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For the first two rounds of the group stage, main slates will start at 8:00 a.m. EST and feature three matches, which are scheduled to start at 8 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. EST.
South Korea (+470) vs. Uruguay (-145)
Over 2.5 Goals: +132 | Most Likely to Score: Suarez (+125)
Portugal (-260) vs. Ghana (+700)
Over 2.5 Goals: -104 | Most Likely to Score: Ronaldo (+105)
Serbia (+600) vs. Brazil (-220)
Over 2.5 Goals: -136 | Most Likely to Score: Neymar (+120)
Portugal and Brazil are going to be the chalk sides on this slate. I might get all four of my attackers from those two teams. Portugal are a -260 favorite over Ghana and are listed at -189 to score over 1.5 goals. We project them to net a slate-best (by a mile) 2.48 goals. Brazil are a -220 favorite versus Serbia and are -213 to score at least twice. We have them scoring 1.87 goals.
Cristiano Ronaldo ($21; +105 to score) has the slate's best goal odds. Ronaldo has had a miserable club campaign so far this year, and he would probably love nothing more than to prove to everyone -- on the biggest stage -- that he's still the man. He'll take penalties and will probably handle free kicks, too. With the talent around him to provide him service, Ronaldo could have a huge game versus Ghana.
Elsewhere on Portugal, Rafael Leao ($15; +230) and Bruno Fernandes ($16; +220) are two of my favorite plays on the slate. You can stack one (or both, if you want) alongside Ronaldo, or you can pair them together and fade the popular CR7. Silva had one goal and four assists in qualifying and is having another solid campaign for Manchester City. Leao has generated six goals and four assists in 12 Serie A starts for Milan, and his role with Portugal is on the rise due to Diogo Jota's injury.
Brazil were the pre-tourney favorite, and while they should win on Thursday, it's not a cakewalk matchup. They have some uncertainty as far as who will start in attack, but they're definitely not lacking for quality options.
It all starts with Neymar ($22; +120), who is -240 to score or assist. The PSG star has been in sublime form in Ligue 1, scoring 11 times with nine assists in 12 league starts. He tallied eight goals and eight assists in qualification. This World Cup will likely be his best remaining chance to lead Brazil to the title, and he comes into the tourney playing as well as anyone in the world. He'll be on pens, and the only negatives with Neymar DFS-wise are his slate-high salary and how chalky he'll be.
If Neymar starts as a winger, it's likely two of Vinicius Junior ($17; +200), Raphinha ($18; +250) and Richarlison ($16; +175) line up alongside him. If Neymar is a little deeper in a number-10 role, all three of those guys may start. I'm particularly interested in Richarlison and Lucas Paqueta ($15; +270), the latter of whom should be in midfield. Richarlison is easy to love at that salary if he's Brazil's starting striker. Paqueta had three goals and an assist in qualifying and is a modest-salaried way to get exposure to Brazil.
Uruguay are -145 to beat South Korea, and they're -111 to go over 1.5 goals. We have them scoring 1.58 goals. Luis Suarez ($20; +125) is still the talisman for this side. He scored eight times in qualifying, including a perfect five for five on penalties. Salaried up with Neymar and Ronaldo, Suarez could go overlooked. The same can be said for Darwin Nunez ($19; +175), who could start next to Suarez in a front two.
Among the underdogs, Serbia's duo of Dusan Vlahovic ($18; +460) and Aleksandar Mitrovic ($16; +250) are worth a look. We have Serbia scoring 0.74 goals, the most of any of the slate's underdogs. Mitrovic has been red-hot this fall for Fulham in the Premier League. He scored eight goals in five starts in qualification.
If Son Heung-min ($19; +350) is able to play, he's a fun contrarian pick, but Son is dealing with a facial injury and is a question mark. He's by far South Korea's best attacker. He's in the first match, so we'll know his status at the initial lock.
We project Ghana to score only 0.24 goals. Inaki Williams ($16; +550) has their best goal odds and possesses the pace to sting Portugal on the counter should Ghana create chances.
Joao Cancelo ($14) is the top attacking full-back on this slate and offers massive upside in a match in which Portugal should see a lot of the ball. He spends most of his time at left-back for Manchester City, but the right-footer is expected to play right-back for Portugal. He's a fantastic stacking partner with any of Portugal's attackers, particularly Ronaldo, who has the aerial prowess to pounce on Cancelo's crosses into the box.
Two of Danlio ($11), Alex Telles ($14) and Alex Sandro ($9) figure to start at full-back for Brazil. Sandro would be a smashing value target if he's in the lineup.
Serbia's Strahinja Pavlovic ($10) and Nikola Milenkovic ($10) will have solid floors against Brazil. Both should be busy. The same goes for South Korea's Kwon Kyung-Won ($9) and Kim Min-Jae ($9). If I don't have the salary for Cancelo -- and I probably won't -- I'll plug in two of these guys and spend more on attackers.
Diogo Costa ($13) has the best win odds (-260) as well as the top clean-sheet odds (-133). As mentioned, our model projects Ghana for only 0.24 goals. It's a similar projection to what we had for Costa Rica (0.17) on Wednesday, and Costa Rica mustered 0.0 expected goals. Costa doesn't offer much in the way of save volume, though.
Uruguay's Sergio Rochet ($10) is my favorite keeper play. The salary is nice, and his -111 clean-sheet odds are second on the slate. Uruguay's -145 win odds are solid, too. If Son is sidelined for South Korea, it'll really weaken their attack. As is, we have South Korea netting only 0.68 goals.
Salaried between those two, Brazil's Alisson ($12) might slip through the cracks. He's a top-class talent, and Brazil's defense was outstanding in qualification, conceding just five goals in 17 matches.
Using any of the keepers from the underdogs could backfield spectacularly, but among the three of them, I don't mind South Korea's Kim Seung-Gyu ($9). Going forward, Uruguay is the least fearsome of the three favorites.