It’s finally underway. The FIFA 2022 World Cup has kicked off, and with the formalities of an opening ceremony and the first match completed, we can now look forward to a group phase that is sure to throw up a real footballing feast.

With the first of the 64 matches complete, your World Cup betting plans can well and truly get started in earnest. The squads are in, and the players are in Qatar, ready for the travails and potential tragedies that lie in store, so it’s time to get stuck in!

Ecuador Make Light Work of Qatar

Anyone who had a World Cup bet on Qatar actually achieving anything from a footballing perspective may well have to re-think their approach, as the hosts were well and truly pulled apart by an Ecuadorian side that could easily have annihilated their opponents.

After an initial goal was ruled out for reasons that are still not entirely clear, former West Ham man Enner Valencia scored the first goal of the 2022 World Cup from the penalty spot before adding a second with a well-placed header a little while later.

The second half saw the South American side take their collective feet off the pedal and will have left fellow group nations the Netherlands and Senegal wondering just how many they might fire past Qatar when they get to take them on later in the month.

Given that a great deal of the talk ahead of the big kick-off had nothing to do with the footballing side of the World Cup, it is, in a way, good to be able to concentrate on the activities on the field of play and, as opening games at World Cup’s go, this one was a more entertaining one than most. 

England to Thump Iran?

On day two of the World Cup, England are set to face Iran in Al Rayyan, and no doubt there will be an extended lunch break taken by the entire country as Gareth Southgate’s side look to get started in this tournament with something of a goal-fest.

So, how many goals will England score against their lowly opponents?

When it comes to the World Cup betting odds, many bookies appear to feel that three or four goals are on the cards, but that may well be a rather conservative estimate.

One thing is for sure, if you’ve backed Harry Kane to finish the World Cup with a Golden Boot, much as he did in Russia four years ago, then this clash with Iran will certainly be a good starting point for the Tottenham goal machine.

Much of the talk is around just who will line up in the final third alongside Kane, with many hoping that the young in-form pair Phil Foden of Bukayo Saka gets the nod over the likes of Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish, two players who are very much relying upon their reputations and not their current form as factors in their selection.

Winning an opening group game is critical for any World Cup nation, and nothing less than a big victory is needed from Southgate; indeed, the margin of wins against Iran (which no doubt Wales and the United States will achieve) could prove crucial when it comes to the final layout of the group.

Great Game for the Neutral

The late afternoon game will see reigning African Cup of Nations holders Senegal, minus Bayern Munich star Sadio Mane, take on the Netherlands in a game that is very much a game for the neutral. 

These two teams are relatively evenly matched though the Dutch will, of course, have more household names among their team lists. 

It should be noted that Senegal is more than just Mane, and Premier League fans can expect to see players such as Chelsea pair Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly, Everton’s Idrissa Gueye and fellow midfielders Nampalys Mendy and Cheikhou Kouyate, of Leicester City and Nottingham Forest respectively, to play a part at the 2022 World Cup.

Dutch coach Louis van Gaal, who is in his third spell in charge of the national team, will expect his side to emerge from Group A victorious, but this clash will be far closer than many might instinctively feel it should be.

Nailed On Draw

World Cup betting fans should back the evening game between the United States and Wales to end in a draw. Of all the games in the group phase, and there are 48 of them, this encounter is one of the most nailed-on stalemates you can have the hope of predicting. 

Both teams will look to secure a berth in the Round of 16 behind England, and as such, both teams need three points from this clash, which takes place at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, and that’s why both teams will, in the end, settle for a point.