The 2022 World Cup in Qatar kicks off on Sunday, November 20. At long last, the tournament that blesses our lives every four years is back.
You know the drill. You'll root for your home country, maybe root for the country of your family's origin (except if you, like me, are Italian), and then fall in love with one of the favorites hoping there's still room on the bandwagon during the knockout rounds.
This World Cup will see almost 20 million people place a wager on it. With sports betting becoming legal in various states across the country (EXCEPT YOU, CALIFORNIA) we could see a historic number of bets placed this time around.
So let's get in on the action.
The USA face an interesting challenge in Group B. England is one of the favorites to win the whole darn thing and should nab first place in the group. Team America needs to focus on their other two opponents and hope they can pull through.
Iran, according to FIFA, doesn't stand much of a chance. Wales, on the other hand, is a veteran-laden team backed by one of the best pump-up speeches you'll ever hear.
If Team USA advances from the group stage this bet is a slam dunk, but we think they'll be able to score three goals in the games against Wales and Iran alone. Bring it home, boys!
A little goal-scoring parlay from our friends at Fanduel.
The 2022 World Cup, sadly, is likely the final international competition for some of the soccer world's biggest names.
Luka Modric, a free-roaming midfielder who can link passes with ease and absolutely crush the ball into the back of the net, is the engine of Team Croatia. Croatia is favored to get out of their group, so Luka will have at least four games to nab a goal in his last go-round. Maybe he'll even get one as pretty as 2018's.
Lionel Messi is the engine of soccer. Full stop. Widely considered to be the GOAT of this generation, Messi has never quite gotten Argentina past the hurdle of international competition, but at 35 years of age, this is the final curtain for the phenom.
Argentina has the second-best odds to win the 2022 World Cup, so Messi will have plenty of chances to make his mark. We just need two goals to hit this parlay. Not worried about it one bit.
Can we talk about Cristiano Ronaldo?
The statuesque striker is in the middle of a long-standing petty-off with his club team. Even for his diva reputation, it's been a lot. Now it has spiraled into Ronaldo airing out his frustrations with the club via a two-night Piers Morgan special. Cool.
If you that his issues with Manchester United, a club team that plays for a league in England, wouldn't have any effect on his Portuguese teammates at the World Cup, you'd be wrong.
Bruno Fernandes is a veteran winger for Portugal and also plays for Manchester United, the club Ronaldo disparaged. Here he is seeing Cristiano in the Portugal locker room after clips of the interview were promoted online.
Now that's an ice-y meatball.
Skill and talent are huge factors in a World Cup team's chances to advance. None, however, are as important as team chemistry. If Portugal's two leaders are at odds how does that stack up for the rest of the team? It would be a Herculean upset for Portugal to not make it out of Group H, but my red flag meter is going off.
It's curtains for Cristiano.