World Cup 2022 Betting Trends

World Cup 2022
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There are fewer events more difficult to handicap than an international football tournament. 

Results assume a certain degree of randomness due to the brevity of the tournament while the lack of genuine competitive football in the lead up to the tournament can render any assessment of form speculative. 

While following betting trends blindly is not advised, identifying biases in markets that will be flooded with square money can provide a starting point when framing a tournament such as the World Cup.

In this article I will identify the best World Cup betting trends, looking at results in the 1X2, Asian handicap and goal total betting markets from the first World Cup of the modern betting era (1998) to the most recent World Cup in 2018.

I will also conclude the analysis with my nine best bets for this World Cup group stage based on this analysis.

Analysis Note: Results have been determined on regulation 90 minutes with extra time excluded. Further, 3rd place playoffs have been eliminated from the analysis. Betting results are based on best odds adjusted to standard 4.5% bookmaker margin with returns (profit/loss) based on betting at even stakes, ie. the returns you would have earned if you had bet $10 on each market outcome.

Here are our top Soccer World Cup Betting Trends you can discover here, listed below:

  1. Bet on ‘Warm Weather’ nations
  2. Bet Under 2.5 goals in the Knockout Stage
  3. Bet the Draw in the Knockout Stage
  4. Bet on Big Ugly Underdogs
  5. Don’t Bet On Debut Nations
  6. Bet on Host Nations
  7. Bet Against Top Ranked FIFA Nations
  8. Bet Against Defending Champions
  9. Bet on profitable World Cup qualification nations
  10. Bet Against Both Teams To Score in the Knockout Stage
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#1 - Bet on ‘Warm Weather’ nations 

There has been plenty of talk in the lead up to the 2022 World Cup regarding the impact of high temperatures on team performance.

Have teams representing ‘warm weather’ nations performed better at World Cups played in warm temperatures?

Analyzing temperatures on previous World Cups dating back to 1930 and temperature data from the World Bank climate database, I observed that the average goal difference for warm weather nations increases by 0.37 goals per match when playing in World Cups hosted by warm weather nations than when playing in World Cups located in moderate or cooler climates.

Have bookmakers adjusted for this advantage? It seems they have not.

Trends:

  • Since 1998, betting $10 on each Warm Weather nation to win their matches when playing at a warm weather World Cup against nations of moderate or cold climates would have earned a profit of $26.90, for a return of 4.08%..
  • Since 1998, betting $10 on each Warm Weather nation in the Asian handicap market when playing at a warm weather World Cup against nations of moderate or cold climates would have earned a profit of $45.90, for a return of 6.95%..

Read More about this trend


#2 - Bet Under 2.5 goals in the Knockout Stage

International football tournaments are famous (or perhaps infamous) for their defensive nature. 

This is particularly true when it comes to the knockout stage of the tournament.

Since 1998, the average goals scored in a World Cup group stage match has been 2.54 goals, while in the knockout stage, that average drops to 2.11 goals.

Have bookmakers accounted adequately for the defensive mindset of teams in the knockout stage? 

Not quite. 

Trend:

  • If you had bet $10 on Under 2.5 goals in every World Cup knockout stage match since 1998, you would have earned a profit of $168.10 from $900 wagered, a return of 18.7%.

Read more about this trend 


#3 - Bet the Draw in the Knockout Stage

Fewer goals means more draws. As we just saw, bookmakers have not adequately accounted for the dip in goals during the knockout stage of the World Cup since 1998. 

Has the diminished number of goals also lead to profitability in betting the Draw in the 1X2 market?

Yes, it has. 

And this is true not only of the World Cup, but the European championship as well.

Trend:

  • Since 1998, betting $10 on the Draw, in each knockout stage match of the World Cup and Euro tournaments, would have earned you a profit of $427 from $1480 wagered, a return of 28.9%.

Read more about this trend


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#4 - Bet on Big Ugly Underdogs

Any bettor worth their salt knows that the betting public loves to back favorites. 

Given the amount of public money that is wagered on major sporting events, favorites are often backed into prices that don’t reflect their true chances of winning a given match.

Has this been true of the World Cup?

It has been.

And it has been especially so with underdogs receiving at least +1 goal in the Asian handicap market.

Trend:

  • Since 1998, if you had bet $10 on each nation entering a World Cup match as an underdog receiving +1 goal or more in the Asian handicap market, you would have earned a profit of $56.20 from $1400 wagered, a return of 4.01%.

Read more about this trend


#5 - Don’t Bet On Debut Nations

Experience counts. Especially at major football tournaments such as the World Cup. 

Not only are the more experienced nations better footballing nations (since their experience reflects their potential to qualify in the first place), the advantage is compounded by simply having experience at such events.

Historically, debut nations have underperformed at World Cups, even against bookmaker expectations. 

There will be just one debut nation at the 2022 World Cup - Qatar.

Trends:

  • Since 1998, if you had bet $10 on debut nation’s opponents to win in each debut nation match, you would have made a profit of $36.90 from $570 wagered, for a return of 6.5%. .
  • Since 1998, if you had bet $10 on debut nation’s opponents in the Asian handicap market in each debut nation match, you would have made a profit of  $88.50, from $570 wagered, for a return of 15.5%..

Read more about this trend


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#6 - Bet on Host Nations

Well yes, this trend conflicts with the previous trend. It’s a rare event, but this year’s World Cup will see a debut nation hosting the tournament.

What has home advantage been worth at the World Cup?

Average goal difference for a host nation has been +0.91 goals since 1930. When those host nations have not hosted the World Cup, their average goal difference has been +0.27 goals, giving host nations an average home advantage of +0.64 goals.

Have bookmakers adequately accounted for home advantage in the World Cup?

They have not.

Trends:

  • Since 1998 if you bet $10 on host nations to win every match they played, you would have earned a profit of $21.70 from $370 wagered, a return of 5.9%. 
  • Since 1998 if you bet $10 on host nations in the Asian handicap market in every match they played, you would have earned a profit of $100.10 from $370 wagered, a return of 27.1%.

Read more about this trend


#7 - Bet Against Top Ranked FIFA Nations

This one is a little bit quirky. 

While the top ranked FIFA nations might be expected to go deep into the tournament, have they been profitable to bet on?

They have not. 

And this has particularly been the case for the nation entering the World Cup ranked number 1 in the FIFA rankings. 

Brazil will enter the 2022 FIFA World Cup as the number 1 ranked nation in the world.

Trend:

  • Since 1998, if you had bet $10 on the opponents of the number 1 ranked FIFA nation to win the match, you would have seen a profit of $347.20 from $210 wagered, a staggering return of 165%.

Read more about this trend


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#8 - Bet Against Defending Champions

As I’ve already pointed out, tournaments such as the World Cup are famous for casual fans backing the teams they know best.

And this especially goes for the defending World Cup champions.

The champion hangover has been a talking point for a couple of decades now.

Have bookmakers accounted for the drop in form of defending World Cup champions?

Not even close.

Trends:

  • Since 1998, if you had bet $10 on the opponents of defending World Cup champions to win in each match featuring a defending champion, you would have made a profit of $502.30 from $240 wagered, a massive return of 209%.
  • Since 1998, if you had bet $10 on the opponents of defending World Cup champions in the Asian handicap market in each match featuring a defending champion, you would have made a profit of $91.60 from $240 wagered, a return of 38.2%.

Read more about this trend


#9 - Bet on profitable World Cup qualification nations

How much does World Cup qualification count for when it comes to the World Cup proper?

Taking a look back at each World Cup qualification campaign of 2010, 2014 and 2018, I identified that nations who were profitable back in the 1X2 and Asian handicap markets during qualification, continued to be profitable during the World Cup itself.

Trend:

  • Since 2010, if you had bet $10 on every nation that was profitable through World Cup qualification in the 1X2 market when opposing a nation that was not profitable, you would have earned a profit of $181 from $840 wagered, a return of 21.5%.
  • Since 2010, if you had bet $10 on every nation that was profitable through World Cup qualification in the Asian handicap market when opposing a nation that was not profitable, you would have earned a profit of $162 from $840 wagered, a return of 19.3%.

Read more about this trend


#10 - Bet Against Both Teams To Score in the Knockout Stage

Once again we’re looking at betting against goals in the knockout stage.

As we saw previously betting on under 2.5 goals and backing the draw has been profitable in the World Cup knockout stage since 1998.

Therefore, we should expect it to also be the case when looking at the Both Teams to Score (BTTS) market.

Has it been profitable to bet on BTTS - No in the World Cup knockout stages?

Yes.

Trend:

  • If you had bet $10 on BTTS - No in each World Cup knockout stage match since 1998, you would have earned a profit of $76.65 from $900 wagered, a return of 8.5%.

Read more about this trend


Best Bets for the 2022 World Cup Group Stage

Based on this analysis, I have come up with a list of best bets for the 2022 World Cup group stage.

I have decided to look at:

  • Warm weather underdogs
  • Receiving at least +1 goal in the Asian handicap market
  • No serious gap in experience with their opponents

Here then are my nine best bets for the 2022 World Cup group stage.

  • Senegal +1 goal (-124) vs Netherlands (November 21st)
  • Tunisia +1 goal (+111) vs Denmark (November 22nd)
  • Costa Rica +2 goals (+101) vs Spain (November 23rd)
  • Ghana +1.25 goals (-116) vs Portugal (November 24th)
  • Ecuador +1 goal (-124) vs Netherlands (November 25th)
  • Mexico +1 goal (-124) vs Argentina (November 26th)
  • Morocco +1 goal (-112) vs Belgium (November 27th)
  • Tunisia +1.5 goals (-114) vs France (November 30th)
  • Cameroon +1.5 goals (-103) vs Brazil (December 2nd)

Good luck this World Cup.

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