Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:04 AM
Matchday 5 - Best Bets
World Cup Betting Results
World Cup: Matchday 5 Betting Preview
Group F & G Best Bets
Monday, June 18
Sweden vs. South Korea (FS1, 8:00 a.m. ET)
Sweden ran France close in their qualifying group before dumping Italy out in the play-offs, so like all Scandinavian teams they should never be written off.
They may have dodged a bullet with Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s decision not to return for the World Cup. They were disastrously over-reliant on him at Euro 2016 and without him look more of a unified team.
There is a lack of creativity in this team, with Emil Forsberg on the left the only player to generate any real excitement. Should they go behind to Brazil or Mexico in this group, they may struggle to come back.
But they should have few problems with one of the weakest South Korean teams ever to go to a World Cup.
They are badly lacking in strength in depth. The defence has not been good enough for a long time. It is error-prone and even struggles with physicality in Asian qualifying: Sweden will be licking their lips. The goalkeepers do not look great and there is no real recognised goalscorer in the squad. It is all about getting the best out of Son Heung-min.
At the prices, Sweden look very good value.
Prediction: Sweden 2-0 South Korea
Top Bet: Sweden to win at 21/20
Belgium vs. Panama (FS1, 11:00 a.m. ET)
Group G is the least interesting group at the World Cup. Belgium and England will surely qualify ahead of Tunisia and Panama. It is not helped by the game order, which sees the two frontrunners meet on the final round of fixtures.
Panama are one of the weakest teams at this tournament, and their first ever World Cup match could get ugly against the talented Belgians. Four of their expected starting are over 35. Many have extended their international careers just to have a chance to play in Russia. There are now household names in a squad that looks too old and too slow.
The familiar question marks about Belgium may well surface later in the tournament, but for a team packed with attacking talent this is the perfect first match.
And getting his World Cup off to a great start could be Romelu Lukaku. Panama will defend very deep and Lukaku will have plenty of crosses from Kevin de Bruyne and many others to get on the end of. He is the perfect striker for this kind of match.
Prediction: Belgium 4-0 Panama
Top Bet: Romelu Lukaku to score first at 3/1
Tunisia vs. England (FS1, 2:00 p.m. ET)
England kick off their campaign in Volgograd against Tunisia and, as always, optimism has suddenly risen in England that this team can surprise a few people.
A relatively easy route to the quarter-finals helps, but England really have been playing some good stuff under Gareth Southgate of late. They look fluid in attack and the five-man defence looks solid enough against weaker teams, though it may well buckle against the best.
Tunisia are essentially the Uruguay of Africa: a small country that punches above its weight by harnessing its competitive spirit and its togetherness. Unlike North African neighbours Morocco and Algeria, the majority of Tunisia’s team does not come from the diaspora. This perhaps decreases their flair, but improves their cohesion.
The England player to have improved the most under Gareth Southgate is Jesse Lingard. Fielded in a relatively advanced midfield position (somewhere between a number 8 and a number 10), Lingard is an expert at playing between the lines. He scored England’s winner against the Netherlands in March and looks the best value to score the game’s first goal.
Prediction: Tunisia 0-2 England
Top Bet: Jesse Lingard to score first at 13/2