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Achraf Hakimi
Katie Stratman
Odds and Ends

World Cup: Time to sweat out an under

by Brad Thomas
Updated On: November 22, 2022, 6:48 pm ET

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Um, excuse me? Did I really wake up at 5 a.m. to see not only Lautaro Martinez's goal get disallowed due to VAR but Argentina lose outright to Saudi Arabia? Yes, that really happened. In all honesty, just like Adrián Bonner, I got cooked today. Brings our World Cup article bets to 1-2. An unfortunate series of events kept us from dining with the kings. Instead, we are forced to boil up our best Top Ramen and get on with the day. The good news about the opening week of the World Cup is that after you get knocked on the mat, you can dust yourself off and bet on games the next day. I pretty much have action in all three games. Bets that might be sweaty and one that I am very confident in. As always, be sure to shop your lines.

Morocco vs. Croatia (Wednesday, 5 a.m. ET) | Germany vs. Japan (Wednesday, 8 a.m. ET)

Bet: Parlay: Morocco u2.5 goals + Germany over 1.5 goals (-106) 0.5un

Bet: Musiala to score or get an assist at (-125)

You can't bet all day if you don't start in the morning. For us, it's the 5 a.m. game. In full transparency, I played under 2.0 goals at +111 for the Morocco match for 0.5 units and the parlay. This is a match that legitimately can finish 0-0. In the FIFA Arab Cup, they were sound in defense. They shut out four of the five opponents they played. They were also stout in defense in their World Cup Qualifiers and Nations League. They are led by one of the best defenders, full-back Achraf Hakimi. At times, they lacked creativity in the final third. Through AFCON and friendlies, they struggled to score against quality opponents.

Morocco's struggles in front of net will likely continue against a tactically sound Croatia side. Their strength comes from their midfield. Mateo Kovacic, Luka Modric, and Macelo Brozovic help control the game's pace; generally, the pace they like is slow. Slow and compact, always maintaining their shape, is a philosophy that has worked for them. Without much creativity in the attack, they want to win games that are ground out with few opportunities for their opponents—making me feel comfortable backing the under in this match.

The second leg of the parlay is from the Germany and Japan match. I like goals here a lot. This is Hansi Flick's first World Cup with Germany, and I expect them to do just like T.C. Williams High School did in Remember, the Titans, “Blitz all night!” This is a statement game for Flick and company. The high press should be put to good use. With the brilliance of Sarge Gnabry and Jamal Musiala, this team should have no problem finding the back of the net against Japan. Their tempo and the high line often leave them vulnerable to counters and quality attacks from the opposition. I'm not saying Japan score for sure, but I like my chances of clear goal-scoring opportunities happening against this squad. I also like the full game over, which makes over 1.5 goals a worthy parlay piece.

Piggybacking on the brilliance of the German players, specifically Musiala, I have to find a way to bet on it. I am backing Musiala to score or get an assist at -125. The 19-year-old German international is lighting up the Bundesliga this season. Through 14 matches, he's already scored or assisted on 15 goals. Even his advanced metrics suggest that what he's doing is not a fluke. He's got an npxG + xAG (expected non-penalty goal + assisted goal) of 0.64 per game and is averaging 1.06 per game. This game against Japan has the makings of a blowout. Please give me all the shares of Musiala.

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Belgium vs. Canada (Wednesday, 2 p.m. ET)

Bet: Both teams to score (-110) 2 units

If you caught me on the BetMGM-sponsored BetQL show on Tuesday, I was asked what I looked for when betting on the World Cup. It's a tough tournament, but one thing that generally remains true in soccer, regardless of the competition, poor backlines generally concede goals. This game, I am attacking the backline of Belgium. The 33 and 35-year-old defenders, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, man the backline, and I expect this aggressive Canadian team to give them issues.

The best news for this Canadian squad is the Bayern Munich superstar Alphonso Davies is fully fit to start Canada. Him, in addition to JohNathan David, Cyle Larin, and Tajon Buchanan, should be able to net one against Belgium. Through qualification, they were brilliant in front of goal. They are a team who can contend in this group.

There's not much that ought to be said about Belgium. They have one of the best players in the world in, Kevin De Bruyne. His brilliance alone is almost enough to will his team to the back of the net. Belgium is the second-ranked team per FIFA. They get one on Wednesday, and we cash our two-unit bet.




Brad Thomas

Brad is a sports handicapper who is lucky enough to write about his true love; sports. "We may all root for different teams, but our objective remains the same… Beat the books! Remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint." Follow Brad on Twitter @MrBradThomas.