This year, I’m thankful for a Thanksgiving holiday with World Cup matches all morning long.
It’s a one-year reprieve from the televised parades featuring oversized floats, an assortment of high school marching bands, and unconvincing lip-syncing performances by B-list artists. Plus, I won’t be compelled to take part in the timeless tradition of pretending to care about a listless Detroit Lions football game.
With our 2022 escape hatch, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to fire up some parlays and hopefully find a winning ticket to give thanks for. Feel free to hop on the bandwagon with me or get in my mentions about how dumb my picks are. Either way, know your limits, enjoy yourself, and strap in for the wonderful return of the World Cup.
Portugal blanks the Black Stars
Ghana comes into this World Cup with weak expectations. At 61 in FIFA’s world rankings and 67 in the Elo rankings, they’re the lowest-ranked team in the field. There is plenty of European-based talent, but the results have been disjointed for the better part of a year. The Black Stars shut down Switzerland in a pre-tournament friendly not allowing a single shot on goal.
I would caution you about reading too much into that performance. The Swiss side admittedly struggled with the Abu Dhabi heat. The match kicked off at 1:00 pm local time in 90-degree heat in an unroofed stadium. The conditions will be much more hospitable for both sides tomorrow (78 F predicted at kickoff).
Portugal’s attack sucks up all the media oxygen surrounding this nation. It makes sense when Cristiano Ronaldo is in the squad. But it’s the defense that has looked exceptional in 2022. They have conceded just 4 goals in 9 matches. It has not been against pushovers either. The schedule has included Turkey, North Macedonia, Spain (x2), Switzerland (x2), Czech Republic (x2), and Nigeria.
More than half of all World Cup games end in one team failing to score. Keep that in mind when making picks, especially when there is a large disparity in relative strength.
- Portugal to Win + Clean Sheet (-101) – 1 unit
Serbia hangs tough with Brazil
I’m a huge believer in Brazil. They’re overdue for another World Cup title and enter with the right mix of players in their prime and in good form.
That being said, Serbia will present a physical problem. The Serbian attack features a pair of monstrous forwards who will create an aerial nightmare for the more diminutive Brazilian backline. It just feels like Serbia can nick a goal off Brazil via a deep cross or set piece.
While Serbia may score a goal, Brazil will still take care of business. It will simply be impossible for me to bet otherwise in this tournament.
- Brazil Win and Both Teams Score (+210) – 1 unit
Breel Embolo gets off the mark early
I’ve been effusive in my praise and belief in Switzerland’s starting striker in the leadup to the tournament. For a lot of reasons, I think he could be the 2022 version of James Rodríguez, another Monaco attacker who became a household name in the 2014 World Cup.
Embolo is a less rich man’s Erling Haaland. He has a similar athletic profile with the ability to run in channels and finish off plays while lingering on the shoulder of the last defender.
If Embolo is truly poised for a breakout World Cup, the first match against Cameroon is the best place to start. Beyond the normal stakes of a World Cup, Emobolo will have added motivation. He was born in Cameroon’s capital and relocated to Europe when five years old.
- Embolo Anytime Goal Scorer (+188) – 1 unit
As a bonus, I am adding quick picks for all matches each day.
- Switzerland vs Cameroon: Draw (+230)
- Uruguay v. South Korea: Uruguay (-135)
- Portugal v. Ghana: Portugal (-285)
- Brazil v. Serbia Brazil (-230)