World Cup Betting
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The first-ever winter World Cup is almost upon us. It is now less than two weeks until the best national teams in the world descend on Qatar and compete for the biggest prize in football.
In this guide, we will look at the tournament from a betting perspective, starting with a dissection of the groups, looking at who can make it out and who might be making an early exit, before moving on to looking at the top goalscorer market, followed by the outright betting.
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the group stages, where teams will be desperate to get off to a good start. If they don’t, the pressure will be on, as there are few second chances when it comes to the FIFA World Cup. A bad opening game could spell the beginning of the end, so a positive start is critical.
In Group A, we have Ecuador, Netherlands, Qatar and Senegal, none of which have ever claimed football’s most prestigious prize.
Group A Winner Odds:
Netherlands – 4/9 (1.44)
Senegal – 4/1 (5.00)
Ecuador – 6/1 (7.00)
Qatar – 16/1 (17.00)
If we look at the betting for Group A, we can see that the Netherlands are heavily favoured to come out on top. They’re currently priced at 4/9 (1.44), and in truth, it’s hard to argue with that. It would be a major surprise if the Dutch failed to win Group A.
Of the other three, who is likely to join the men in Orange in the final 16? In the early betting, Senegal are favourites to qualify behind Holland and can be bet on to do so at odds of 8/11. The Ecuadorians are not far behind, however, at odds of 1/1.
What of the hosts, well, they’re a best price of 11/2 (6.50) to make it through to the knockouts. For many, there’s little chance of that happening, but we shouldn’t dismiss the hosts so soon. After all, they’re the ones surrounded by home comforts. What’s more, the Qatar team has proven that they’re perhaps not the pushovers that many people expect them to be. After all, they won the 2019 Asian Cup, much to the surprise of teams with a supposed greater pedigree, such as South Korea, Japan, and Iran.
It is arguably the Senagalese who look the strongest. Not only do they come into this World Cup off the back of a huge success at the 2021 African Cup of Nations, but they have a strong squad filled with players playing at the highest level of European football. You might even call it a golden generation, and as such, it would be hard to put anybody off taking the 1/1 (2.00) currently available on them qualifying from Group A.
Group A Prediction:
On paper, a pleasing group for England fans, and the bookmakers certainly agree, as the Three Lions will go into their curtain-raiser against Iran as 1/3 (1/33) favourites to win the group.
Group B Winner Odds:
England – 1/3 (1.33)
USA – 11/2 (6.50)
Wales – 11/2 (6.50)
Iran – 16/1 (17.00)
However, Group B could be something of a banana skin for Gareth Southgate’s men, who don’t exactly go to Qatar in fine form. If they don’t get their acts together, then they could very easily be embarrassed.
The USA team certainly isn’t there to make up the numbers, nor are Welsh, who’ve proven incredibly hard to beat in knockout competitions in recent years, reaching the semi-finals at EURO 2016, and the quarter-finals at EURO 2020.
The Iranians are expected to prop the group up, but we shouldn’t be surprised if they perform with credit. After all, they will be playing in familiar conditions, while they recently beat Uruguay and held Senegal to a draw, so perhaps it won’t be the greatest shock if they prove to be a thorn in the side of the group favourites on match-day one.
From a betting point of view, I really like the Welsh to qualify at the best price of 13/10 (2.30). They don’t have a great recent record in terms of pure results, but if we scratch beneath the surface, there’s plenty to like about Rob Page’s men. For starters, four of their last five games have come against either Netherlands or Belgium, and they’ve drawn or lost each of those games by just a single goal, scoring at least once in all four. Such efforts against top teams should leave the Welsh to get seriously competitive in a group that isn’t the hardest.
Group B Prediction:
Another tough group, make no mistake about that. The Argentinians are big favourites, and rightly so. With Messi captaining his last world cup and with a squad full of highly capable talent, the South Americans have an opportunity to go very far, and they should put themselves into the knockouts by winning this group.
Group C Winner Odds:
Argentina – 4/11 (1.36)
Mexico – 9/2 (5.50)
Poland – 11/2 (6.50)
Saudi Arabia – 33/1 (34.00)
It’s probably safe to say that Saudi Arabia won’t follow Argentina out of Group B. Maybe that’s too dismissive, and we shouldn’t expect them to be the whipping boys, as they’ve found a way to stay in the fight in recent games, conceding no more than a single goal in each of their last ten fixtures. They’ve not scored more than once during that time, and that’s a problem, a problem that means they’ll struggle on the biggest stage of all.
If the Argentines confirm favouritism between Poland and Mexico, it could be tight for second place. The betting backs that up, as they’re both 10/11 to qualify. Both have strengths, both have dangermen in their midst. That match-day one clash between the two will be absolutely critical. If either side wins, they’ll be ideally placed to reach the knockouts.
Group C Prediction:
Onto the group that contains the current world champions. France are expected to make it out of Group D with the minimum amount of fuss. They’ll have to get the better of at least two of Denmark, Australia and Tunisia, but given the wealth of talent in their squad, Didier Deschamps’ men should be up to it, at least, that’s what the early betting suggests.
Group D Winner Odds:
France – 4/9 (1.44)
Denmark 11/4 (3.75)
Australia 25/1 (26.00)
Tunisia 25/1 (26.00)
Winning this group will probably be out of Denmark’s reach, but going through in second should be well within the grasp of the Danes. Kasper Hjulmand’s men are ranked 10th in the world by FIFA, while Tunisia and Australia are ranked 30th and 38th, respectively. Now, rankings are not everything, but it would be a surprise if a seasoned tournament side like Denmark falters in this group. Those who fancy a bet on the Danes to qualify from Group D can do so at skinny odds of 2/5 (1.4).
Group D Prediction:
Every World Cup has a group of death, and with Spain and Germany pitted together, Group E has that tag this time around. In terms of the group winner, this is undoubtedly the toughest group to call.
Group E Winner Odds:
Spain – 10/11 (1.91)
Germany – 6/5 (2.20)
Japan – 10/3 (4.33)
Costa Rica – 9/1 (10.00)
The Spaniards are narrow favourites to top Group E, and on recent evidence, that seems about right. They have a strong squad, one that features a blend of youth and experience and one that has performed well against some strong opponents in recent times.
We know that the Germans thrive under tournament conditions, and they too have some top-quality players in their ranks, but this isn’t the Germany of old, and they have undergone something of an identity crisis in recent times, which is perhaps why they are not favoured to top the group. Moreover, they’ve made hard work of winning competitive games over the last year or so.
Both the Japanese and the Costa Ricans could feel a little short-changed here. It’s hard enough to go up against one footbaling superpower in the group stages, but to go up against two makes it almost impossible. The chances of either nation progressing from Group E seem small, which is why bettors can get rather sizable odds on qualification. Japan are currently priced at 10/3 (4.33) to make it through, while Costa Rica come in at 9/1 (10.00) to progress.
Group E Prediction:
Now, Group F may not be a traditional ‘Group of Death’ scenario, but it’s a really interesting group. The Belgians are obviously the chief protagonists, and it is they who’re expected to advance as group winners, as the betting below shows.
Group F Winner Odds:
Belgium – 8/13 (1.62)
Croatia – 5/2 (3.50)
Morocco – 10/1 (11.00)
Canada – 12/1 (13.00)
According to the FIFA Rankings, Belgium are the second-best team in the world, and as such, they’re expected to win Group F. It won’t be easy, though, that’s for sure. As the world saw in 2018, the Croats, who made it to the final in Russia, can deliver big performances on the big stage, and captained by the everpresent Luka Modric, they’ll once again be hard to beat.
The Moroccans have plenty of flair players and could also be hard to face, as the likes of Chile and Paraguay found out recently. Then there’s Canada, the country competing at the World Cup for just the second time. Little is expected of the Canadians, but they impressed massively during qualification, beating both Mexico and USA, so if the big two in this group aren’t on top of their game, they’ll be looking to take advantage.
Group F Prediction:
Another group where one team is expected to dominate. Group G will be home to the outright favourites and five-time World Cup winners, Brazil.
Group G Winner Odds:
Brazil – 4/9 (1.44)
Switzerland – 9/2 (5.50)
Serbia – 11/2 (6.50)
Cameroon – 14/1 (15.00)
Ranked number one in the world by FIFA, Brazil are heavy favourites to win Group G, but Switzerland nor Serbia will be pushovers, while the Cameroonians won’t be going to Qatar to make up the numbers either.
With the Swiss, you’ve got a team who know how to be a nuisance at major tournaments, and they know how to carve themselves a path to the knockout rounds. They’ve made it out of the groups at each of the last two World Cups, as well as at each of the last two European Championships. They’re also ranked as high as 15th by FIFA right now, while they come here having beaten both Portugal and Spain in recent months. All of this is perhaps why they are second favourites behind Brazil to advance from Group F.
The Serbs are no mugs, either. They too can be hard to beat, just ask the likes of Norway, Sweden and Slovenia, all of whom have struggled against Serbia in recent months. That said, they have less experience at this level and, as their own country, have never made it past the group stages at a World Cup.
For Cameroon, it could be a tough set of matches in Group F. Their recent efforts have been poor, while they probably lack the quality to pick up the points needed to seriously threaten to advance to the knockouts.
Group G Prediction:
Onto Group H, which is perhaps the tightest group of all. Portugal and Uruguay will be expected to dominate, and they are the nations in this group with the greatest World Cup pedigree, but they’re by no means unbeatable, so there’s a reason for both the South Koreans and the Ghanaians to fancy their chances.
Group H Winner Odds:
Portugal – 8/11 (1.72)
Uruguay – 2/1 (3.00)
South Korea – 10/1 (11.00)
Ghana – 12/1 (13.00)
Realistically, both Uruguay and Portugal will see this is a group to definitely advance from but who will win it? Portugal are the favourites to come out on top, but they don’t exactly arrive at the World Cup in outstanding form. After all, they failed to score in defeat to both Switzerland and Spain in the recent UEFA Nations League campaign, while they weren’t able to top their qualification campaign.
Uruguay have lost just one game in 2021, while they’ve made a habit of keeping clean sheets in recent times. We know all about how sturdy the Uruguayans can be when it comes to World Cup football, and they have no shortage of quality either, what with Real Madrid’s Federico Valverde, Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez, and Tottenham’s Rodrigo Bentancur, not to mention the legend of Luis Suarez. Don’t be surprised if they top this group, and don’t be scared to take 2/1 on them doing just that.
The South Koreans took a real hit last week when their captain and star player Heung-min Son was ruled out with an injury. Without their leading light, they could struggle to make the necessary impact.
Ghana, however, will see this is a huge opportunity, and you know what, they might surprise a few people, but their task is still a tough one. In a friendly against Brazil recently, their limitations were exposed, while they were also beaten by hosts Qatar in a friendly not that long ago. Such form doesn’t bode well ahead of matches against teams like Uruguay and Portugal.
Onto the individuals, and it’s the big one. Who will pick up the Golden Boot? Of course, much of the focus here will be on the PSG trio of Neymar, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe. If those guys turn up in form and their teams start the tournament well, then there will be little hope for anybody else, and it would be a surprise if the Golden Boot went to somebody outside of that trio.
However, taking the Neymar or the Mbappe route, as viable as it may, is a little boring. If you like to think outside the box and are looking for something at a big price, then consider a bet on Steven Bergwijn for the top goalscorer. Sure, he was frustrated at Tottenham after never really getting a chance, but he’s been in fine form back in the Netherlands this season, and he’s a big part of a forward-thinking Dutch side that will play to his strengths.
Since returning to the Eredivisie with Ajax, Bergwijn has scored seven goals in 12 appearances, while he has also netted five goals in his last eight appearances for the Netherlands. In terms of expected goals from open play, Begwijn also rates in the top 8% of footballers over the last 12 months, while he ranks in the top 1% for goals per 90 minutes, averaging a pleasing 0.70.
If he’s in from the start, the dynamic forward could very easily hit the ground running, and in the group that is far from the toughest, he could set himself on a path to being an unlikely top goalscorer.
Right, time for the big one. Who will win the 22nd renewal of the FIFA World Cup? As things stand, it is the Brazilians who are favourites with the bookmakers, and they’re quite strong favourites at that. Most bookmakers currently have Brazil rated as the favourites.
Here are the full outright odds:
Brazil – 4/1
Argentina – 6/1
France – 7/1
England – 15/2
Spain – 8/1
Germany – 10/1
Netherlands – 14/1
Portugal – 16/1
Belgium – 16/1
Denmark – 33/1
Uruguay – 50/1
Croatia – 50/1
Senegal – 80/1
Serbia – 90/1
Switzerland – 100/1
Mexico – 100/1
Poland – 125/1
Ecuador – 150/1
USA – 150/1
Wales – 150/1
Ghana – 250/1
Cameroon – 250/1
Qatar – 250/1
Morocco – 250/1
Japan – 250/1
South Korea – 250/1
Canada – 350/1
Australia – 350/1
Iran – 500/1
Tunisia – 500/1
Saudi Arabia – 750/1
Costa Rica – 750/1
If there’s one big nation that’s slipped under the radar a little, then it’s the Netherlands. Nobody seems to be talking about the men in Orange, and that lack of expectation could really aid Louis Van Gaal’s men.
It’s been a tough few years for the Dutch, who’ve spent plenty of time in the wilderness since losing the World Cup Final back in 201, but they’re back on the big stage, and they could be back with a bang.
After all, they’ve got a sturdy-looking squad. At the back, there’s Virgil van Dijk, who is arguably the best central defender in the world, to call the shots. What else have they got? Pace and power in abundance, both in the wide areas and upfront. They’ve also been building momentum, going undefeated since September 2021, beating strong teams such as Belgium, who, according to FIFA’s rankings, are the second-best side in the world behind Brazil. The way in which the Netherlands beat the Belgians both home and away in the recent UEFA Nations League campaign pointed towards a side that is ready to tussle with the best on the world stage.
At 14/1, bettors could do far worse than take a small gamble on a nation that has featured in three previous World Cup Finals.
World Cup 2022 Predictions & Betting Tips Summary
These are our best bets ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup:
- Senegal to Qualify from Group A @ 1/1 (2.00)
- Wales to Qualify from Group B @ 5/4 (2.25)
- Uruguay to Win Group H @ 2/1 (3.00)
- Netherlands to Win the World Cup @ 14/1 (15.00)
- Steven Bergwijn Top Scorer @ 66/1 (67.00)