I’ve been known to counsel futures gambling as the best way to attack any tournament.
To use one common trope as an example, the “Bracketology” sweepstakes of March Madness encourage punters to put down their money on a tremendous long-shot. I suppose there’s no rush of adrenaline quite like nailing 9 picks in a 5-hour span and then trying to pull it off again overnight and the next day. But I wouldn’t know, because I’m not a glutton for misery. By contrast, picking a single NCAA Tournament team and riding-out the Big Dance with a futures pick is mostly a stress-reliever. It simulates the feeling of having a “hometown” team in the event even if there isn’t one.
Futures can be appealing compared to single-game betting too. Why wait for a favorable moneyline on Manchester City (which are rare anyway) when you can round-off a stake with a $15.76 bet and still get a nice bundle o’ bills if they win a final?
But when it comes to international play, gamblers can cheat themselves by not considering ATS or O/U picks on individual fixtures. For instance, it was highly unlikely that Mexico would win the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. No matter how long the odds were on El Tricolor to-win-outright it was mostly a futures market for superstitious “good luck bets” and an easy collection for the bookmaker. In the opening match against a distracted Germany side, however, Mexico’s odds were no laughing matter at all, but rather a serious profit opportunity for those who foresaw the upset.
Merely a glance at the 2019 Copa América odds board indicates that a number of underdogs are being taken too lightly in the 12-team tournament. The Qatar National Team is in Brazil on a special invitation from CONBEMOL, and a rather unpopular pick to win gold at (+10000). That’s a woeful undervaluing of “The Maroons” who recently upset the Samurai Blue of Japan to win the Asian Cup…an even in which Qatar was also underestimated by London and Las Vegas bookies.
Betting on a 100-to-1 payoff line is a conundrum for the gambler, though, and sportsbooks know that. You might believe that a team at 100-to-1 actually has closer to a 75-to-1 or 50-to-1 chance to lift the trophy. That doesn’t mean the wager is likely to pay off.
Is there a better opportunity to catch Qatar at long odds against a favored opponent in Copa América’s extremely-short group stage?
We’re not just here to handicap underdogs. But if just 3 or 4 of the 5 picks below work out in WagerBop’s favor, a positive 1st week of betting on the best in Brazil is just a few recommendations away.
Here are some matches (and markets) to consider as a dozen teams meet to crown a South American champion – or maybe, just maybe, an interloper from another continent.
All moneylines and totals are courtesy of MyBookie.
Sunday 6/16: Paraguay (-133) vs Qatar (+412)
This Group B match-up could be the bettor’s first and foremost opportunity to score an underdog ML winner on the mispriced Qataris.
Yes, the favorites have shown strength in the CONMEBOL championship as recently as 2015. Paraguay’s veteran striker Óscar Cardozo is always a threat to score, and Derlis González is a versatile 2nd banana in the squad’s attack. But the team must also continue to adjust to new skipper Eduardo Berizzo after only a 3-month transition. ‘
But the Maroons have made tremendous strides since Félix Sánchez and his 4-2-3-1 arrived in 2017. Forward Hassan Al-Haydos is an established play-maker and goal striker, while 22-year-old sensation Almoez Ali just set a record for scoring in the Asian Cup. The team’s backline and goalkeeping have been extraordinary in 2019.
Qatar is an unpopular wager partially due to lack of worldwide fan interest caused by the negative press surrounding the 2022 World Cup. Take advantage! The politics and allegations at the top of FIFA concerning an event 3 years away have zilch to do with the outcome of a CONBEMOL tournament happening in the here and now.
Pick: Qatar to win
Tuesday 6/18: Brazil (-625) vs Venezuela (+1425)
The host Brazilians look to break a snide of disappointment in CONBEMOL, failing to advance past the quarterfinals in 3 previous outings.
Prior to the slump, Seleção had earned 4 of the previous 5 Copa América championships in 1997, 1999, 2004, and 2007.
The rape accusations against star forward Neymar have become a dark cloud lingering over the squad heading into Copa América. The Paris Saint-Germain forward has been ruled out of the event with an ankle ligament injury, but that might be just as well if a nasty scandal could further erupt at any time.
In Neymar’s absence, more responsibility will fall on the shoulders of Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus and Liverpool standout Roberto Firmino. The 22-year-old Jesus gets an opportunity to shine on the national stage after 3 strong seasons with Manchester City in which he scored nearly 30 goals in Premier League action. Meanwhile, Firmino’s versatility and creativity to play as an attacking midfielder, forward, or winger has helped Liverpool soar to the top of the UEFA Champions League.
I expect Brazil to beat Venezuela on Tuesday night after a comfortable 3-0 defeat of Bolivia to open the tournament. But what I can’t quite justify is a (3) goal total set for the match at MyBookie. If the gamblers there see a lopsided fixture in favor of a powerful attacking team, shouldn’t the O/U peek even higher despite Allison and Ederson in goal for the favorites?
Pick: Over (3) total goals
Thursday 6/20: Uruguay (-357) vs Japan (+945)
La Celeste has won 15 Copa América and South American Championship titles, the most of any nation. However, recent years brought an end to the good vibes. Uruguay was trounced in the quarterfinals in 2015 and stunningly failed to make it out of the group stage in a special centennial edition of the event in 2016.
Barcelona striker Luis Suárez and Paris-Saint Germain attacker Edinson Cavani will lead the Uruguay front line. The superstars have combined for over 100 goals on the international stage.
23-year-old midfielder Lucas Torreira spent this season with Premier League club Arsenal and will continue to take on more responsibilities for manager Óscar Tabárez, who has led the national squad for over a decade now. Not that Arsenal had a fantastic season holding opponents to clean sheets…but a determined and cohesive CONBEMOL side can be the cure for what ails a player’s incomplete form.
Speaking of incomplete, the Japan National Team that lost to Qatar in the Asian Cup was not nearly as strong as the roster which thrilled supporters in Russia last year, though the Samurai Blue remain high-enough in stature to be included as 1 of 2 CONMEBOL guests from overseas.
Veteran attacking midfielder Shinji Okazaki has spent the last 4 seasons with Leicester City and has scored 50 goals on the international stage. 24-year-old winger Shoya Nakajima looks to add scoring punch after the departure of star Keisuke Honda.
Skipper Hajime Moriyasu is unlikely to play 4 across the back, preferring a 3-4-2-1 formation that could leave the Japanese vulnerable in some circumstances. But on Thursday, I’m expecting Uruguay to rest a few key players during at least part of the match thanks to Japan being sandwiched in-between a tough schedule of opponents in Ecuador and Chile. That leaves the door open for Japan to upset or at least cover.
Pick: Japan (+1.5)
Friday 6/21: Chile (-101) vs Ecuador (+288)
There are a few good reasons to wager on Chile right away. Manchester United forward Alexis Sánchez has over 40 goals in 120+ appearances for the national squad and can play almost anywhere on the pitch. Midfielder Arturo Vidal is part of a world-class Chilean nucleus in midfield alongside studs like Charles Aránguiz. Manager Reinaldo Rueda’s side is likely to employ a 4-2-3-1 formation that could prove more dangerous than bookmakers and gamblers seem to think as the tournament gets rolling.
But the best reason to move on this moneyline right away is that it’s for Matchday 3, and Chile is likely to have racked-up a couple of wins and shortened the line by late in the week.
Ecuador is hoping its fate in Group C will be as sweet as the names of its top players. Veteran Man United defender and national-team captain Antonio Valencia mans the backline, while Enner Valencia is the 2nd-leading goal scorer in Ecuador squad history despite joining up only 7 years ago.
But the event has not been kind to La Tricolor – Ecuador’s surprise visit to the quarterfinals in 2016 was a 1st for the nation.
Pick: Chile (at current odds)
Sunday 6/23: Argentina vs Qatar (No MyBookie Line)
Oddsmakers are hesitant to put out odds for Matchday 3 until a few outcomes are recorded, giving us a chance to forecast a betting line for Lionel Messi and the proud Argentines 9 days into the event.
If Qatar pulls off at least 1 surprise by next Sunday – which I expect the Maroons to – then look for Argentina to have a (-1) or (-2) next to it instead of (-3) and (-5000).
But as underrated as the Asian side might be, Argentina has shown (if nothing else) that the program knows how to rebound and warm to a challenge after any episodes early in a round-robin.
The Atomic Flea is that rare CONMEBOL forward who can break the Qatar backline and score more than once on keeper Saad Al Sheeb, making the Over a potential value-market along with any reasonable ML or spread on Argentina.
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.