Best World Cup group stage picks: Back the United States, Canada, Mexico to advance

Best World Cup group stage picks: Back the United States, Canada, Mexico to advance

Updated: 6 days, 23 hours, 8 minutes, 39 seconds ago

The World Cup group stage runs for 13 days and by the end of it, only 16 of the 32 teams will remain.

The pre-tournament narrative: The Netherlands and Brazil are both heavily favoured to win their groups but come to near-even money when parlayed. Meanwhile, we like Uruguay to upset Portugal in Group H and expect the United States to advance from Group B. Plus, we have a pick for every other group.

Check out our best World Cup group stage picks for the upcoming tournament in Qatar.

Odds as of 11:55 a.m. on 10/18/2022.

World Cup group stage picks

Best Bet: The Netherlands and Brazil to each win their groups (-105)

We’re rolling with a chalky parlay as our best bet. The Netherlands is the -215 favourite to win Group A (Ecuador, Senegal, Qatar) while Brazil is the -295 favourite to top Group G (Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon).

Both of these teams should roll over their competition.

The Dutch are in great form right now. They were undefeated in the 2022 Nations League group stage, winning five games while drawing one. That stretch was highlighted by a 4-1 win over Belgium, which aided their tournament-leading 14 goals.

Holland was also undefeated in the group stage of last year’s European Cup. Expect the team to replicate that dominance against three inferior opponents.

The Netherlands dominated its Nations League group. Photo by Matt Dunham/AP.

Brazil has won its group in every tournament since 1978 and we don’t see that streak ending in Qatar.

The five-time champions have arguably the most talented team in this tournament and are undisputedly the class of Group G.

Brazil has won seven straight games dating back to February, outscoring its opponents 26-2 in those contests. Switzerland, Cameroon and Serbia aren’t pushovers but that firepower is enough to break any team.

Key stat: Neither Brazil nor the Netherlands has lost in 2022, going a combined 13-3-0.

Other World Cup group stage picks

Uruguay to win Group H (+185): Uruguay won its group in the 2018 World Cup and has solid value to run it back in Qatar. It will have to contend with Portugal, South Korea and Ghana.

This team has the perfect blend of veteran leadership and young talent to succeed. Luis Suarez is one of 12 players on the roster with 40-plus international caps. Uruguay has played solid throughout 2022 (7-1-1 record) and recently beat Canada 2-0.

Portugal is a good team but certainly isn’t invincible. Cristiano Ronaldo is in the twilight of his career and his country has dropped two of its last five games.

Portugal also struggled in last year’s European Cup, posting a 1-1-1 group stage record before losing its first knockout game.

United States to advance from Group B (-106): The United States shouldn’t have much trouble advancing out of Group B. The squad is loaded with young talents such as Sergio Dest, Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Timothy Weah.

England is the heavy favourite to top the group (-265) but that can hardly be considered a lock due to its recent form. The Three Lions are winless in their last six games (0-3-3).

Outside of England, the U.S. will have to contend with Wales and Iran. The former hasn’t advanced out of the group stage since 1958 while the latter has never reached the knockout stage.

Quick picks

Mexico to advance from Group C (-117): Argentina is the class of Group C but Mexico should be able to edge out Poland and Saudi Arabia for the No. 2 spot. The Mexicans have advanced to the knockout stage in seven straight tournaments.

France to win Group D (-186): This is a bit too chalky to wager on but it’s the only feasible option from Group D — unless you think Denmark can take the top spot at +225. We believe the reigning champs will win their group as they’ve done in each of the past two World Cups.

Spain to win Group E (-108): Choosing between Spain and Germany (+118) to top Group E is tough, but we’re going to roll with the team in better form. Both countries lost only one game in the nations league, but Spain won three games (3-2-1) while Germany was victorious just once (1-4-1). Spain also was in the semifinals at last year’s European Cup before losing in penalties to the eventual champions, Italy.

Canada to advance from Group F (+300): Canada dominated the CONCACAF qualifiers, picking up points in 12 of 14 games. The Reds led the qualifiers in goals for (23) and goal differential (plus-16). It will be tough to get by either Croatia or Belgium, but this is worth a sprinkle at +300.

APAvery Perri writes about sports betting for NorthStar Bets. NorthStar Bets is owned by NordStar Capital, which also owns Torstar, the Star's parent company. Follow him on Twitter: @AveryPerri

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