What can we expect from the quarterfinal round of the 2022 World Cup? Can anyone stop France or Brazil from making it through to the finals? Former ESPN senior researcher Paul Carr, now senior director of content for TruMedia and covering his fourth men's World Cup, ESPN FC host Dan Thomas and ESPN broadcaster and analyst Dalen Cuff offer their tips and betting suggestions.
As we enter the quarterfinal round, Brazil (+175) seems to be the runaway favorite to win it all. Do you see value in taking anybody else to bring the World Cup trophy back home?
Carr: I picked Argentina before the tournament, and nothing's really changed. The price is essentially the same at +550, and Brazil still looms as a likely semifinal opponent. With Argentina favored (-167 to advance) against Netherlands, and then likely to be an underdog versus Brazil and roughly a coin flip in the final, I think there's some value on the second-best team in the tournament.
Thomas: Brazil have, by far, the easier side of the bracket and have been the most impressive team up to now, well and truly cementing themselves as favorites to win it for the first time since 2002.
Cuff: I was on Brazil pre-tournament and still think they are the best side. I actually think Argentina have looked average, have lacked creativity and are way too Messi-dependent to win it all. They might not even advance past the Netherlands. On the other side of the bracket, I like France to get to the final and, with their form and value of +400 to win, it all is a good play.
Kylian Mbappe (-225) is the current runaway favorite to win the Golden Boot, and with good reason, as he has scored five goals, two more than any other player in the tournament. Is there anybody else you'd take to surpass him?
Carr: Lionel Messi (+1200) is the one I'd consider. He's just two goals back and has one assist, so he's currently level with Mbappe on the first tiebreaker. Even if Argentina loses in the semifinals, he'll play in the third-place match to set the World Cup record for most games played. He of course takes Argentina's penalties too, so he still has a chance to pile up a few more goals.
Thomas: It might be the boring answer, I'm afraid, but no. Mbappe has been so so good and I don't think there'll be any catching him.
Cuff: It's tough to back anyone else, but Richarlison will be the striker for Brazil in every match, he currently has three goals, and has scored in nine of his past 10 matches for Brazil. He's +850 now. Olivier Giroud (also on three goals) is +1900 and is now the all-time leading goal scorer in France history. Maybe he's worth a sprinkle.
Speaking of France, they've got to get through England and then the winner of Morocco/Portugal in order to make it to the final. Can any of those three teams stop them from getting to that last match?
Carr: I wouldn't be shocked if any of those four teams made the final. None of the other three have the ceiling of France, but England and Portugal aren't far behind in attack, and England and Morocco might be better defensively. Morocco have about a one-in-three chance of getting by Portugal, and likely about the same odds to top France or England, so +1100 for the Atlas Lions to reach the final isn't a bad sprinkle as a long shot.
Thomas: Portugal looked excellent against Switzerland and it will be interesting to see whether that was an anomaly or if they are actually the real deal. If they can play like that consistently, then they could beat France in the semifinals.
Cuff: England definitely isn't scared of France, so that's not a gimme. Portugal has the advantage, which is not a slight against Morocco. Morocco is impressive, but are also coming off 120 minutes where bodies were breaking down, compared to a Portugal side that basically had a training session in the second half of their last game. Given that, and what they showed without Cristiano Ronaldo, I could see playing Portugal (+210) to make the final
Any other props that you're thinking about?
Carr: If you aren't already playing Brazil or Argentina to win the title, I don't mind taking "any South American team" to win the title at +100. I'm not sure there's a ton of value, since there's about an 80% chance one of them reaches the final, but it's a fun compromise if you can't decide between the two.
Cuff: As I've already said, I like a Brazil-France final, which at +375 is my favorite play. However, with the aforementioned Portugal path, Brazil-Portugal (+475) is solid, too.