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 Tuesday, November 22nd.
(Note: all records are listed in win-loss-draw format rather than win-draw-loss; FIFA world rankings are in parenthesis.)
Saudi Arabia (51) vs. Argentina (3)
One of the biggest mismatches in the opening days of the World Cup, Argentina is a -650 favorite over Saudi Arabia (+1600). Draw odds are +650.
The odds for Saudi Arabia not to score at all are -210 (67.7%). numberFire projects Saudi Arabia for only 0.36 goals. My model thinks that’s fair and considers their shutout odds to be -234.
Lionel Messi may not be 100% to start the World Cup due to an inflamed Achilles tendon, yet Argentina may not need him to be in full form in such a lopsided matchup.
Given the unlikely probability of even a single Saudi Arabia goal and Messi’s injury, we can consider under 2.5 goals (+120). numberFire’s model likes that as a five-star play out of five. My model thinks the under is 61.2% likely, as well, solely due to the issues for Saudi Arabia's scoring potential.
Tunisia (30) vs. Denmark (10)
At +3200, Denmark ranks tied for 10th in win odds for the World Cup crown. Tunisia (+55000) is tied for last.
Denmark’s odds to advance from Group D are pretty heavy at -450, and that’s because both Tunisia (+470 to advance) and Australia (+500) join them with France (-1350).
Tunisia ended World Cup qualifying with an adjusted goal differential (per my data) of -0.08, ranking them 26th among 32 World Cup teams.
Denmark finished qualifying by allowing only 3 goals and scoring 30 of their own. Keeper Kasper Schmeichel recorded eight clean sheets in those 10 games. Notably, Denmark defeated France 2-1 in June and 2-0 in September in the UEFA Nations League.
My data shows an adjusted goal differential of +1.17 for Tunisia in qualifying with Denmark at a +2.47.
numberFire's preferred route here is Denmark's moneyline (-190), as they are 75.6% likely to win. The algorithm also likes under 2.5 goals (which we have as 69.3% likely).
Poland (26) vs. Mexico (13)
A tight opening game awaits between Poland and Mexico. Mexico is +165 to win, Poland is +190, and a draw is +200. Each team is +15000 to win the World Cup.
Poland finished the first round of UEFA qualifying 6-2-2 with a +19 goal differential (30 goals for and 11 allowed) -- but with wins over Andorra (151st in the FIFA ranks), Albania (66th), and San Marino (211th) twice each -- handily, at least. Their average goal differential of +1.91 across all qualifying should read more like a +1.73 when adjusted for opponent.
Although Mexico's raw goal differential in qualifying (+0.64) seems low, adjusting for one of the tougher qualifying schedules, their truer rate is +1.41. That's still not elite relative to other squads and actually is worse than Poland's.
numberFire's model has Poland as a slight favorite (50.2%), so Poland +1.0 (-230) and Poland's moneyline (+190) are five- and three-star plays, respectively.
Australia (38) vs. France (4)
France (+800) trails just Brazil (+300) and Argentina (+550) in title odds -- and is tied with Spain (+800) for third.
Australia, meanwhile, is +55000, which is tied for last.
France is dealing with a lot of notable injuries: N’Golo Kanté and Paul Pogba were known injuries, but Karim Benzema, Presnel Kempembe and Christopher Nkunku are recent additions to their lengthy injury list.
France didn’t lose across their eight qualifying matches (W5-L0-D3) and allowed just 3 goals in those matches (while scoring 18). In the UEFA Nations League, they were just W1-3L-D2.
For Australia to qualify, it took penalties – and some dancing by keeper Andrew Redmayne – in the AFC-CONMEBOL playoff to qualify for the World Cup despite an 8-0-0 record in qualifying second-round matches with a goal difference of 28 to 2. In the third round, they were just 4-3-3.
Australia's adjusted goal differential (+1.29) doesn't stack up with France's (+2.34), and even with injuries, France can overcome.
However, there isn't a lot of value in this match. numberFire views France as 79.1% likely to win, so the heavy France moneyline (-370) is just a one-star lean.
There's also a one-star suggestion on the over (at 2.5 goals), which my model has as 53.7% likely; numberFire's probability for 3 or more goals is 56.5%.