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 Thursday, November 24th.
(Note: all records are listed in win-loss-draw format rather than win-draw-loss; FIFA world rankings are in parenthesis.)
Switzerland (15) vs. Cameroon (43)
In this matchup, we see Switzerland as a -135 favorite over Cameroon (+440). Draw odds are +250.
Switzerland went W5-L0-D3 in the first round of UEFA qualifying, namely including 0-0 and 1-1 draws against Italy. Accounting for opponents, they emerged from qualifying with an adjusted goal differential of +1.91, ranking them 13th among World Cup teams during the qualifying stages.
Cameroon had a single defeat in qualifying (W5-L1-D0) with an overall goal differential of +9. Accounting for opponents, they remain at a +1.13, ranking them 28th among 32 World Cup teams. They were also 0-2-2 in four friendlies after the Africa Cup of Nations group stage.
Uruguay (14) vs. South Korea (28)
Here's another similar matchup: Uruguay is -140 to win; South Korea is +440, and draw odds are +250.
The favored side, Uruguay, went just 8-6-4 in CONMEBOL qualifying for a goal differential of 0. They allowed 22 goals and let up just as many. But if we adjust for opponents, their mark works out to a +1.27 per match, and I have Uruguay with the second-toughest qualifying schedule -- of any World Cup side -- by the average opponent strength.
South Korea scored 22 goals and allowed just one in six qualifying matches in the first round and then outscored opponents 13-3 in 10 third-round matches. Their adjusted goal differential is +1.26. By that measure, it's very close. We'll need to keep an eye on the status of Son Heung-min, South Korea's star man, who is day-to-day with an eye injury.
Portugal (9) vs. Ghana (61)
This one is much more lopsided with Portugal a -270 favorite. Ghana's win odds are +750.
The FIFA World Rankings show a substantial gap between the two, and Ghana does rank as the worst team by adjusted goal differential in my model of all 32 World Cup teams (+0.24). Portugal (+1.67) is -- understandably -- a much stronger side. They are, though, without Diogo Jota.
Accounting for injuries, my model thinks there are 2.3 total goals with the under being 59.5% likely (i.e. -150 or so). The under at 2.5 is actually listed at -116, so that seems like a primary play in this match.
The Portugal moneyline (-270) is a bit steep but not the worst bet by any means.
Brazil (1) vs. Serbia (21)
We'll finally get to see the World Cup favorite, Brazil, in action on Thursday. Brazil is +280 to win the World Cup, and no other team is shorter than +600.
Serbia is a decent team (+7500 to win the World Cup) but is overmatched in this one.
Brazil's win odds are -220 with Serbia's at +600. Draw odds are +340.
I have Brazil with a dominant adjusted goal differential of +3.24, easily tops in the World Cup. Serbia (+1.25) is 25th.
In this matchup, it's the Brazil spread that's appealing. numberFire's model thinks this one plays out to 1.87 to 0.74 over the long term and views Brazil -1.0 (+135) as the best play of the match.