World Cup Betting Guide: Sunday 12/4/22

Defending world champions France and 2018 semifinalists England are big favorites to advance on Matchday 4, but should you back them to come through?

Day 2 of the 2022 FIFA World Cup knockout stage sees the holders and the reigning European runners-up begin their march towards another deep run at a major tournament, though wins surely won’t come easy against a pair of potential dark horses…or will they?

Read on for the details on how the second day of the Round of 16 might play out, plus be sure to check out FanDuel Sportsbook for the latest World Cup odds and more!

France (-1100 to advance) vs. Poland (+660)

Al Thumama Stadium | Doha, Qatar | 10am ET

To put it mildly, reigning world champions France are big, big favorites to move on to the quarterfinal stage at Poland’s expense.

After all, Les Bleus have looked irresistible at this tournament, topping Group D at a canter after averaging 3 goals per match in convincing wins over Australia and Denmark and ranking top six in the field in shots per game (18, 2nd), shots on target per game (5.7, 5th), and pass completion (87.2%, 6th).

Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider 33% of that data is drawn from a meaningless Matchday 3 loss to Tunisia that saw Didier Deschamps make nine changes to their starting XI after having already qualified for the Round of 16.

Their opposition, meanwhile, had to sweat out qualification until the group stage’s final whistle.

After drawing with Mexico, beating Saudi Arabia, and losing to Argentina, Poland only progressed to the knockouts on FIFA’s “fair play” system -- the seventh tiebreaker -- which gave them the nod over El Tri after accruing fewer yellow cards at the tournament.

So now the Eagles find themselves at this stage at a World Cup for the first time since 1986, and while they do feature one of the world's best in Barcelona goal machine and 2021 Ballon d’Or runner-up Robert Lewandowski, they’ve struggled mightily to produce much of anything in the opposition’s end.

Much of that has been due to a territorial disadvantage that they’ve struggled to overcome.

Of the 32 sides taking part in Qatar, Poland have spent the second-most time in their own third and the second-fewest time in the attacking third -- only Costa Rica have posted worse numbers -- and the only two goals they’ve managed at this tournament came late against a Saudi Arabian team ranked 51st in the world.

It’s easy to forget, but had Polish keeper Wojciech Szczęsny not saved two penalties in the group stage, this team would already be back home.

Given how strong this French side is, it’s likely the Juventus man was just delaying the inevitable.

Going Deeper: Somewhat surprisingly, numberFire’s projections have France’s win probability at 53.3%. If Poland can spring the upset, it’d be the first time they’ll have beaten Les Bleus since 1982.

Call To Action: It’s hard to back France straight-up with the odds as such, but Poland have shown little to suggest they’ll offer much resistance. Still, Didier Deschamp’s defense has been far from perfect -- in eleven matches in 2022, they’ve allowed at least one goal in nine of them -- so perhaps taking the French to win but both teams to score (+250) might offer the best value in this potentially lopsided contest.

England (-500 to advance) vs. Senegal (+370)

Al Bayt Stadium | Al Khor, Qatar | 2pm ET

This battle of European runners-up versus reigning African champions could shape up to be one of the more interesting matchups in the Round of 16.

In one corner, there’s an English side who went unbeaten to top Group B, scoring a joint-tournament high nine goals in the process and managing 17 shots on target, third-most in the field.

Gareth Southgate’s team were also efficient in possession in the group stage, connecting on 88.7% of their passes while carving open Iran and Wales and giving off Russia 2018 and Euro 2020 vibes -- two tournaments that saw them reach the semifinals and final, respectively.

In the other corner lies a Senegalese team brimming with confidence after a dramatic AFCON title win one year ago.

Even without injured Ballon d’Or runner-up Sadio Mane, the Lions of Tarenga still powered their way to a second-place finish behind the Dutch in Group A after back-to-back victories over Qatar and Ecuador to secure passage to the knockouts for the second time in their history.

Their overall numbers aren’t as strong as England’s, but the West African side still rank in the upper half in most offensive categories under trusted, longtime coach Aliou Cissé, including shots per game (14, tied for 4th) and aerials won (18.3 per game, 3rd).

Beyond the fact that both teams have lion-centric nicknames, there are other statistical similarities that catch the eye.

Both teams have been good on set pieces in Qatar, as each have scored twice from dead ball situations, joint-most in the tournament. Both also have individuals who can beat opponents, as each rank top-six in successful dribbles.

But despite the similarities, there’s one main difference that gives England the edge here.

Defensively, the Three Lions have conceded just twice all tournament, and both of those goals came late in England’s 6-2 Matchday 1 win over Iran. They’ve not always been airtight at the back -- just look at their UEFA Nations League results from this year -- but they’ve done the job so far in Qatar.

Meanwhile, despite fielding Chelsea’s Édouard Mendy in goal and a handful of top-tier defenders, Senegal have yet to keep a clean sheet at this World Cup and have just two shutouts in their last ten games.

That’s worrying when you consider the firepower England have at their disposal. As mentioned above, this English team is averaging three goals per match at this tournament, and that’s without a single tally from 2018 Golden Boot winner Harry Kane -- yet.

Time will tell if football will be coming home this December for the first time since ‘66, but despite a potentially tricky matchup, it’s hard to see the English dream ending at this stage.

Going Deeper: numberFire’s projections give England a 77.3% chance to advance. If those numbers hold true, it would be the fourth time in the last six World Cups that the Three Lions would reach the quarterfinals.

Call To Action: All of Sengal’s games at this tournament have featured goals, and aside from the 0-0 draw against the USA, so have all of England’s. Even though knockout stage matches are typically cagey, if either side can score early, expect the goals to flow. That makes the over/under of 2.5 goals (+134) or even 3.5 goals (+370) appealing.