The World Cup group stages are coming to a close and the round of 16 is all but set. We have our first four knockout ties taking place over the weekend and they certainly throw up plenty of intrigue. The weekend games see the winners and runners-up from groups A, B, C and D pair off for a place in the quarter-finals.
Argentina needed a second-half double in their final game to top Group C while Poland scraped through as runners-up. Australia caused a shock by finishing second place in Group D while Senegal managed to overcome the loss of star forward Sadio Mane to qualify from Group A. USA squeaked past Iran to claim a place in the second round while France, England and Netherlands all won their groups in relative comfort. The knockout stages are sure to throw up some memorable moments.
Like we did for the group stage, we’ll be putting a total of 25 units across these fixtures and playing the ones that I believe offer us the best value. Just remember that unless specified, all bets are for 90 minutes and do not include extra-time or a penalty shootout.
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Saturday, December 03rd, 2022
Netherlands vs USA 10:00 am ET
Score prediction: Netherlands 1 – 1 USA (after extra time – Netherlands 2 – 1 USA)
The Dutch topped Group A, picking up seven points from their three games with a 1-1 draw against Ecuador, their only real blemish. Either side of that saw the Netherlands beat Senegal and Qatar 2-0, although the win against Senegal in their opening group game came courtesy of two late goals. They haven’t looked particularly sharp and their fairly weak group aided them but they did what was expected of them.
USA’s progression from Group B was rather nail-biting, with a 1-0 against Iran on the final matchday enough to see them reach the second round as runners-up. Arguably, their best performance was the goalless draw against England, which followed a 1-1 draw with Wales in their opening match. They have yet to concede a goal from open play, with Wales’ goal coming from the penalty spot.
The Netherlands hasn’t been at their fluid best while USA has been efficient and worked tirelessly. I expect more of the same and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if these two needed extra time to be separated (or even penalties). A tight and low-scoring game looks to be in order here.
Moneyline – Draw (+240 BetMGM) 2 units
I expect a tight and nervy game. If it’s level late in the contest, both sides might be content to play for extra-time leaving the draw very much in play.
Total goals – Under 2.5 (-160 Caesars) 5 units
The Dutch have yet to score more than twice in a game, with two goals total in all three of their matches. USA has scored just two but conceded only one so a low-scoring affair is likely.
Player to score anytime – Cody Gakpo (+270 FanDuel) 1 unit
Gakpo has three goals in three games and hasn’t needed many chances to do so. If the game is tight, Gapko’s finishing could be the deciding factor.
Players to watch
Cody Gakpo was drawing interest from the top European clubs before the World Cup and three goals in three games won’t have diminished it. In 14 league games for PSV prior to the World Cup, Gakpo scored nine goals and had 12 assists, while his three goals in Qatar have come from just four shots, highlighting his finishing ability. He’s not someone always involved in build-up play but his goal involvement is outstanding and he’ll likely carry the Netherlands’ biggest threat on Saturday.
Christian Pulisic has carried America’s attacking threat throughout the group stage. He has an assist and a goal so has 100% goal involvement for USA while also leading the side in shots (six), shot-creating actions (ten) and dribbles (nine). He’s also the main set-piece taker for USA and that is a route to goal they may be able to exploit. Assuming he’s fit to start, Pulisic is America’s most likely match-winner.
Argentina vs Australia 2:00 pm ET
Score prediction: Argentina 3 – 1 Australia
Argentina was facing an early exit from the World Cup down the barrel following their opening group game loss to Saudi Arabia. Two wins in their next two games saw them top Group C but they had to rely on a second-half surge against Poland in their final group game to eventually finish in first place and avoid a second-round tie with France.
After a resounding 4-1 defeat against France in their opening game, Australia looked huge underdogs to progress through the group stage. But back-to-back 1-0 wins against Tunisia and Denmark saw the Socceroos cause a shock and reach the second round for the first time since 2006.
Outside of a poor second-half display against Saudi Arabia, Argentina has looked good and flashed their true talents in stages without doing it consistently so far. Both sides have actually scored the first goal in all of their respective matches so the opening goal wouldn’t necessarily be the deciding factor like it is in many knockout games.
Both teams to score – Yes (+190 PointsBet) 2 units
Australia has been able to maximize a limited attack but all three of their goals have come from open play and they certainly pose a threat on the counter (like they showed against Denmark). Argentina goes into the game as heavy favorites and on the back of two clean sheets but both came against sides very much playing a defense-first style of game. I expect Australia to show a bit more adventure.
Player to score anytime – Lionel Messi (-125 FanDuel & PointsBet) 3 units
Only a penalty miss against Poland prevented Messi from scoring in all three games and Argentina’s reliance on one of the greatest players of all time could be their downfall. But for now, Messi isn’t showing signs of slowing down and looked back to near his best against Poland. I wouldn’t bet against the living legend from shining again on Saturday.
Players to watch
Julian Alvarez scored Argentina’s second in their 2-0 win against Poland and despite playing second-fiddle to Erling Haaland at Manchester City, has impressed for his club coming into the World Cup. He came off the bench in Argentina’s first two matches but should have done enough to start on Saturday and if Australia puts too much focus on defending Messi, Alvarez should take advantage.
Aaron Mooy followed up his Man of the Match outing against Tunisia with another industrious performance as Australia beat Denmark. His tireless work will be needed more than ever to prevent Argentina from finding pockets of space. Mooy leads the team with 115 passes and his ability to keep possession and get Australia forward will also be crucial for them.
Today’s World Cup Sportsbook Odds – Second Round
- DraftKings Sportsbook World Cup Odds – Bet Now on DraftKings!
- Senegal to win +650
- France to win -330
- Argentina to win -500
- Argentina/Australia to draw +650
- FanDuel Sportsbook World Cup Odds – Bet Now on FanDuel!
- BetMGM Sportsbook World Cup Odds – Bet Now on BetMGM!
- Netherlands/USA to draw +240
- France/Poland to draw +475
- PointsBet Sportsbook World Cup Odds – Bet Now on PointsBet!
- England to win -182
- England/Senegal to draw +300
- Caesars Sportsbook World Cup Odds – Bet Now on Caesars
- Netherlands to win -104
- Australia to win +1600
- Poland to win +1100
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Sunday, December 04th, 2022
France vs Poland 10:00 am ET
Score prediction: France 2 – 1 Poland
France suffered a surprise defeat in their final group game against Tunisia, but it was a much-changed starting lineup as they had already secured qualification to the second round and only a big loss coupled with a big Australia win would’ve denied them top spot in Group D. Their first two games are what we should look at, in which they scored six goals and conceded two against Australia and Denmark.
Poland scraped into the second round by a solitary goal and was on the brink of elimination throughout the final game. They played out a rather dull 0-0 draw with Mexico to start the tournament and labored to a 2-0 win against Saudi Arabia before losing 2-0 to Argentina in their final game. Poland had clearly settled for a draw in their final game and had no answer when they went behind with star striker Robert Lewandowski a lonely figure for much of their tournament so far.
As much as I expect France to progress, I don’t think it’ll be as easy as the sportsbooks expect. Poland frustrated Argentina for much of their game when they weren’t even trying to score. I expect a slightly more adventurous performance from Poland but France should still have too much attacking talent to come up short.
Spread – Poland +1.5 (-110 DraftKings & Caesars) 3 units
Although the overwhelming favorite, France is yet to keep a clean sheet and despite scoring just once so far, Lewandowski remains a huge threat capable of scoring a goal out of nothing. I expect France to win but don’t be surprised if Poland makes them work for it.
Total cards – Under 3.5 (-115 PointsBet) 2 units
At one point, Poland was progressing to the second round purely due to receiving fewer cards than Mexico in the group games. France has only been shown one yellow card so far while Poland has received five. If Poland sits deep rather than press France, yellow cards might be at a premium again.
Players to watch
Kylian Mbappe has three goals so far and looks to carry the load along with Oliver Giroud (two goals) in the absence of Karim Benzema. Mbappe will continue to look at showing the world why he’s one of the best players in the game and he has the ability to create goals in tight spaces in and around the penalty area, something Poland will be seeking to do at every opportunity.
Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny is having himself quite the World Cup. A clean sheet against Mexico was followed up by another against Saudi Arabia, in which he saved a penalty with the score at 1-0. He then saved a Lionel Messi penalty in Poland’s final group game. He’ll be the busier of the two keepers on Sunday and he’s capable of pulling off heroics, which might be what Poland needs if they are to progress.
England vs Senegal 2:00 pm ET
Score prediction: England 3 – 0 Senegal
England set themselves up for a relatively comfortable group win after beating Iran 6-2 in their opening group game. That was followed by an insipid goalless draw with USA and it was a similar story against Wales in the first half. A second-half burst saw them run out 3-0 winners but it’s been a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde tournament for England so far.
Senegal overcame the loss of star forward Sadio Mane and a defeat to the Netherlands in their opening game to reach the last 16. In only their third World Cup, they’ve reached the knockout stages for the second time after beating Qatar 3-1 and then Ecuador 2-1 in a must-win final group game. The five goals Senegal have scored are the most of any runner-up in the first four groups.
England’s victory against Wales is the type of game I expect here. England should control the game and Senegal will seek to play on the counter-attack. Once England does find a breakthrough, I fully expect them to run out comfortable winners and a third consecutive clean sheet looks to be in order.
England total goals – Over 1.5 (-111 FanDuel) 5 units
Senegal hasn’t kept a clean sheet in their three games while England battered Iran and turned it on when needed to against Wales. I expect them to find the net more than once with the attacking talent they have at their disposal.
Highest scoring half – Second half (+122 FanDuel) 2 units
A feature of the World Cup has been higher-scoring second halves and that’s been especially true of these two sides. Senegal’s three games have seen nine goals, seven of which have come in the second half. For England, eight of the 11 goals in their three games have come in the second half.
Players to watch
Marcus Rashford has taken the headlines for England following his brace against Wales and he now leads England with three goals. But it’s easy to forget that Bukayo Saka also bagged a brace in the opening game and was voted England’s player of the season for the last campaign. If he starts, he’s a great option to have a big impact again but could equally be a game-changer off the bench.
Ismaila Sarr scored Senegal’s pressure penalty against Ecuador to set them on their way to victory and has been instrumental in filling in for Mane so far. Senegal has had five different scorers but Sarr leads them in shots (eight), shot-creating actions (14) and dribbles (four). If the African nation is to spring a surprise, the forward plying his trade in England (for Watford) will likely be heavily involved.
Good luck with those World Cup bets and remember to bet responsibly!