Lautaro Martinez is mistakably forgotten by the presence of Messi. The striker has been in outstanding form that really dates back to 2019. He’s netted 10 goals in his last 15 international appearances, and will be the focal point up top for a team capable of making a deep run, and one that could rack up goals early in a very friendly group.

Bet: Lautaro Martinez to lead Argentina in goals (+375, Coolbet); Lautaro Martinez to win the Golden Boot (+2500, Bet365)

MEXICO (+500, -110)

El Tri head to Qatar with one of the most incredible World Cup streaks currently active. Mexico has advanced past the group stage only to lose in the Round of 16 in seven successive World Cups. Only twice in their history have they won a knockout stage match – 1986 and 1970, both hosted in Mexico. That streak comes to an end this year, not because they’ll finally win a last-16 match, but because they will not make it out of the group stage. El Tri bring to Qatar their worst squad in two decades, highlighted by a miserable qualification campaign that saw them win just once from six matches against Canada, Costa Rica, and USA, with their form failing to improve since. Napoli’s Hirving Lozano is a star up front and Ajax’s Edson Alvarez is a boss in midfield, but the two have precious little support from the rest of the side. Striker Raul Jimenez hasn’t played since August due to a hip injury and was in putrid form on the international stage before that, scoring just three times in qualifying, all from the penalty spot. Meanwhile, Jesus Corona is out of the World Cup with an ankle injury. Scoring will be an issue, while the back line is shaky at best, and that’s a real concern against Poland and Argentina sides full of goals at the moment.

Bet: Mexico not to qualify (-108, Pinnacle)

POLAND (+450, -110)

Unlike Mexico, Poland have been eternally disappointing on the big stage, last reaching the knockouts in 1986 after failing to do so in 2002, 2006, and 2018, while similarly struggling at the Euros. However, a breakthrough is imminent with an exciting crop of young players – Sebastian Szymanski, Nicola Zalewski, Jakub Kaminski – joining an experienced core. Barcelona’s Robert Lewandowski and Napoli’s Piotr Zielinski will have plenty of support in attack, despite being fully capable of shouldering the load, and should have a field day against weak Saudi and Mexico back lines. Aston Villa duo Jan Bednarek and Matty Cash will hold things down at the back and will be well-supported by the veteran savvy of Grzegorz Krychowiak in midfield. Giddy up, Poland. Your time is now.

Bet: Poland to qualify (+100, Pinnacle)

SAUDI ARABIA (+2000, +500)

Herve Renard has a fairly decorated managerial history, winning the African Cup of Nations with Zambia (2012) and Ivory Coast (2015), and helping Morocco end a 20-year World Cup drought in 2018, but he has his work cut out for him here. The Saudis breezed through qualifying in impressive fashion, and while they don’t have the horses to make much noise in this step up in class, they have enough to work with to limit the damage in group play.

Bet: Saudi Arabia over 1.5 goals (-120, Bet365)

Group D

AUSTRALIA (+1400 to win group, +300 to qualify)

It’s hard to be very optimistic about Australia’s chances in Qatar. The squad is a far cry from the very exciting and easy-to-cheer-for outfits of 2006 and 2010, with a barren pipeline of talent coming through the ranks since that golden generation. The Aussies are firmly in the running for the worst squad in Qatar, with their best player, Aaron Mooy, largely being used as a substitute by Celtic. Milos Degenek and Harry Souttar – just recently back from an ACL injury – is a partnership ripe for the picking in defense, while it’s hard to see where the goals will come from, despite Jamie Maclaren’s impressive A-League form. This is a huge step up in class for Australia, who struggled mightily in qualifying as well, managing just one point in four matches against Japan and Saudi Arabia, while being outscored 5-1. It should be a quick and disappointing stay for the Aussies in Qatar.

Bet: Australia lowest-scoring team (+1400, Bet365); Australia to finish last in Group D (+120, Bet365)

DENMARK (+275, -300)

Christian Eriksen’s terrifying medical issue largely derailed Denmark’s 2020 Euros campaign, but he’s back and primed to inspire a strong showing from his nation in Qatar. Denmark are being vastly underrated in advance of the tournament, lacking the same name-brand awareness as many of the bigger nations, but this is a supremely talented side with legitimate semifinal potential in the right draw. They are very well structured, and the spine is strong with an impressive group in the defensive and midfield thirds. The one concern comes in attack, where some key figures haven’t been getting many minutes at the club level. It’s still a very talented group though, and if just one or two can hit form, the Danes will be primed for a deep run in this tournament. 

Bet: Denmark to win Group D (+275, Bet365)

FRANCE (-250, -1000)

The 2018 World Cup winners have been dealt a favorable enough draw to stave off the curse of defending champions failing to make it out of the next group stage, but do not buy into the hype surrounding France. Les Bleus are without midfield stars Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, defender Presnel Kimpembe, and forward Christopher Nkunku. While there are capable replacements available, most notably Real Madrid duo Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga in midfield, Didier Deschamps’ side are already looking shaky. Recent form is a legitimate concern – W1, D2, L3 in the 2022 Nations League – and lack of cohesion among the squad is worrisome, centered around the increasingly difficult to tolerate Kylian Mbappe. The talent is there, but there are serious red flags which will limit their success in Qatar. Second place in Group D means a likely date with Lionel Messi and Argentina in the Round of 16, which will not end well for Les Bleus.

Bet: Under 9.5 goals (+110, DraftKings); France to be eliminated in last 16 (+450, Bet365)

TUNISIA (+1600, +350)

Unlike Australia, Tunisia should be able to be at least competitive in Group D. The African outfit are very difficult to break down, led by a very capable back line featuring Montassar Talibi (a fixture at the back for Lorient in Ligue 1 this season) and Dylan Bronn (a key piece of Salernitana’s defense in Serie A). Koln midfielder Ellyes Skhiri, who could start for a lot of teams at this World Cup, will provide excellent cover for the back line and pull the strings for Tunisia on the counter from a deep-lying role. He’ll be joined in midfield by a deep group, including teenage starlet Hannibal Mejbri who’s turning heads in Birmingham, impressive Brondby youngster Anis Slimane, and Ferencvaros’ Aissa Laidouni, who impressed in the Europa League and netted twice in Champions League qualifiers. That’s a very stable base for the African outfit, to pair with an experienced attack led by Wahbi Khazri, Naim Sliti, and Youssef Msakni. While Tunisia will be hard-pressed to make it out of the group, I’ll be looking to back them to beat Australia, and give France and Denmark all they can handle. 

Bet: Tunisia draw no bet vs. Australia (-104, Bet365); Tunisia -0.5 vs. Australia (+195, Coolbet)

Group E

COSTA RICA (+5000 to win group, +800 to qualify)

It’s fair to say Costa Rica wouldn’t have qualified for the World Cup if the Intercontinental Playoff draw unfolded differently, but by virtue of scraping by a bad New Zealand team and lucking out a win against 10-man Canada in a match they were dominated in, Los Ticos are headed to Qatar. Similar to Mexico, this is the worst Costa Rica squad we’ve seen in a long time. While past teams have had talented players scattered throughout Europe’s top leagues, the current edition is shockingly bereft of quality. It’s the World Cup swansong for the old guard – Oscar Duarte (33), Bryan Oviedo (32), Celso Borges (34), and Bryan Ruiz (37) – and while they will relish the scene, their joy will be short-lived. Drawn into a very difficult group, Costa Rica will do well to score in Qatar, let alone register a point.

Bet: Costa Rica to finish with 0 points (+150, Bet365/Fanduel)

GERMANY (+110, -800)

Germany could prove one of the more exciting sides in Qatar, pairing a deep and dynamic attack with a very vulnerable back line. Their 36 goals were second-most in UEFA qualifying, and the scoring hasn’t dried up since, netting five against Italy and three against England in the Nations League. They’ve been trending up since a disastrous display at Russia 2018 and should be able to score their way into the knockouts, but don’t have a strong enough foundation to be taken seriously as legitimate contenders. 

Bet: Serge Gnabry to lead Germany in goals (+600, Bet365)

JAPAN (+1400, +375)

The Samurai Blue were unlucky not to secure a quarterfinal berth in 2018, but are quickly being counted out with Germany and Spain accompanying them in Group E. This is a disciplined, battle-tested, and energetic group, with quality in all three phases. They excel at frustrating their opponent with good ball pressure and are thrilling and clinical on the break. Midfielder Daichi Kamada can make himself a household name in Qatar if he can continue his league form, while youngsters Ritsu Doan and Takefusa Kubo will prove a nightmare for opposing defenders. They trounced Ghana and Paraguay 4-1 in friendlies this year, while narrowly losing 1-0 to Brazil on a late penalty. This is not a side to take lightly, as another knockout stage appearance isn’t nearly as out of reach as the market suggests, while a potential last-16 clash with a Group F opponent isn’t terrifying either.

Bet: Japan to qualify (+375, Bet365); Japan to be eliminated in the quarterfinals (+1600, Bet365; DraftKings)

SPAIN (-120, -900)

While there are still some experienced and accomplished players travelling to Qatar, La Roja are largely bringing a very young squad with them to the tournament. The range of outcomes for Spain is incredibly wide – everything from a semifinal place to being dumped out in the group stage. On their day Spain could beat anyone, but they’re also prone to lethargic performances which will see them punished quickly against the likes of Germany and Japan. This isn’t a team I’m rushing to the window to bet one way or the other, but I’m a tad concerned to see an incredibly young attack – Ansu Fati (20), Ferran Torres (22), Yeremy Pino (20), Nico Williams (20) – go up against a trio of very experienced back lines. 

Bet: Spain not to qualify (+650, Pinnacle)

Group F

BELGIUM (-163 to win group, -600 to qualify)

Belgium are not the same threat they were heading into Russia 2018 when they reached the semifinals. The squad is thinner and their form has significantly dropped off – they’ll do very well to replicate that performance. Similar to Germany, their shortcomings at the back will prove too much to overcome, with the old guard well past their prime and insufficiently replaced in the team. They’re no longer as deep in attack, but Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku are more than enough to strike fear into any defense. An early exit is unlikely, though not as much as the market suggests in a tricky group to navigate. Group F could get nuts.

Bet: Belgium to be eliminated in the group stage (+550, DraftKings)

CANADA (+1200, +300)

A terrific qualifying campaign not only saw Canada secure a second-ever World Cup berth – and first since 1986 – but also finish first in CONCACAF. The Red and White boast a few world class talents that truly separate them from other long shots in Qatar, but the squad thins out quick. The likes of Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David, Tajon Buchanan, and Stephen Eustaquio will have to be at their best to give Canada a chance of progressing in a difficult Group F, but the back line is really lacking and will struggle to keep out a trio of teams that pack quite an attacking punch. It also remains to be seen just how much of Canada’s terrific qualifying campaign had to do with the fact that CONCACAF’s traditional giants are weaker than they’ve been in close to 20 years. Time will tell, but given their attacking acumen and defensive frailties, we’ll have a lot of fun finding out. 

Bet: Canada/Belgium over 2.5 (-128, Coolbet)

CROATIA (+225, -225)

Claims that Croatia are over the hill are completely unfounded, as they head to Qatar with another very strong squad after reaching the final in Russia. Luka Modric (37), Ivan Perisic (33), and Dejan Lovren (33) are likely at their last World Cups, while Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic are gone, but Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic are still on the right side of 30, and the crop of young players replacing the old guard provide plenty of reason for optimism. Josko Gvardiol is an absolute stud in the centre of defense, Luka Sucic offers plenty of promise, Mario Pasalic is primed for a big World Cup debut, while Lovro Majer and Nikola Vlasic offer excellent attacking support from midfield behind an experienced group up top. It won’t be straightforward, but throw Croatia by the wayside at your own peril.

Bet: Croatia to be eliminated in last 16 (+140, DraftKings)

MOROCCO (+1000, +200)

Post-hype sleepers Morocco ironed out the issues involving their unsettled stars and bring a full compliment of players with them to Qatar. They impressed in their return to the World Cup in 2018 despite it not being reflected in the results and are better positioned at making a push for the knockouts in 2022. Unlike Canada and Belgium, Morocco are very strong at the back with PSG’s Achraf Hakimi and Bayern’s Noussair Mazraoui – one of the best full-back tandems at this World Cup – bookending Nayef Aguerd and captain Romain Saiss. They’re well-rounded in midfield, though the loss of Amine Harit to a knee injury is a big blow. But the biggest difference for Morocco this time around, in addition to experience, is the presence of a proven goal threat up top. An inability to convert a wealth of chances proved their undoing in 2018, but that will change with Youssef En-Nesyri leading the line. The Sevilla striker was young and unproven in Russia – though he scored in his lone appearance off the bench – but comes to Qatar with a strong track record of scoring in Europe’s top competitions. Despite a difficult draw, Walid Regragui’s side have every reason to believe a knockout berth is within reach. 

Bet: Morocco to qualify (+225, Pinnacle); Morocco to win Group F (+1052, Pinnacle)

Group G

BRAZIL (-275 to win group, -900 to qualify)

It goes without saying, but Brazil are fully deserving of their No. 1 world ranking and the title of World Cup favorites. Heading into the tournament on the back of a 15-match unbeaten run (W12), the Selecao have world class talent that can’t even crack the starting XI. Their reserve team would be short of 10-1 to win the tournament. It’s all on Tite to get the selection right, but this is the best squad world football top to bottom, and anything shy of a place in the final would be considered a disappointment. 

Bet: Brazil to reach the semis (+110, Bet365/DraftKings)

CAMEROON (+2000, +350)

The Indomitable Lions were done no favors by the draw. A gauntlet of opponents in the group stage will make progression very difficult, while recent form doesn’t inspire confidence in a surprise performance. Cameroon have failed most of their tests since qualifying, losing to Uzbekistan and South Korea, while drawing Jamaica in recent friendlies. Frank Anguissa didn’t play in those matches and his presence in midfield will be a massive boost, but they’re short on talent in the middle of the park beyond him, while the back line leaves plenty to be desired. Bryan Mbuemo, Karl Toko Ekambi, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, and Vincent Aboubakar highlight an exciting attack, but will there be enough service up top for them to feast upon? Cameroon should be good for one surprise but will largely be dominated in the middle of the park in each group match – hardly a recipe for success.

Bet: Cameroon to concede the most goals in Group G (-125, Coolbet)

SERBIA (+600, +110)

Starved of success on the international stage, Serbia head to Qatar in outstanding form. The Eagles went unbeaten in qualifying (W6, D2), including two very impressive performances against Portugal, and followed that up by going unbeaten in Nations League (W5, D1). Led by the terrifying duo of Dusan Vlahovic and Aleksandar Mitrovic in attack, with the incredibly crafty Dusan Tadic and Filip Kostic carving out the chances, goals won’t be an issue. The terrific Sergej Milinkovic-Savic will marshal a very experienced midfield, while Fiorentina’s Nikola Milenkovic and burgeoning Salzburg star Strahinja Pavlovic will be the centerpieces of a back three. There’s a ton to like about the makeup of this team, which not only will have their sites set on advancing out of the group for the first time ever, but also making a Cinderella run deep into the knockout stages. 

Bet: Serbia and Brazil to advance from Group G (+137, Bet365)

SWITZERLAND (+450, -110)

If not for a pair of missed Jorginho penalties in qualifying, it’s very possible we’d be talking about Switzerland watching this World Cup from the comfort of their living rooms for the first time since 2002. Can they make the most of this gift? The Swiss are largely the same unit as we’ve come to know them as for the past decade – steady, not spectacular, but exciting on their day. They boast an experienced side with plenty of familiarity among the ranks, are disciplined defensively and combative in midfield, while being led by the young duo of Noah Okafor and Breel Embolo in attack. Both are in good form, but are they capable of rising to the occasion in a difficult group? 

Bet: Switzerland not to qualify (-115, Pinnacle)

Group H

GHANA (+1600 to win group, +300 to qualify)

The lowest-ranked nation at the World Cup, Ghana are fully capable of surprising. While not as deep as the 2010 team that reached the quarterfinals, the Black Stars are very capable in all three phases. Mohammed Salisu anchors a Premier League-laden defense, Thomas Partey and Mohammed Kudus headline a skilled midfield, and there are no shortage of options in attack with the veteran Ayew brothers joined by prolific Bilbao striker Inaki Williams and exciting Rennes winger Kamaldeen Sulemana. The group is very difficult, and an early exit is likelier than not, but their youthful energy against a weakened Uruguay squad does open a path to the knockouts for the Black Stars. You can get a much better price on Ghana to beat Uruguay than you can backing them to qualify, which they will likely need to do in order for the latter to happen, so that’s the route I prefer to take here.

Bet: Ghana -0.5 vs. Uruguay (+413, Pinnacle)

PORTUGAL (-163, -550)

Finishing behind Serbia in qualifying, Portugal needed wins over Turkey and Macedonia in a playoff to reach the World Cup, which is a fitting representation of what this team is. Loaded with world class talent, they’re far too inconsistent for a team with this much quality. In a difficult group, Portugal could face a surprise early exit, or make a run all the way to the finals. Whether off-pitch distractions centered around Cristiano Ronaldo will have an impact remains to be seen, but the likely inclusion of the 37-year-old in the starting XI is a direct impediment to their chances. Keeping Ronaldo on the bench is in Portugal’s best interests, and while it’s fairly unlikely he’s limited to a substitute’s role, it’s still worth a small flier at a big price on this star-studded squad hitting form and making a deep run in the competition.

Bet: Portugal to reach semifinal (+275, DraftKings)

SOUTH KOREA (+1000, +225)

South Korea’s stunning upset of Germany in 2018 lives long in the memory, but lost in it is the fact that they lost both their first two matches to Sweden and Mexico. The group only gets tougher this time around. Heung-min Son and Min-jae Kim highlight a feisty, if not exciting, group, but one that lacks the depth required to pull of a shock. Son’s eye injury is a bit of a concern, as he will likely have to shoulder the burden in attack with strikers Hee-chan Hwang and Ui-jo Hwang playing very little at the club level this season. However, 21-year-old Mallorca attacking midfielder Kang-in Lee is piecing together a terrific campaign thus far and will be a true X-factor for this team. In a different group they’d certainly make things interesting, but it’s hard to see them doing enough here to push through to the knockout stage.

Bet: South Korea under 2.5 points (+115, Pinnacle)

URUGUAY (+200, -250)

Uruguay’s golden generation gets one last push for glory in Qatar, but the question marks surrounding this team are plentiful. Is it even possible to replace Ronald Araujo in defense? Do 35-year-olds Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani have much left to give? Is Darwin Nunez able to pick up the slack? Jose Gimenez, Rodrigo Bentancur, and the sensational Federico Valverde still give the Celeste a strong base from which to build off, but there are cracks in the armor for a nation that had legitimate World Cup aspirations in 2010, 2014, and 2018. The ceiling isn’t nearly as high this time around, and while failing to progress to the knockouts would be a big disappointment, it might not be as huge a shock as it would be made out to be given the quality of opposition. 

Bet: Uruguay not to qualify (+183, Pinnacle)

Group stage predictions


Knockout stage predictions

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Best bets:

  • Ecuador to finish last in Group A (+333, Bet365)
  • Netherlands to reach the quarterfinal (-138, Bet365)
  • USA to finish last in Group B (+500, Bet365)
  • Iran and England to advance from Group B (+700, Bet365)
  • Lautaro Martinez to win the Golden Boot (+2500, Bet365)
  • Poland to qualify (+100, Pinnacle)
  • Australia to finish last in Group D (+120, Bet365)
  • Lowest-scoring team: Australia (+1400, Bet365)
  • Denmark to win Group D (+275, Bet365)
  • France to be eliminated in last 16 (+450, Bet365)
  • Costa Rica to get exactly 0 points (+150, Bet365/Fanduel)
  • Morocco to qualify (+225, Pinnacle)
  • Brazil to reach semifinal (+110, Bet365/DraftKings)
  • Serbia to qualify (+120, Fanduel/DraftKings)

Bonus H2H bets:

  • Argentina to progress further than France (-118, Coolbet)
  • Brazil to progress further than France (-125, Coolbet)
  • Canada to score more goals than USA (+130, Coolbet)
  • Canada to score more goals than Mexico (+225, Coolbet)
  • Denmark to score more goals than Belgium (+198, Coolbet)
  • Germany to score more goals than France (+135, Coolbet)
  • Netherlands to score more goals than Belgium (-105, Coolbet)