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World Cup 2022 continues with four more matches on Wednesday, as Germany, Spain and Belgium all play their first games at the tournament in Qatar.
Will the three European powers get off to winning starts, or could there be some upsets in the first round of fixtures in Groups E and F? We have made some selections to create our very own parlay for the action on day four.
The odds for November 23 are supplied by the FanDuel sportsbook, where a $1000 no sweat first bet is available.
Croatia were the great overachievers at World Cup 2018, making it all the way to the final despite being surrounded by off-field turmoil in the build-up to the big kick-off in Russia. Things are calmer away from the pitch these days, and Zlatko Dalic is still in charge after leading his country to the showpiece event four years ago.
Conversely Morocco changed their manager just three months ago, as Walid Regragui replaced Vahid Halilhodzic after the Bosnian fell out with several key players. It remains to be seen how ready the North Africans are, although the return to the fold of Hakim Ziyech is undoubtedly good news.
However, we fancy Croatia’s continuity and cohesion to get them over the line in this Group F opener. Add a win for the Vatreni to your November 23 betslip.
Germany seldom arrive at a World Cup without hoping to triumph, but there is a degree of realism within the country going into this tournament. A group stage exit in 2018 stunned the Nationalelf and a tough draw this time around means no one is getting carried away.
Germany are certainly among the contenders to triumph, but Euro 2024 - which will be hosted on their soil - is perhaps what Hansi Flick is working towards. The former Bayern Munich boss has been in charge for little over a year, during which time results have been mixed.
Germany’s main weakness is at full-back and a talented Japan team will fancy their chances of creating opportunities at the Khalifa International Stadium. Goals at both ends looks like an astute choice in this one.
During their phenomenal run of success between 2008 and 2012, when they won two European Championships and a World Cup, Spain did not concede a single goal in the knockout stage. That was not only because they had a world-class goalkeeper and center-backs, but also because their possession-heavy style made it difficult for opponents to get enough of the ball.
The current Spain side is not as good as the Vicente del Bosque vintage, but Luis Enrique’s team will enjoy plenty of possession in Qatar.
Costa Rica will sit deep and look to spring forward at speed on the counter-attack, but that is easier said than done against one of the strongest outfits at the World Cup. A win and a clean sheet should be well within Spain’s grasp in their first game of the tournament.
Canada upset the odds to beat the likes of Mexico, the United States and Costa Rica to top spot in the final round of CONCACAF qualification. John Herdman has led the country back to the World Cup for the first time since 1986, when they lost all three group games.
Ahead of their co-hosting of World Cup 2026, Canada will be looking to improve on that record this winter. There is reason to believe a team which contains plenty of pace can harm an aging Belgian backline, which will feature a pair of veterans in Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen.
The Red Devils should score their fair share of goals in Qatar, despite worries over the fitness of Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku. This promises to be a fun game.
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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