What can we expect from the quarter-finals of the 2022 World Cup? Can anyone stop France or Brazil from reaching the finals? Former ESPN senior researcher Paul Carrnow senior director of content for TruMedia and covering his fourth men’s World Cup, host ESPN FC Under Thomas and ESPN broadcaster and analyst Cuff Sheet offer their tips and betting tips.
As we enter the quarter finals, Brazil (+175) seems to be the favorite to win it all. Do you see value in taking anyone else to bring home the World Cup trophy?
Carr: I chose Argentina before the tournament, and nothing has really changed. The price is essentially the same at +550, and Brazil is still a likely opponent in the semi-finals. With Argentina favored (-167 to advance) against the Netherlands, then likely to be the underdog against Brazil and roughly a coin flip in the final, I think there is some of value on the second best team of the tournament.
Thomas: Brazil, by far, are on the easier side of the bracket and have been the most impressive team so far, confirming themselves as favorites to win for the first time since 2002.
cuff: I was on Brazil before a tournament and still think they are the best side. I think Argentina look average, lacking creativity and far too reliant on Messi to win it all. They may not even advance past the Netherlands. On the other side of the bracket, I like France to reach the final and, with their form and value of +400 to win, it’s all good drama.
Kylian Mbappe (-225) is currently the runaway favorite to win the Golden Boot, and with good reason, as he has scored five goals, two more than any other player in the tournament. Is there anyone else you would take to surpass him?
Carr: Lionel Messi (+1200) is the one I would consider. He only has two goals back and has one helper, so he is currently level with Mbappe on the first draw. Even if Argentina lose in the semi-finals, they will play in third place to set the World Cup record for most games played. He takes penalties too of course, so he still has a chance to pile on a few more goals.
Thomas: This might be the boring answer, I’m afraid, but no. Mbappe has been so good and I don’t think he will hold it.
cuff: It’s hard to back anyone else, but Richarlison will be the striker for Brazil in every game, he currently has three goals, and has scored in nine of his last 10 games for Brazil. It’s +850 now. Olivier Giroud (also on three goals) is +1900 and is now the leading goalscorer of all time in French history. It might be worth a spring.
Speaking of France, they have to go through England and then the Morocco/Portugal winner in order to reach the final. Can any of those three teams stop them from reaching that final game?
Carr: I wouldn’t be surprised if any of those four teams make it to the final. None of the other three have France’s ceiling, but England and Portugal are not far behind in attack, and England and Morocco might be better defensively. Morocco have about a one in three chance of reaching Portugal, and probably about the same odds to top France or England, so +1100 for the Atlas Lions to reach the final is not a bad shot as long shot.
Thomas: Portugal looked fantastic against Switzerland and it will be interesting to see if that was an anomaly or if it really is the real deal. If they can play like that consistently, then they could beat France in the semi-finals.
cuff: England is definitely not afraid of France, so that’s no gimme. Portugal has the advantage, which is not small against Morocco. Morocco are impressive, but they are also coming off 120 minutes where bodies were breaking down, compared to a Portugal side who basically had a training session in the second half of their last game. Given that, and what was shown without Cristiano Ronaldo, we can see playing Portugal (+210) to reach the final
Any other props you can think of?
Carr: If you don’t already play Brazil or Argentina to win the title, I don’t mind taking “any South American team” to win the title at +100. I’m not sure there’s a ton of value, since there’s about an 80% chance of one of them making it to the finals, but it’s a fun compromise if you can’t decide between the two.
cuff: As I already said, I like the Brazil-France final, which is my favorite play at +375. However, with the Portugal route mentioned above, Brazil-Portugal (+475) is also solid.