This article is part of our World Cup series.
No one is expecting goals in the opening World Cup match. Qatar are only in this tournament because they're hosting it, while Ecuador didn't exactly cruise through qualifying, finishing in the final guaranteed spot in CONMEBOL.
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World Cup Best Bets for Qatar versus Ecuador
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Unfortunately, under 2.5 goals is at -210 after being -165 more than a week before the match, so there's no reason to take that. In fact, I'd rather go the other way and take over 2.5 goals because +160 is incredible value. No matter, there's a lot of different bets to make that involve the under.
Qatar are expected to use a 5-3-2 formation, which isn't too popular at the club level. Maccabi Haifa used it a few times in this season's Champions League and it didn't work for them against better clubs. In the Premier League, Brentford often turn to a 5-3-2 against top teams and that's what they used in a recent win against Manchester City, leading to 19 fewer shots and 25-percent possession but a 2-1 away win. It's a defensive formation for a team that doesn't have the same talent as opponents, and Qatar's hope is that they'll get a goal or two off counters and then sit back.
Unfortunately, Ecuador have a solid defensive group with standout Moises Caicedo in the midfield and Pervis Estupinan at left-back, both playing in the Premier League at Brighton. Center-back Piero Hincapie at just 20 years old and playing for Bayer Leverkusen is another notable piece. Ecuador haven't allowed a goal in their last five matches (all friendlies) and allowed the third-fewest goals in qualifying behind Brazil and Argentina.
In what should be a more defensive contest unless Ecuador really open things up, 'No' on both teams to score is my first look. I think both teams are in play to go scoreless with nerves high in the opener. However, as the opening World Cup match, the odds are changing at a wild rate. I found this bet at -120 a week prior to the match but a couple days beforehand I can only find -140. I'm sorry I didn't post this article two weeks ago.
If I had to pick a side, it'd be Ecuador at +135 (+110 a week ago), but I don't want to bet against the home team in the opener. That burned me with what I thought was a bad Russia team in 2018, as well as 2010 when South Africa snuck a point from Mexico. If you like Ecuador to win, I think taking them to win with a clean sheet at +256 (at FanDuel) is the better move.
On the other side of that, Qatar to win with a clean sheet is +374.
If you're worried about the home team grabbing a goal or two off the counter, I'd look at corner bets. As long as Ecuador don't score in the first 30 minutes, I think it's safe to assume they'll lead this match in corners. You can get Ecuador +110 in a Race to six corners.
To win money quicker, you can get +135 odds on there to be no goals scored in the first half. Again, this bet was +160 more than a week before the match. I think Ecuador will want to get their footing first before pushing too many bodies forward and that could mean a mostly slow first half without many opportunities. You can also parlay this first-half bet with corners and take under 4.5, which is pretty good value at +275.
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World Cup Betting Picks Sunday, Nov. 20
- Ecuador Race to 6 Corners +110
- No goals in the first half +135
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