World Cup Betting Guide for Casual Soccer Fans

World Cup Betting Guide for Casual Soccer Fans
© USA Today

If you casually follow soccer and routinely become a fan of once a month every four years for the World Cup, then this betting guide is for you. 

This year’s event takes place in Qatar. Because of the extreme heat in the summer, the tournament was moved to the fall in order to give better playing conditions. The tournament begins on Sunday with Qatar taking on Ecuador.

Here is a betting guide for all of the key storylines set for this year’s World Cup. Keep up with our soccer coverage, with betting odds and other news.

Is Team USA competing in this World Cup?

After missing out on the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the United States returns to Qatar for its 11th World Cup. Before 2018, the U.S. had qualified for six consecutive World Cups before a 2-1 defeat to Trinidad and Tobago ended that streak. 

This group is considered to be the next generation of U.S. soccer. Gone are the familiar names such as Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley. Now, the roster consists of young players who compete in some of the top leagues in the world, including Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic, Dortmund’s Giovanni Reyna and Juventus’ Weston McKinnie. 

The furthest the U.S. has gone in the World Cup came in the first-ever tournament. In 1930, it made it to the semifinals in Uruguay. Since then, a run to the quarterfinals in 2002 in Japan has been the best showing for the Americans. 

Sportsbooks aren’t predicting the U.S. to hoist its first World Cup trophy. At FanDuel, the U.S. is +15000 to win it all. The Americans begin their tournament on Sunday against Wales. For its opener, the U.S. is a +160 favorite, with the draw at +195 and Wales moneyline at +200. 

Who are the favorites?

The traditional world powers top the odds boards at FanDuel with Brazil the overall favorite at +320. 

Argentina is second at +550, while Spain and defending champion France are at +750. 

England, which made a seminal run four years ago, is +800 to win its second World Cup. 

Germany comes in at +1000. 

Are Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi playing?

It could be the final World Cups for two of the all-time greats: Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina’s Lionel Messi. Both enter the tournament with vastly different storylines following them. 

Ronaldo is currently embroiled in a dispute with his club team, Manchester United, claiming it is betraying him and attempting to force him out. United coach Ten Hag claimed Ronaldo refused to come in as a substitute in a loss against Tottenham Hotspur to add more drama.

The situation has ignited talks of when Ronaldo could retire. In a recent interview with Piers Morgan, Ronaldo said he would retire at around 40, meaning this could be the final World Cup for the 37-year-old.

Messi is still one of the world’s best players, recording 11 goals and 10 assists in 18 Ligue 1 and Champions League matches this year. He led Argentina to a Copa America title in 2021 for his first major international tournament championship and will attempt to secure the one trophy that has eluded him. 

Who are the other top players taking part?

Brazil’s Neymar leads the favorites. He also has a chance to overtake Pele’s mark of 77 for most international goals. Neymar enters the tournament with 74. Along with Ronaldo and Messi, it could be Neymar’s final World Cup as well. The Brazillian said he “can’t guarantee playing at the tournament after Qatar.”

France comes in with two of the best forwards in the world, Karim Benzema and Kylian Mpabbe. Griezman won the 2022 Ballon d’Or, making it just the second time in 14 years the award didn’t go to either Messi or Ronaldo. 

Mpabbe introduced himself to the world at the last World Cup as a 19-year-old, scoring four goals and becoming the first teenager since Pele to score in a World Cup final. 

Harry Kane scored the most goals in Russia (six) and is back once again to lead England. 

Who are the favorites for the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball?

If you plan on making a wager on an individual player, make sure you understand if you’re betting on the Golden Boot or the Golden Ball. 

The Golden Ball award is given to whoever scores the most goals in the tournament. Kane is the favorite at +750 and is followed by Mpabbe (+850). Messi (+1100), Neymar (+1200), Benzema (+1400) and Ronaldo (+1900) round out the top six.

The Golden Ball is awarded to the Player of the Tournament. A comparison for the Golden Ball would be the traditional MVP trophy. Messi is the favorite for this award at +750. Neymar is second at +1000, while Mpabbe (+1100), Kevin De Bruyne (+1400) and Benzema (+1400) are the other favorites. 


 

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