World Cup Betting Guide for Wednesday 11/23/22: Can Germany and Belgium Win and Cover?
We all know that the World Cup doesn’t come around every year, and that can make for some difficult projecting.
Team qualifying samples are small, injuries are crucial, and opponent adjustments must be made before projecting out World Cup matches.
Thankfully, we have ways to do that, and numberFire’s World Cup betting model offers up game-specific projections for each stage of the World Cup.
Here are the best bets for World Cup action on Wednesday, November 23rd.
(Note: all records are listed in win-loss-draw format rather than win-draw-loss; FIFA world rankings are in parenthesis.)
Croatia (12) vs. Morocco (22)
Morocco tore through CAF qualifying by going 6-0-0 and scoring 20 goals and letting up just one, though my data does have them with the weakest average opponent during qualifying of any team in the World Cup.
Adjusting for opponent strength, however, Morocco is still sitting at a +2.23 in adjusted goal differential. It's one thing to play weak opponents, but Morocco didn't let any of them linger and won each game by at least two goals.
They’re far from favorites but -- at +25000 -- they are not a complete afterthought in the betting markets. Morocco holds +200 odds to advance from Group F, besting Canada (+280) and trailing Croatia (-270) and Belgium (-550).
Croatia held a +17 goal differential over 10 qualifying matches (W7-L1-D2) while scoring 21 goals and letting up just 4. Adjusting for opponents, I have them at a +1.56, actually, but they are entering off the back of a W4-L1-D1 stint during the UEFA Nations League.
The only preferred pick here by numberFire's model is the Croatia moneyline (+110), which is a four-star play. The algorithm here has their win odds at 65.6%.
We can also justify the over (2.5 goals) at +142 odds; my model has the expected odds there at +110.
Japan (24) vs. Germany (11)
As expected, Germany dominated qualifying (W9-L1-D0) with a 36-4 total goal differential. Their lone loss, 2-1 to North Macedonia, came back in March 2021. They avenged that loss with a 4-0 win over North Macedonia in October 2021.
Group E features two heavy favorites -- Germany (-750 to advance) and Spain (-950). Japan (+300) and Costa Rica (+1100) will need some World Cup magic to advance.
Japan went 8-0-0 in qualifying with a 46-2 goal differential. Accounting for opponents, their adjusted goal differential is +2.42 in my model. (Germany's was a +2.85 through qualifying.)
In recent friendlies, Japan beat Paraguay (4-1) and the United States (2-0) and played Brazil to a 1-0 loss. They also tied with Ecuador. On the 17th, they played Canada and lost 2-1.
numberFire's model likes Germany's moneyline (-230) and for them to cover (-1.0 at +120 odds).
Costa Rica (31) vs. Spain (7)
Spain is favored heavily (-700) against Costa Rica, a substantial spread for one of the World Cup favorites (+850 championship odds).
Spain outscored opponents 15-5 over eight qualifying matches (W6-L1-D1 overall) with an adjusted goal differential of "just" +1.66. In the UEFA Nations League, they were 3-1-2 between June and September.
Over 16 qualifying-round matches, friendlies, and UEFA Nations League matches, Spain has scored more than two goals in just three of them. They scored twice in five, and they scored once in the remaining eight. They allowed two goals three times, one goal five times, and zero goals in eight.
Costa Rica qualified through the CONCACAF-OFC playoff by beating New Zealand 1-0. They recorded multiple goals in just four qualifying-round matches.
With Spain so heavily favored in this match (-700), there's not too much to like. But the best play here is rating out as under 2.5 goals (+124).
I also have Costa Rica's odds of going scoreless at -250, in line with their actual odds, so they're a big factor pushing us toward the under. numberFire's model also has the under (2.5) as a five-star play.
Canada (41) vs. Belgium (2)
Our model loves Belgium and ranks them fifth entering the World Cup. Canada is 25th. Those ranks, though, are better than the FIFA World Rankings.
Belgium went W6-L0-D2 in UEFA section qualifying, led by five goals from Romelu Lukaku, who won't dress for this match.
Adjusting each side's qualifying matches for opponent strength, I have Belgium fourth-best in the World Cup (+2.80) and Canada (+2.38) ranked seventh on the back of a pretty dominant W8-L2-D4 performance in the third round of CONCACAF qualifying.
numberFire's model does think that Belgium can cover a 1.0-goal spread (+145), but the best play is the over (2.5 goals), which is listed at -136. I have those odds at -155.