We’ve reached the final stage of our World Cup futures analysis.
After outlining my favorite group futures bets yesterday, today’s focus is all about the tournament futures by which I’m most intrigued. Based on my tournament projections, I’ve settled on a nation to make the quarterfinals and one other to make the semifinals as my pair of best bets.
Does it make me nervous that Brazil will need to (likely) overcome Germany to reach this point? Very much.
However, the Copa America runners-up arguably own the most complete squad in this field of 32. I’ll also be genuinely shell-shocked if Brazil bows out at any point before the quarterfinals, so this market is worth a shot based on that fact alone.
Brazil will open the tournament in Group G alongside Serbia (decent, not great), Switzerland (unpredictable), and Cameroon (potentially dangerous but lacks a reliable attacking threat). Among that group, Brazil — which has won its group in 10 consecutive World Cups — is far and away the best.
At the Copa America, Brazil finished with a +9.2 expected goal differential, including a +2.4 xGDiff in four matches against teams that qualified out of CONMEBOL for the World Cup (Argentina, Peru, Ecuador). That represents the best xGDiff of all the teams in this group that played in a major continental tournament.
From there, they’ll likely face one of Portugal or Uruguay, depending on which slots in as the Group H runner-up. Assuming odds hold and it’s the latter, bettors will feel comfortable knowing Brazil won both World Cup qualification efforts against Uruguay by a 6-1 aggregate margin.
Given I’d have Brazil rated as a favorite to advance over Germany in the quarters, I’ll take +135 now and potentially hedge further down the road. For now, play this market up to +125.
Best Bet #2 – Uruguay to Reach the Quarterfinals (+210, FanDuel)
There’s a bit of betting calculus that informs this bet, so allow me to explain.
There’s really only one realistic path to making this bet a winner and that’s Uruguay stealing Group H from favorites Portugal. Should they go up against Brazil in the round of 16, you can basically kiss this ticket goodbye.
However, I’m not entirely convinced by Portugal, which required two playoff victories to reach the 2022 World Cup. Plus, even though it reached the round of 16 at the European Championships, Portugal only managed a +0.9 xGDiff in three matches against Germany, France, and Belgium.
As for Uruguay, it produced the third-best xGDiff at the 2021 Copa America. Its defense, which is anchored by Diego Godin and Jose Maria Gimenez, also kept four of five opponents under one expected goal per fbref.com. That should come in handy against a Portugal side whose calling card is its attack.
Betting on Sports?
The current odds (+210) give Uruguay an implied 32.2 percent chance to win this group, but I believe their odds should be closer to +175. Based on that edge, I’m willing to take a chance on a Uruguay side that has at least reached the knockouts in three straight World Cups.
For all those reasons, play Uruguay to reach the quarters at +200 or better.