Expert World Cup Soccer Handicapping: Best Team Each Region Props Predictions
The point of the World Cup for teams is obviously to try to win the tournament. Thanks to prop bets, though, there are all sorts of other outcomes that we can bet on - which team will win each group, which teams will advance from each group, how far teams will advance, and so on. One of the most interesting ways to look at things is which team will be the top squad in each geographical region. BetOnline has odds posted, which means we can do some handicapping.
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Top AFC Team
Iran, South Korea, Australia: +350
Saudi Arabia: +1200
This is just a horrible group of teams. To create the eight groups of four teams, the 32 teams entered in the tournament are grouped into four groups of eight - the top seven plus the hosts in Pot 1, the next eight in Pot 2, and so on. Then each group features one team from each of the four pots drawn randomly. Iran is the lowest-ranked team in Pot 3, and the rest are all in Pot 4. So, reasonable expectations would be that none of these teams would advance. Japan is favored here as a decent team in the second-weakest group judging by total world ranking points. Because none of these teams inspire, though, I would lean towards taking a gamble on Saudi Arabia. Group A is lousy, with a weak Russia team, and teams from Egypt and Uruguay that were at the bottom end of their pots, so the Saudis could sneak through to the second round with just a couple of solid games.
Top European Team
This is not all of the teams from Europe - just the interesting ones. The top end here is very strong, with Germany, France and Spain all being top-level contenders (though I don't believe in Spain as much as the other two), and Belgium, England and Portugal capable of putting together a run if everything goes their way. I am a big believer in Germany, but regardless of which of the three elite teams you like there is a good argument to bet these numbers. To be the top European team given the depth and strength, you are likely to have to at least make the finals. Germany is only at +225 at BetOnline to make the finals, with France at +250 and Spain at +350. So in each case you can get a better price betting on what is essentially the same thing. The only way this wouldn't work out this way is if two European teams make the final and the one you bet on loses the last game.
Top African Team
Nigeria, Egypt: +250
This group is barely more inspiring than the AFC. The only difference is that the top end is very tight here - and that's why this isn't an interesting bet. I don't see anything in particular to separate the top three teams, and it would be far from shocking for any of them to advance or to not win a game.
Top South American
Colombia, Uruguay: +800
The easiest part of dealing with this region is dealing with the bottom three teams. Colombia and Uruguay are decent but outclassed, and Peru is just hopeless. Bet then things get really tough. Brazil is currently ranked second in the world, and Argentina is close behind at fourth. Both teams were placed in groups that make it highly likely that they will advance, and both have the talent and experience to do some damage in the elimination round. But both teams have shown that they can disappoint in the face of big expectations at times, too. Either team could win this tournament. Brazil likely has an edge, but it's a small one. This is a tough region to bet for that reason.
Costa Rica: +400
This is the easiest and the least interesting group by far. Thanks to the mess of the CONCACAF qualifying process - largely due to the Americans and their struggles - this group is very weak. Mexico is not a contender by any means, but they are so, so much better than the other two that it's not even close to fair. Costa Rica has a better chance to advance than Panama, but it would be a big upset in either case. Germany is a stone-cold lock to win Mexico's group, but the Mexicans are well placed to finish second and advance - which should be enough for this bet to pay off.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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