World Cup Betting Guide: Monday 12/5/22

Tournament favorites Brazil and 2018 runners-up Croatia headline Day 3 of the knockout stage, but is there a case to be made for underdogs Japan and South Korea to keep their World Cup dreams alive?

Day 3 of the 2022 FIFA World Cup knockout stage offers up one even matchup and one lopsided one, but in this tournament of twists and turns, who’s to say Monday’s contests play out the way we think they will?

Read on for more insight on another intriguing Round of 16 matchday in Qatar, plus be sure to check out FanDuel Sportsbook for the latest World Cup odds and more!

Japan (+154 to advance) vs. Croatia (-188)

Al Janoub Stadium | Al Wakrah, Qatar | 10am ET

Who doesn’t love a surprise, right?

After being matched with former world champions Spain and Germany, hardly any predicted Japan to escape the group stage of this year’s World Cup.

But after a pair of stunning second-half comebacks over those two European heavyweights, the Samurai Blue not only survived and advanced -- they actually topped Group E in the process.

So how did this unheralded side pull it off?

One word: Efficiency.

Hajime Moriyasu’s side had a total of nine shots on goal during the group stage -- a below-average number at this tournament -- but they converted four of them into the goals needed to stun the Germans on Matchday 1 and the Spanish on Matchday 3.

And while the statistics would frame this version of Japan as a pretty average side -- they don’t rank in the top ten in any major statistical category at this tournament and are almost bottom in possession (32.1%, 31st of 32 teams) -- the caliber of their opposition has to be taken into account, as does the fact they’ve already beaten German and Spain in this competition.

And it’s those eye-opening results that should have the attention of their Round of 16 opposition.

2018 World Cup finalists Croatia enter the knockouts unbeaten after earning a dominant 4-1 win over Canada and a pair of 0-0 draws against eventual Group F winners Morocco and a disappointing Belgian side.

Like Japan, the Vatreni haven’t set the analytics world on fire in Qatar, but they’ve consistently shown a big-game nous in this and other recent major tournaments that not many teams have.

That ability to rise to the occasion has been evident all calendar year, as Zlatko Dalic’s charges have lost just once in 2022 and are in the midst of a nine-match unbeaten run that includes a win and draw against France and a pair of victories over Denmark.

So what gives this Monday? Can Japan provide their third stunner in two weeks? Or will this be the start of another deep World Cup run for Croatia?

This one truly feels like a toss-up…so plan accordingly.

Going Deeper: numberFire’s projections have Croatia’s win probability at 55.9%. If those hold true, Japan would fall to 0-2-1 all-time in World Cup play against this nation of four million on the Adriatic Sea.

Call To Action: Japan have conceded once in every match they’ve played thus far -- and as the Germans posted an xG of 3.1 against them, they easily could’ve let in a few more in the opener -- but the Samurai Blue did have a streak of five consecutive clean sheets entering this World Cup, so don’t assume this team can’t defend. Croatia have been solid defensively, too -- just one goal allowed to this point -- so under 0.5 goals (+710) could sneakily be a possibility.

If the match follows that script, all of the method of victory props are in play, where the options range from safe -- either team to win on penalties is +420 – to the more adventurous, like taking Japan to win in extra time at +1500.

Brazil (-1300 to advance) vs. Korea Republic (+790)

Stadium 974 | Doha, Qatar | 2pm ET

On paper, this shouldn’t be close.

First of all, if you put five-time world champions Brazil against anyone, the odds will likely be in their favor.

After all, they’re still the people’s choice to win this competition (+250) and end a 20-year World Cup drought in the process.

But match them up against an unfancied Korea Republic side that needed a stoppage-time goal on Matchday 3 just to make it this far, and you get the lopsided numbers you see above.