World Cup Wednesday best bets: Canada to hang with Belgium
Another day, another four games of glorious World Cup action. Let's look at the best ways to attack it.
Spain is going to be one of the most fascinating teams to follow in this tournament. It's loaded with talent but going through somewhat of a changing of the guard. It's the first time on the biggest stage for many of the team's best players, which means there'll likely be a bit of a feeling-out process in the early going of the tournament.
Which young players can handle the pressure? How much youth in the lineup is too much? How will all the pieces fit together? There's a lot for management to figure out.
The good news is Spain's opening game should allow the freedom to experiment while still getting a result.
This Costa Rica team doesn't feature much dynamic talent - especially on the offensive side of the ball. It will be sitting back, absorbing pressure, and hoping its top player - Keylor Navas - can bail the team out when necessary.
I think inviting Spain into the final third and allowing La Roja to dominate the ball is scary, but Costa Rica doesn't have another path to an upset. Los Ticos will no doubt look to use their experience and structure to try and frustrate Spain and make good on the one or two opportunities that come their way.
I think talent will win out on the day. If Spain dominates the ball, it's only a matter of time before a magical moment comes and enables the team to break down Costa Rica.
I expect a bit of an adjustment period, though. I don't see Spain hitting the ground running and piling up goal after goal. It's going to have to feel the game out.
When all is said and done, I expect Spain to win comfortably, but 3.5 goals gives us real wiggle
Bet: Spain and under 3.5 goals (-120)
One thing Canada has really developed over the last couple of years is a level of confidence and fearlessness you'd expect to see from a higher-caliber team. It doesn't much matter who Les Rouges are going up against or what the scoreline says; they will push and push. I think that sort of mentality will serve them well in what will be the first World Cup appearance for the entirety of the roster.
Belgium is a marquee team by name. Its reputation sort of outweighs reality at this point, though. There are questions surrounding The Red Devils' defensive play, the age of the team's core, and their injury situation.
Striker Romelu Lukaku won't be available for the opener against Canada. He is by far Belgium's top scoring threat, sitting 35 goals clear of Eden Hazard - who is past his peak - for the team lead in international goals. Without a natural finisher of Lukaku's caliber, Belgium may struggle to convert on its opportunities.
Belgium still has plenty of talent, and a Kevin De Bruyne-led attack is awfully dangerous, but Lukaku's absence is certainly a relief to Canada's defense.
With Alphonso Davies healthy and Jonathan David establishing himself as a high-end attacking forward, Canada has the dynamic ability needed to really test this Belgium team.
It won't be easy, but I expect Canada to score a goal - perhaps even two - and get something from this game.
Bet: Canada +0.5 (+155)
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.
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