They’ve won more World Cup championships than any other nation, and are always regarded as the most talented team on the planet. But can Brazil live up to the mantle of favorite when the 2022 World Cup kicks off Sunday in Qatar? This World Cup betting preview takes a look.
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In the past four World Cups, the Brazilians have failed to even make the final. Four years ago in Russia, they were eliminated by Belgium in the quarterfinals. Brazil – Loaded with attackers such as Neymar and Vinicius Junior – heads to the Middle Eastern emirate as +350 odds favorite to hoist the gold trophy on Dec. 18, according to bet365 – but still seeking their first World Cup title since winning the 2002 tournament in Japan and South Korea.
Brazil is a -275 favorite to win a group that also includes Cameroon, Serbia and Switzerland, and is a heavy favorite in all three of its preliminary matches: -225 over Serbia on Nov. 24, -200 against Switzerland on Nov. 28, and -400 against Cameroon on Dec. 2, according to bet365. Considering that Brazil hasn’t failed to advance out of group play since 1966, it’s a good bet we’ll see the Seleção in the knockout round – which is where things tend to be problematic, even for the most talented team in the world.
World Cup Betting Preview: Euros Aim To Continue Dominance
European sides have had a stranglehold on the World Cup lately, with Italy, Spain, Germany and France winning the past four tournaments. Of that group, defending champion France has the best odds of winning in Qatar, at +700 according to bet365, thanks to a wealth of returning talent such as Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema. Spain has odds of +800, even if the 2010 champs lack a proven scorer. Germany at +1000 is trying to bounce back from a group stage exit in Russia. And don’t worry about Italy. The proud Azzurri have missed the World Cup for two cycles in a row.
The No. 2 odds favorite behind Brazil doesn’t come from Europe at all – it’s +550 Argentina, the 2014 runner-up. It is unbeaten in 35 straight matches. It is capable of anything with Lionel Messi in blue and white. England, in the midst of a rebirth after reaching the final of Euro 2020 and the semis of the World Cup in 2018, carries +800 odds thanks to the presence of Premier League standouts Harry Kane, Mason Mount and Declan Rice. And then there’s +1400 Netherlands, which has reached the semis in two of the past three World Cups. It will try to make a similar run in Qatar behind Virgil van Dijk.
It’s not unusual to see a squad from outside that group of heavy-hitters crash the semifinals. That was the case with Croatia in 2018, Uruguay in 2010 and Turkey and South Korea in 2002. A leading candidate to play that role in 2022 may be Denmark. It reached the semifinals at Euro 2020 and carries +500 odds of doing the same in Qatar. Simon Kjaer and Joachim Andersen star up front. Another dark horse could be Uruguay. It features a wealth of players from Europe’s top leagues and is +700 to reach the semis.
What About The Americans?
Then there is the United States, back in the World Cup for the first time in eight years. Christian Pulisic of Chelsea leads a young but hopeful squad that carries odds of +450 to reach the quarterfinals for just the third time in team history. It is +1400 to crash the semis and +15000 of shocking the world and winning the whole thing. In a group with powerhouse England and testy Wales, just getting to the knockout stage might be accomplishment enough for the Americans.
And yet, this figures to be a different U.S. squad compared to what we’ve seen in the past. That’s because the majority of American players now compete in Europe’s top leagues. Worse American teams have advanced out of tougher groups (2014 in Brazil). And once out of group play, the U.S. has proven to be a tough out. It has failed by a single goal in each of its past four knockout stage defeats.
Who else is worth watching in Qatar? Wales, the Americans’ opening opponent, has an older but still potential magical attacker in Gareth Bale. The Dragons are +600 to make a run to the quarterfinals. Portugal, +250 to reach the semis, will feature a clearly diminished Cristiano Rolando. It also battles a reputation for underperforming in major events. And then there’s Belgium. It’s potentially the last gasp of its “Golden Generation” of players such as Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard. Belgium +300 to reach the semis.