Senegal vs Qatar (8:00 AM ET)
I was on Senegal +1 against The Netherlands on Monday, and if you joined me on that bet I feel your pain. The game went about the way I expected it to, but a moment of brilliance between Frenkie de Jong and Cody Gakpo separated the two late before Davy Klaassen made it two as Senegal pushed forward for an equalizer. To statistically back my point, the possession was around even and the xG (expected goals) actually leaned in Senegal's favor (0.89 to 0.67). They outshot the Dutch and looked fantastic for long periods of the game. It was brutal to not at least get a push.
Now the Senegalese (as well as Qatar) are in a must-win scenario. Qatar put up little to no fight against Ecuador, and while they only allowed 6 shots throughout the game, they registered 0 shots on target throughout 90 minutes. Their 3-5-2 formation caused some confusion for Ecuador, and it could equally for Senegal, but I expect them to break through much like Ecuador did. Senegal is better across the board than Ecuador, with Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly anchoring a solid backline with Nampalys Mendy and Idrissa Gueye running midfield ragged. The difference will be Krepin Diatta and Ismaila Sarr uncorking the Qatar defense, which they'll do at some point tomorrow. The moneyline is too juicy for my liking at -160, but I'll take the Asian spread at minus 0.75 at closer to even odds.
Pick: Senegal -0.75 -120 (1u)
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England vs United States (2:00 PM ET)
I know the majority of you want to bet on the United States, and I'm right there with you. I tried to find an angle to justify backing USA with my hard-earned money but I couldn't do it. I make a point to put emotions aside when making my bet and this is no different. If I end up opposing the team I root for, I see it as a win-win scenario. I've nearly spoiled my play in backing England but here's why. Experience, depth, and quality at every level.
We (USA) as a country have made large strides in our academies and players are beginning to play for large European sides (Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie), but we still lack that consistent quality across all positions of the pitch. The United States backline has some players in Europe but still make mental errors and I struggle to believe they'll be able to cope with the changes in pace and creativity that the likes of Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, Mason Mount, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Marcus Rashford, and more offer. That's the difference. All of those players are incredibly skilled on the ball, can unlock defenses with passes, and maneuver around defenders at will.
Defensively I worry about England being anchored by John Stones and Harry McGuire, but the two have largely performed well for the national team. The United States might sneak one by the Three Lions, but it won't be enough to generate a point. Even against Wales the US only put up one shot on target, and they've been known to struggle to put things together moving forward against teams in North America. Take England confidently to put out the American flame.
Pick: England -1 -125 (1u)