Day 2 of the World Cup was not friendly to me. While I feel - and if you tailed you’d agree - we read both games right, the final results were not indicative. Senegal entered the final 10 minutes of the game tied, and for large portions dominated possession and had the better chances. Just as predicted, the defense was organized and fantastic and winning the ball and keeping it. All that dissipated when Frenkie de Jong curled in a beautiful ball for Cody Gakpo to flick over Edouard Mendy and into the net. A push was still alive until Senegal spread themselves thin in search of a point resulting in a Davy Klaassen finish to seal it. Afterward, the United States went up in the first half and mitigated damages against Wales in the 2nd aside from one good chance until Walker Zimmerman inexplicably took Gareth Bales’ legs out even though there was no imminent danger in the box. It’s unfortunate, but both reads were right. We play a long game here, and I’m back with two of my favorite plays for Tuesday’s slate.
Argentina vs Saudi Arabia (5:00 AM ET)
This matchup breaks down fairly simply. Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow many goals, but Argentina scores in bunches. Who will get the best of the other? Now, the odds lean heavily in Argentina’s favor here as -700 favorites to finish this game with three points. I’m not surprised and I agree. The Copa American Champions tout one of the best front threes in all of football led by Lionel Messi, and have plenty of maestros in the midfield to connect and pick apart defenses. There’s no better representation of this than Argentina scoring 19 goals over their last 5 matches, scoring at least 3 in every match. What might surprise people is that they’ve allowed exactly 0 goals. While their competition has been lacking, many of those teams are on par with Saudi Arabia.
The Saudis on the other hand have allowed only 9 goals over their last 13 games, and while there are some lesser nations littered in there, there are also names like Croatia, Japan, USA, and others. Given how stout Argentina has been defensively and that the Saudis will likely pack it in and try to mitigate damage, taking their chances when presented. I doubt the Saudi's score, but I could see this game finishing 2-0 in favor of the Argentines. I’ll take the under with push potential to get over the line.
Pick: under 3 goals -115 (1u)
AP Photo/Amr Nabil
Denmark vs Tunisia (8:00 AM ET)
When you think about this game, think of Senegal vs Netherlands but with less quality on both sides. Denmark has some phenomenal passers of the ball in Christian Eriksen, Thomas Delaney, and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and has a solid defense, but what they lack is a consistent threat to put the ball in the net. They’re hoping that Yussuf Poulsen or Kasper Dolberg will emerge and be that true number nine they’re looking for, but they’ve struggled to find consistency there.
Luckily, they’re facing a Tunisia side that unfortunately lacks talent across the board. They lost to Brazil 5-1 back in September but prior to that held opponents scoreless for six consecutive games. They don’t have many big names on their squad in club football, but they have largely dominated Africa and have two wins over Chile and Japan in the summer to their name.
I don’t trust Tunisia like I do Senegal, and because of that, I’m going to have to follow the favorites here. On top of that solid midfield, I listed above, they have a supremely experienced backline with veteran Kasper Schmeichel in goal to anchor them. Whether it’s Poulsen, Dolberg, Mikkel Damsgaard, Martin Braithwate, or someone else, I expect Denmark to be able to notch two goals, which should be enough against the Tunisians.
Pick: Denmark -0.75 -125 (1u) & Denmark o1.5 -100 (1u)