This year I’m thankful for a Thanksgiving holiday with World Cup games all morning long.
It’s a year-long break from the televised parades of oversized floats, a selection of high school marching bands, and unconvincing lip-synching performances by B-list artists. Also, I’m not compelled to partake in the timeless tradition of pretending that I care about a listless Detroit Lions football game.
With our 2022 Escape Hatch, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to kick off some parlays and hopefully find a winning ticket to say thank you for. Feel free to jump on the bandwagon with me or throw in my mentions about how silly my choices are. Either way, know your limits, enjoy yourself and buckle up for the glorious return of the World Cup.
Portugal fades out the Black Stars
Ghana goes into this World Cup with low expectations. At 61 in the FIFA World Ranking and 67 in the Elo ranking, they are the lowest ranked team in the field. There’s plenty of Europe-based talent, but the results have been incoherent for almost a year. The Black Stars paralyzed Switzerland in a pre-tournament friendly, not allowing a single shot on goal.
I would like to warn you against reading too much into this performance. The Swiss side admittedly struggled with the Abu Dhabi heat. The game kicked off at 1:00 p.m. local time in a 90-degree heat in an uncovered stadium. Conditions will be much more hospitable for both sides tomorrow (78 F predicted at kick-off).
Portugal’s attack is sucking up all the media oxygen around that nation. It makes sense when Cristiano Ronaldo is in the squad. But it’s defense that looked exceptional in 2022. She has conceded only 4 goals in 9 games. It wasn’t against weaklings either. The schedule included Turkey, North Macedonia, Spain (x2), Switzerland (x2), Czech Republic (x2) and Nigeria.
More than half of all World Cup games end with a team failing to score. Keep this in mind when making a selection, especially when there are large differences in relative strength.
- Portugal win + clean sheet (-101) – 1 unit
Serbia has a hard time with Brazil
I firmly believe in Brazil. They’re overdue for another World Cup and they’re competing with the right mix of players in their prime and in good form.
However, Serbia will pose a physical problem. The Serbian attack features two monstrous strikers who will create an aerial nightmare for the smaller Brazilian defence. It just feels like Serbia could snatch a goal from Brazil with a deep cross or set piece.
While Serbia might score, Brazil still take care of business. I just can’t bet any other way in this tournament.
- Brazil wins and both teams score (+210) – 1 unit
Breel Embolo comes into play early
In the run-up to the tournament I was effusive in my praise and belief in the striker in the Swiss starting XI. For many reasons, I think he could be the 2022 version of James Rodríguez, another Monaco attacker who became a household name at the 2014 World Cup.
Embolo is Erling Haaland of a less wealthy man. He has a similar athletic profile with the ability to run in channels and finish games while lingering on the last defender’s shoulder.
If Embolo is really ready for a World Cup, the first game against Cameroon is the best place to start. Beyond the normal stakes of a World Cup, Emobolo will have additional motivation. He was born in Cameroon’s capital and moved to Europe at the age of five.
- Embolo Anytime Scorer (+188) – 1 unit
As a bonus, I add Quick Picks for all games every day.
- Switzerland vs Cameroon: Draw (+230)
- Uruguay vs South Korea: Uruguay (-135)
- Portugal vs Ghana: Portugal (-285)
- Brazil vs. Serbia Brazil (-230)
Author: Chris IveyChris is a senior writer covering Nashville SC. His work includes his piece “Three Thoughts” after each game in Nashville, which highlights major storylines and includes key video clips from the game. Chris’ other articles often navigate the complexities of rostering around the myriad of MLS rostering rules. Outside of Broadway Sports Media, Chris lives in Knoxville and is a licensed attorney who serves as in-house counsel for a large insurance company. Beyond NSC, he is always willing to speak about football and basketball in Tennessee, Manchester United, Coventry City and USMNT. Follow Chris on Mastodon