Betting on the United States-Iran World Cup Match

Other Nov 29, 2022

Today's United States-Iran match at the 2022 World Cup offers an ideal betting opportunity for sports gamblers who understand the critical importance of value.

It's the quintessential illustration of the handicapping maxim: "don't bet teams, don't bet players--bet numbers."

The United States-Iran game is all about numbers.

TeamUSA is favored to win, and rightly so.  The Americans are priced at -105.  Iran is priced at +335.  The Draw is priced at +255.

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Betting a game of this magnitude, with complex implications for both teams that go far beyond the realm of sport, skews betting markets.  So, a little objectivity can go a long way.

Is there any question that global betting markets are skewed in favor of TeamUSA?  The overwhelming public sentiment is slanted towards the Americans and against the Iranians.  Casual bettors in overwhelming numbers and dollars are wagering on the United States .  Iran's betting constituency is practically non-existent.  Add in the sense of urgency for TeamUSA to win, and this skews betting markets even more so.  The Americans must win this game, or else they're eliminated from this year's World Cup.

But there's just as much urgency for Iran: A win means they advance to the knockout round.  A draw is also good for Iran, since it means they have a good chance of advancing based on tiebreakers.  Let's agree both teams are very motivated in this game, though Iran would also be reasonably pleased with a draw.

And that's where the value is -- betting the draw in the United States-Iran match.

I'm betting the draw at +255.  Note:  There's probably some value on Iran at +335 also.

TeamUSA has played 2 World Cup games, so far.  Both ended in draws. Moreoever, in TeamUSA's 4 preliminary matches leading up to this year's World Cup, 2 ended in draws.  So, TeamUSA has played to a draw in 4 of their last 6 matches.  Iran's four preliminary matches leading up to the World Cup included 1 draw and 3 one-goal games.

There's also some betting stigma with many fans when it comes to betting the draw.  Few spectators and viewers want to spend hours getting involved in a game only to see the final result end in a tie.  Hence, betting markets sweeten the temptation by inflating that number.  This adds to value on less popular wagering options, like the draw.

Credit TeamUSA for fielding the best World Cup team we've seen in their history.  No matter what happens today, there's no doubt that after decades of disappointments and disaster, the United States is now a legitimate soccer force on the global stage.  Just in the last week, TeamUSA outplayed Wales (but tied 1-1) and was even more impressive versus England (a 0-0 draw), one of this year's World Cup favorites to win it all.  The Americans have nothing to be ashamed of, even if they're eliminated today.  Canada can make a similar claim, simply having made the World Cup qualification.

As for Iran, don't underestimate them.  They beat Wales 2-0.  There's also intense pressure on Iranian players in this match, who are faced with carrying some heavy political burdens in this game.  Many observers have noted that Iran advancing at the World Cup keeps the team in the news and gives them greater leverage within Iran, which is a much-needed element of popular resistance to a repressive regime. When players are competing for ideals that transcend athletics and could even impact their nation and future, that's something that must be taken into account.  

As for predicting the final score, I can't predict what will happen.  Based on odds, TeamUSA should certainly win, and advance.  That's reflected in the numbers.

But those numbers are also skewed.  TeamUSA may win, but they're a bad bet at this number (laying a minus).  The best value here is wagering on the draw.

I'd have the odds as follows:  DRAW at +210 / TEAMUSA +145  / IRAN +330

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-- Nolan Dalla