So let’s now focus on the real meat and bones of World Cup betting; the outrights.
Starting with two potential winners, just a second South American winner since the turn of the millennium looks a strong bet and both Brazil and Argentina hold persuading cases. The latter arrive in Qatar as Copa America winners from last year and have gone 35 games without defeat. With Lionel Messi set for a World Cup swansong and retaining sheer quality throughout their ranks, many feel Argentina’s time may finally have come. Equally, in the case of Brazil, Argentina are the only side to hand defeat to the Selecao in the past three years. You can still get Brazil to win the tournament at 4/1 with SkyBet and new bookie Midnite, whilst Argentina are 11/2 across the board. To reach the final, both teams are 5/2 and 4/1 respectively with Bet365.
What of England’s chances? Having suffered Nations League relegation, uncertainty hangs over the Three Lions. Without a win in six games and having lost half of those contests, England’s quality cannot be refuted but Gareth Southgate’s men have been lacking for the majority of 2022. Currently fifth favourites though, England have reached the last four of the past two major comps and to repeat that feat are a best price of 19/10 with Coral.
On the other hand, whilst a Group containing Iran, USA and Wales – on paper – may look one to easily negotiate but we have a feeling it won’t be so straightforward. It is unthinkable to ponder England crashing out early and failing to reach the knockouts. Right? A punt at 8/1 with QuinnBet and Bet365 might yet be worth a bob or two.
Holders France, meanwhile, are again amongst the favourites to retain their crown; but the picture may not be as clear-cut. Indeed, like England, France dropped down to League B of the Nations League recently and have won just a one of their last six, losing three. It is well worth remembering also, that the last time France entered the World Cup as defending champions, a shock exit in the Group stages followed. Could history repeat 20 years on ? Ladbrokes will offer you similar 8/1 odds.
For a tournament dark horse meanwhile, The Netherlands could suit. Twice runners-up in 1974 and 1978, 12 years ago in South Africa the Oranje fell short in the final once more but with few people having the Dutch on their betslip, could 2022 finally be their year? With a strong spine of Frenkie De Jong, Mathias De Ligt and Memphis Depay, Holland are unbeaten since surprise Euro 2020 last 16 exit to the Czech Republic. A few bucks may well be had on unlikely Dutch glory at 14/1 with PaddyPower, or to reach the last four at 11/4 with Betfred.
As far as the Golden Boot goes, Harry Kane is favourite at 17/2 with UniBet, despite concerns over fatigue. Kylian Mbappe follows close by at 10/1 at BetUK, whilst Messi and Neymar come in at 11s and 13s respectfully with SportingIndex. After a long shot? Angel Di Maria may be worth a ponder. Netting twice against the UAE in midweek , the Juve man is now fully fit and importantly, fresh. A regular scorer for his country and with Argentina set to go deep in Qatar, Di Maria’s 200/1 price with UniBet looks well worth a small gamble.
Finally for now, taking a look at the African contingent in Qatar, AFCON champions Senegal’s hopes have been dealt a hammer blow with the news Sadio Mane is out of the tournament. With four other nations from the continent taking part, we might be persuaded to now look at Morocco instead. Though Group F looks a tough assignment with Belgium, Croatia and Canada, The Atlas Lions themselves hold a decent threat and could surprise. To finish Top African Team, Morocco are 10/3 with BoyleSports.