World Cup weekend best bets: Argentina to expose Australia

Simon M Bruty / Getty Images Sport / Getty

With the group stage in the rearview, we're entering the heart of the World Cup - where each match is do or die.

Let's take a look at a couple of sides worth backing in the first day of the knockout stages.

Netherlands (-110) vs. USA (+320)
Dec. 3, 10 a.m. EST

The Netherlands breezed its way through Group A without ever really hitting full gear - and it didn't need to. The Oranje earned seven of a possible nine points and posted the fourth-highest goal differential in the entire tournament.

The Dutch simply possess so much ability that they can play a somewhat conservative game and still get consistent results based on their edge in raw talent.

I expect the Oranje will be able to do just that against the USMNT.

The United States put forth rather pedestrian performances in the group stage. It scored just twice, ranked last in the group in expected goals, and posted a negative goal difference.

That's concerning given the lack of competition it faced outside of an England side that was more focused on preventing goals than scoring them.

If the United States couldn't generate many opportunities against a weak group of teams, it'll likely struggle to do so versus a backline led by Virgil van Dijk.

When they're able to get past the defense, the Americans will also have to find a way past Andries Noppert - who stopped 10 of 11 shots he faced.

The Netherlands should be able to get the better of the chances in this fixture. Its clear edge in talent across every position will likely prove fruitful.

Look for the Oranje to take care of business inside 90 minutes.

Bet: Netherlands (-110)

Argentina (-500) vs. Australia (+1300)
Dec. 3, 2 p.m. EST

Australia's qualification through the group stage is one of the stories of the tournament. The Socceroos were belted by France in their opening game but responded by picking up back-to-back wins against Tunisia and Denmark.

Don't let those results fool you, though: Australia is littered with red flags. Offensively, the Aussies generated only 1.7 expected goals over three games, struggling to create quality or quantity in the final third. Concerning.

They were even worse without the ball, conceding 5.6 expected goals (1.8 per game), ranking 30th out of 32 teams.

Sure, Australia conceded a good chunk of that 5.6 against a very talented France team. But look at who Australia is facing now.

A date with Lionel Messi, Julian Alvarez, Lautaro Martinez, and Co. isn't exactly cause for a sigh of relief.

This Argentina squad is very talented, and its process is equally strong. No team still standing posted a higher expected goal differential (plus-5.2) in the group stage. The Argentines should have plenty of confidence considering their process led to results.

After an upset defeat to Saudi Arabia despite dominating the game, Argentina picked up consecutive multi-goal victories over Mexico and Poland. It's not a stretch to say both those sides are as good or better than Australia.

Argentina should dominate the ball in this match. With such an extreme talent discrepancy, there's every reason to believe the score will reflect that.

Back the Argentines to pick up their third multi-goal win in a row.

Bet: Argentina -1.5 (-155)

Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.

World Cup weekend best bets: Argentina to expose Australia
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