The two best picks for the 2022 group stage

After detailing the future predictions for Team USA for the 2022 World Cup, we’re on the field as a whole today.

We will begin with our analysis of the various group futures markets available for the tournament. Bettors interested in these markets usually find two different markets available – to win the group and advance from the group.

The first is just a bet on the country that will finish at the top of its group while the “Progress” bet is cashed if the team finishes also first or second.

For me, I’m choosing to focus on my husband’s ex-market from playing for four months until the tournament begins. All possibilities come courtesy of Fanduel Sportsbook and are reflective at the time of writing.

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Best Bet #1 – Barlay: Argentina win Group C, Belgium win Group F (+135)

Argentina will reach South American champions Qatar after winning the Copa America in 2021.

While there is certainly talent in their group – Robert Lewandowski can easily lead Poland to a strong finish while Mexico have solid pieces throughout – Argentina is undoubtedly the best in this group. Dating back to June 2021, Argentina have not lost a match yet and finished with the highest xGDiff in the Copa America (+9.3), per fbref.com.

Additionally, in just three Copa America matches against his World Cup qualifier teammates, Argentina were 3-0 and generated nearly 1.7 xG/90 minutes in those three matches. This will be a key factor for Argentina when they win the third set.

Messi and Argentina won the America's Cup.
Messi’s highlight of the year was finally winning a major international trophy after leading Argentina to the Copa America.
Reuters

As for Belgium, I’m choosing not to overthink this group. Realistically, Croatia is their biggest contender to win the group and have been incredibly disappointing in the European Championship.

Of all 32 teams, the 2018 World Cup finalists ended up with the fifth-worst expected goal difference in the tournament. In addition, in the last two head-to-head meetings, Belgium were 2-0-0 against the Croats.

Although Belgium has a lot of issues of its own, it should be navigating through this group comfortably. In addition, it should be noted that Belgium has won its group in three consecutive major tournaments. As a result, coach Roberto Martinez’s side should be a safe bet to finish top of Group F.

Best Bet #2 – Denmark to win Group D (+280)

France, the World Cup holders, is currently the favorite to win this group. However, I give Denmark a better percentage chance than their implied odds would suggest.

In the 2021 European Championship, Denmark already finished with a better expected goal difference than France, albeit with two more games played. Moreover, these parties actually faced each other not so long ago (June 3, 2022), as Denmark scored a 2-1 victory over France.

Even more impressive, this victory came at the Stade de France. These two sides will meet again in Denmark in late September, and the outcome of the other Denmark could turn the odds.

Sports betting?

Let’s also not forget that Denmark’s attack has proven to be very prolific in the European Championships. Before its head-to-head meeting with England, which has established itself as a Danish kryptonite, the Danes made a projected 1.8 goals per 90 minutes with only 0.9 xG/90 minutes allowed, per fbref.com.

This kind of metric should allow Denmark to increase the score against Tunisia and Australia. Add to that that Denmark dominated the World Cup qualifiers – 8-1-0 (WLD) with a goal difference of +27 – and I would play it at +225 or better to win this group.

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