Starting on Sunday, November 20th in Qatar, the top soccer nations of the world are gathering for the 2022 World Cup. The World Cup is a tournament held just every four years, giving it extra meaning. It is comfortably the most watched sporting event in the world. To put it in context, the global viewership numbers for the World Cup Final are 4-5 times higher than for the Super Bowl.

The amount of money wagered during the course of the World Cup is a reflection of that level of interest.

Of course, US sports fans have been a little slower to take to soccer. That has changed in recent years with the success of the U.S. Women’s National Team and the increased popularity of Major League Soccer. Meanwhile in Europe, South America, and other parts of the world, the sport known simply as “football” continues to reign as the most popular sport.

The Leading Teams

Through the last few months, international soccer teams have been going through qualifying events. 32 teams are now left standing for the coveted World Cup Title. The teams are divided into 8 groups of 4. Each group will be settled in round-robin fashion. The top two teams from each group then qualify for the 16-team single-game elimination part of the tournament.

It’s noteworthy to sports bettors that ties (aka “draws”) are allowed in group matches and are quite common. However, once the teams line up for the single-game elimination rounds the tie will no longer be a viable wagering option. The games are decided with extra-time and a penalty shootout if needed.

Here is a list of the top 10 teams with their future odds to win the World Cup. The lines have been provided by Caesars Sportsbook in the U.S.

Brazil +400
Argentina +550
France +650
England +750
Spain +750
Germany +1000
Netherlands +1400
Portugal +1400
Belgium +1600
Denmark +3000

There is big drop-off in odds from Belgium to Denmark. That only serves to represent that bookmakers feel strongly that the 2022 World Cup winner will come from the top nine teams. While upsets do happen in single matches, the champions usually emerge from a small pool of traditionally strong countries.

Predicting a Winner

For a casual U.S. bettor not all that familiar with international soccer, one of two simple approaches makes sense.

First, there is nothing wrong with placing a bet on a couple of teams simply in support of the country in question. For patriotic American bettors, a word of caution. The World Cup has been staged on 21 prior occasions with the U.S. winless and never really coming close.

Conversely, the favored Brazil team has won five World Cup titles with Germany and Italy winning four titles each. Therein lies a handicapping hint. Those three countries have combined to win 13 of the 21 Cups awarded. France is the defending champion from 2018.

The other approach to betting on the World Cup would be to gather information from soccer experts in other countries. These folks are broadcasters and sports betting handicappers who spend most of their time involved in covering the international game.

Who are they tipping? The Sporting News publication has requested picks from their football experts, and they go as follows:

Simon Borg – Argentina
Mike DeCourcy – Brazil
Mauricio Codocea – Argentina
Pete Marshall – Argentina
Kyle Bonn – Brazil


Commentary: According to this handicapper, it’s very likely the oddsmakers have it right.

The tipsters are looking at South America. That’s no real surprise as Brazil and Argentina are two powerhouses. They are both in form and with deep squads. And, maybe the warm weather in Qatar also favors these teams vs their European counterparts?

The Brazilian team is loaded with international talent with many of the players plying their trade in Europe’s top leagues. The problem (as usual) Brazil faces is the team might have holes on defense as most of the talent rests on the front line.

Argentina has GOAT candidate Lionel Messi, almost certainly the greatest soccer player to never win a World Cup. This might be his time. Why? It’s the first time Argentina has been able to surround him with enough elite players who can help share the scoring load. In addition, they have a better defensive unit than Brazil.

Can Messi repeat what his legendary countryman Diego Maradona did in 1986 and drag Argentina across the finish line again? It’s a big ask, especially at the age of 35. And you can’t write off defending champions France or perennial contenders Germany.

For soccer fans, the next four weeks are a once-every-four-years opportunity to see the world’s best on the biggest stage. Making a winning bet in the process would be the icing on the cake.