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World Cup preview and betting guide

The World Cup is fast approaching and ahead of Qatar 2022 we’ve provided a preview and betting guide for the finals this winter.

It will be an unprecedented tournament held in the Middle East during the winter months, with the mid-season break providing a unique feel for world football’s biggest event.

Golden Boot winner

The World Cup’s Golden Boot is a prestigious individual honour and some of world football’s finest forwards will take to the stage in Qatar.

Harry Kane won the award as the leading scorer in Russia four years ago and the England captain is favourite to make it back-to-back accolades (7/1). Kane will become England’s record goalscorer should he net three goals at the finals, though no player has ever won more than one FIFA World Cup Golden Boot.

Kylian Mbappe (8/1) is second favourite as France look to defend the trophy, while Cristiano Ronaldo – who won the Golden Boot at Euro 2020 – is level with Lionel Messi at 14/1. For those looking for longer odds, Robert Lewandowski (33/1) and Lautaro Martinez (25/1) might be worth a punt. The latter has scored 21 goals in 40 appearances for Argentina and could lead the line for the South Americans in Qatar.

  • Cristiano Ronaldo – 14/1
  • Lionel Messi – 14/1
  • Neymar – 12/1
  • Karim Benzema – 12/1
  • Kylian Mbappe – 8/1
  • Harry Kane – 7/1

Player of the Tournament

The World Cup’s Player of the Tournament will win the Golden Ball accolade, currently held by Luka Modric following his role in Croatia’s run to the final in 2018.

Brazil will start the tournament as favourites and will expect Neymar to shine. The 30-year-old has been in sensational form for Paris Saint-Germain so far this season with 15 goal contributions in just eight league starts and is rapidly closing in on Pele’s all-time goal record for the national side.

France are expected to contend with Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema set to fire their charge, while Qatar offers perhaps the last chance for Lionel Messi to win a World Cup. Messi won the Golden Ball in 2014, as Argentina were beaten in the final by Germany.

Curiously, the Golden Ball has not been won by a player on the victorious team since 1994, when Romario claimed the prize following Brazil’s success in the United States. Five of the last six winners have come from the team that has finished as runners-up, with Diego Forlan – a semi-finalist with Uruguay – taking the accolade in 2010.

Potential Dark Horses

Each tournament usually has a dark horse, a team who exceeds all expectations to reach the latter stages. South Korea and Turkey each reached semi-finals in (2002), while few anticipated Croatia would end as runners-up in 2018.

Portugal are perhaps too talented a team to be labelled as a dark horse, but at 12/1 could tempt punters as potential winners. The Portuguese boast brilliant Premier League talent in Ruben Dias, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo, while in Nuno Mendes and Joao Cancelo have arguably the best full-back pairing in the tournament.

Denmark (30/1) reached the semi-finals at Euro 2020 and qualified with ease, while Uruguay (40/1) have a promising core of talent that includes Barcelona’s Ronald Araújo, Real Madrid midfielder Fede Valverde and Liverpool forward Darwin Nunez.

AFCON champions Senegal are priced at 90/1, while Serbia (100/1) have the potential to upset the odds and reach the latter stages. Dragan Stojković’s side topped a group containing Portugal to qualify unbeaten and count Dušan Vlahović, Dušan Tadić and Sergej Milinković-Savić as part of their talented side. Fulham forward Aleksandar Mitrovic finished as the joint-leading scorer in the 2022/23 Nations League and has 48 goals in his last 58 appearances for the national side.

Potential Dark Horses (Odds to win the World Cup)

  • Portugal – 12/1
  • Denmark – 30/1
  • Croatia – 45/1
  • Uruguay – 45/1
  • Senegal – 90/1
  • Serbia – 100/1

World Cup Winners

Brazil are currently 4/1 favourites in Betways World Cup betting markets to win the tournament, as the Selecao look to end a 20-year wait for World Cup success. Tite’s team navigated South America’s notoriously difficult qualification process with ease, ending unbeaten in 17 games with 40 goals scored and just five conceded.

Argentina (13/2) also qualified without defeat, though finished six points behind their great rivals. However, confidence has been increased after ending a 28-year wait for a major trophy with Copa America success last summer. La Albiceleste are unbeaten since 2019 – a run of 35 matches in all competitions. It’s just two short of Italy’s all-time record and has raised belief over a successful tournament in Qatar.

France (6/1) are second favourites and Les Bleus will hope to put up a better defence than the last tournament entered as world champions, after a meek group stage exit in 2002. England – after a semi-final and final appearance in their last two major tournaments – are priced at 13/2.

  • Spain – 15/2
  • England – 13/2
  • Argentina – 13/2
  • France – 6/1
  • Brazil – 4/1

How far will England go?

England will enter the World Cup with ambitions of challenging for the trophy, after reaching the semi-finals four years ago and the final of Euro 2020.

The Three Lions breezed through qualification without defeat, though that has been a familiar process for England in past tournaments before flattering to deceive on the big stage.

Gareth Southgate’s side are also on a six-game winless run, but a group containing Iran, the United States and Wales will expect to be navigated. Should England top that group, Southgate’s side will start a likely last-16 matchup with either Qatar, Ecuador or Senegal as favourites.

England have reached the semi-finals just twice (1990 & 2018) since winning the World Cup in 1996 and have not progressed to a final since that triumph on home soil. The Three Lions have exited in the initial group stage just once since 1958, after a woeful campaign in 2014.

  • Group Stage – 6/1
  • Round of 16 – 11/5
  • Quarter-finals- 12/5
  • Semi-finals – 9/2
  • Runners-up – 15/2
  • Winners – 13/2

Read – Iconic Performances: The night Zinedine Zidane dominated Brazil

Read Also – Ranking the five most viewed World Cup goals of all time on Youtube

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