World Cup favorites and betting odds

COMMENTARY

The usual soccer powerhouses top the list of favorites to win this year’s World Cup in Qatar, with DraftKings picking Brazil, Argentina, defending champions France, Spain and England as the top picks. My betting recommendations are a bit more eclectic – see below – but here’s a quick look at the odds of the main contenders:

Brazil (+400 to win; bet $100 to win $400)

The five-time World Cup winners have not lifted the trophy for 20 years and have reached the quarter-finals in three of the last four tournaments, but the South American’s impressive qualifying run (14 wins and three draws without defeat) has a comeback. for glory at the table. The Seleção has arguably the best goalkeeper in the world (Alisson) and a bevy of attacking options, including Neymar, who will be fully healthy for a World Cup for the first time.

It’s the last chance at World Cup glory for 35-year-old legend Lionel Messi, who has made it past the World Cup quarter-finals just once in four attempts with Argentina. The two-time champions are unbeaten in 35 games, a run that includes a triumph over Brazil in the final of Copa América 2021. This time around, Messi is surrounded by talent and plays within a heavy system that suits his game.

As noted below, the reigning champions have had a tumultuous four years since their 2018 triumph in Russia, and no team has successfully defended their World Cup title since Brazil in 1962. But no team featuring Karim Benzema (the most recent winner of the Ballon d’Or, given to the best player in the world at a European club), Kylian Mbappé (only 23 years old and one of the most dangerous goalscorers in the world) and Antoine Griezmann (the smart veteran) will life hard to stop. France’s greatest enemy is France itself.

Manager Luis Enrique wants full respect for his attack first and always attack system: “We always want to be in our opponents’ half and take risks,” he said. But this system doesn’t achieve much without effective finishers and Spain may be lacking in that department. (A lot of expectations are resting on the light shoulders of Pedro, who is 19.) Plus, Enrique’s methods could leave Spain’s defense vulnerable to counterattacks.

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Expectations haven’t been this high for the Three Lions for a long time, but that seems fitting for a team that reached the World Cup semi-finals four years ago and lost to Italy in the Euro 2020 final on penalties. Recent form hasn’t been good, though: England are winless in six UEFA Nations League games this year, losing three and drawing three, although a 3-3 draw with Germany on September 26 was encouraging. Harry Kane is the mainstay, and if he can’t get going, England could struggle.

How to run a World Cup pool

There are a number of compelling options to win the Golden Boot, awarded to the World Cup’s top scorer. Here are the top contenders, again, according to DraftKings.

Harry Kane (England) +700

Kane is the defending Golden Boot winner, having scored six goals four years ago in Russia. He needs three goals to overtake Wayne Rooney as England’s all-time top goalscorer.

Kylian Mbappé (France) +800

Mbappé scored four times in Russia as a 19-year-old and he and Pelé are the only teenagers to score in a World Cup final. He has 190 goals in five-plus seasons for French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain, including 19 in 20 games in all competitions this season.

Lionel Messi (Argentina) +1000

For all his achievements, Messi has only scored six times at the World Cup, with four of those coming in Argentina’s run to the final in 2014. He has never scored in the knockout round.

Neymar has six goals in two World Cup appearances and 15 goals in all competitions for Paris Saint-Germain this season.

Here are the top 12 draft picks on DraftKings as of November 15th.

It can be fun to throw some money on the team you think will win or the top scorer, but there are countless other options to bet on. Here are some bets that I think might be worth it.

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Costa Rica scores fewest goals, +800 (FanDuel)

Of the four Concacaf teams to qualify for the World Cup, the defensive-minded Ticos scored the fewest goals in the final phase of qualifying (13 in 14 games), and they are the only such team without a player on their side. at least three goals in qualifying. Instead, Costa Rica are content to let their opponents press the attack and hope that the defense and goalkeeper Keylor Navas (Paris Saint-Germain) come up big.

You want to pick a team with little hope of advancing to the knockout round when considering this bet, and Costa Rica have to face European titans Spain and Germany plus Japan in Group E. At FanDuel, the odds for a Costa Rica bet of to be eliminated in the group stage are a staggering -2000, which tops every other team’s odds for the same bet by a huge margin.

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Spain under 8.5 goals, -110 (DraftKings)

Spain scored just 15 goals in qualifying, tied with Switzerland for the lowest-scoring UEFA qualifying group winners, and seven of those came in four games against Georgia and Kosovo, the worst teams in Spain’s group. La Roja last surpassed two goals in a game on March 29 against Iceland, and its last three World Cup teams – including the 2010 team that won it all – did not finish with more than eight goals. Ever since David Villa retired in 2019 after scoring a career-high nine goals for Spain at the World Cup, La Roja have lacked a finalist and that – combined with their presence in arguably the toughest World Cup group – can keep the score down.

France eliminated in round of 16, +400 (DraftKings)

The last three defending World Cup champions were knocked out of the tournament in the group stage. In a middling Group D with Denmark, Australia and Tunisia, France should avoid that fate, but Les Bleus are a mess on and off the pitch going into this year’s tournament, and an early knockout stage exit is out of the question. impossible.

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France enter the tournament with just one win in their last six games. Nine players thought to be candidates for the World Cup roster have struggled with injuries and star Kylian Mbappé has battled with the national federation over image rights. There have been cases of sex tape blackmail and allegations of witchcraft-themed threats among players, and the head of the national federation has been accused of sexual harassment. It’s ugly.

Denmark will certainly not be intimidated by France, having beaten Les Bleus twice in the last five months. Finishing runners-up in the group probably means a match with eventual Group C winners and tournament second-favourites Argentina in the round of 16, and that will be no easy task.

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Canada advances to knockout round, +280 (FanDuel)

The Canadians are back at the World Cup for just the second time (and the first time in 36 years), but that doesn’t mean their players lack experience in the spotlight. Jonathan David (Lille), Cyle Larin (Brugge), Stephen Eustáquio (Porto) and Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich) have all played in the Champions League and that experience against the world’s best will carry over into Group F matches against Belgium, Croatia and Morocco.

Finishing ahead of Belgium is perhaps too much to ask, but finishing second is not. Croatia, runners-up four years ago, are stuck between the ages, a combination of age and inexperience that should do them no favours, and Morocco are a distant possibility. Canada finished top of the table in Concacaf qualifying, ahead of continental big brothers the United States and Mexico, and will not be intimidated here.

World Cup Odds (for DraftKings as of November 15)

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