World Cup predictions, plus expert picks for player awards; tips on how to fill out your Qatar 2022 bracket
Two! Just two more sleeps until the World Cup in Qatar. I’m Mike Goodman and I hope you had a better night’s rest than Sergio Aguero on a plane full of Brazilian fans. You can tell this tournament is definitely having a normal one since as we close in on 48 hours until kickoff the major story continues to be about beer. Now it’s banned from all matches … unless you’re in the luxury boxes and have £19,000 ($22,640) to spend.
Today we’re going to be throwing all the picks you can possibly handle at you. World Cup picks, USMNT picks, picks for Golden Ball and Golden Boot. We’ve got it all. Picks, picks, picks and more picks — and while you’re at it, sign up for our new newsletter covering the beautiful game in all its glory, including daily updates about the World Cup, here.
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⚽ The Forward Line
Why (almost) everybody is picking Brazil or Argentina
Ok, sure, Brazil and Argentina are two of the best teams in the tournament. Brazil are the favorite at +375 with Argentina close behind at +500, according to Caesars Sportsbook, so it’s not that hard to explain. But, on top of that, when you start filling out your wall sheets and doing some “bracketology,” it becomes even clearer that the winner will be one of those two teams.
The two South American powerhouses had relatively favorable draws, putting them in groups where they’re unlikely to be challenged in. Argentina’s stiffest competitor in Group C is either Mexico or Poland, and Brazil’s is either Serbia or Switzerland in Group G. It’s just really hard not to see them both winning their group, which will put them on the same side of the bracket, on a semifinal collision course. And while that makes their paths to the final complicated, it makes it even more daunting for anybody else who lands on that side of the bracket. Anybody not named Brazil or Argentina will have to potentially beat them both just to make the final.
Craving more World Cup coverage? Listen below and follow House of Champions, a daily CBS Sports soccer podcast, bringing you top-notch analysis, commentary, picks and more during the big games in Qatar.
It’s a very real possibility that all four of the tournament favorites could end up on the same side of the bracket. France need to win Group D to avoid it, and they’re paired with a very tricky Denmark side. The winner of Group E, which contains heavyweights Spain and Germany, ends up on that side as well. In fact, there’s really only one team that has relatively short odds that can really like their chances to avoid this brutal half of the bracket: England. As long as they beat the United States, Wales and Iran to the top of Group B, they’ll ensure themselves of the relatively easier path to the final. In related news, guess who I picked to win the World Cup. Yup, England.
And now, all your World Cup picks, all in one place:
🔗 Midfield Link Play
Another day, another World Cup injury
This section of the newsletter is fast becoming the devastating injury report. Today it’s Sadio Mane who’s going to miss the entire tournament after he failed to get healthy in time. And he’s joined on the sideline by Argentina’s Joaquin Correa. The scheduling of this tournament is just absolutely brutal for these players who usually have well over a month to get healthy after the end of the season. And the tournament hasn’t even started yet. With the grueling heat of Qatar and the accelerated pace of matches, there’s a chance the 2022 World Cup becomes more of a battle of attrition than anything else.
Now, let’s hit some links:
💰 The Back Lines
Let’s look ahead to the group stage for the World Cup.
All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.
Group H Winner (Ghana, Portugal, South Korea, Uruguay)
💰 THE PICK: Uruguay (+188). Portugal are the favorites in this group and while they’re a talented bunch, they are, at this point, weighed down by Cristiano Ronaldo. The megastar’s career is clearly in decline but the team, despite a host of talented attackers like Rafael Leao and Bruno Fernandes, insist on running everything through Ronaldo. Portugal are the quintessential worse than the sum of their parts team and Uruguay will take advantage. To Reach the Quarterfinals
💰 THE PICK: England (-175). As we talked about above, England have a potentially easy path in the early parts of this tournament. Argentina and Brazil have similarly cushy draws, but as the favorites, there is less value in picking them than doing it this way. That’s especially true for Argentina, who could have a tricky round of 16 matchup with France in their future. All it takes is for the French to finish second behind Denmark and Argentina to win the group.Stage of Elimination: Mexico
💰 THE PICK: Round of 16 (+150). Do you know the last time Mexico weren’t eliminated in the round of 16? It was 32 years ago in 1990 when they weren’t in the tournament. That’s so long ago that a country that no longer exists (West Germany) won the whole thing. Every tournament since, El Tri have finished exactly in the round of 16. And this time around, they have a group where they have a great chance of finishing second to Argentina and then their most likely round of 16 opponent will be either France or Denmark. Give it up for consistency.