Hello friends, soccer fans, soccer gamblers, and those who are simply looking for a way to avoid work for a few weeks. It’s World Cup time, and as a member of this semi-active sports gambling blog I feel obligated to offer a few picks and plays for the World Cup games. Please do not ask me why I am starting these blogs on Day 2 and do not ask me about my bets on the tournament opener between Qatar and Ecuador.

ENGLAND vs. IRAN (8 am EST)

Two teams who’ve never met each other square off in Monday’s early game. England are huge favorites for the win (-300 or thereabouts depending on your sportsbook of choice) and have an obviously strong team full of Premier League talent that is more known to the common soccer fan. The Iranians aren’t as loaded with familiar names and faces to the common fan but are a defensively sound team. That said, Iran’s best players lead their attacking line, Porto’s Mehdi Taremi and Bayer Leverkusen’s Sardar Azmoun.

Mehdi Taremi

If this game goes to plan for England, their skill will trump Iran’s defensive block. They’ll likely be forced to play through Iran who will sacrifice possession for sound defensive position. Iran will be relying on counterattacking and has the clinical finishing up front to capitalize on the quick chances they’ll look to create.

THE BET:

England to win and under 2.5 goals +165

SENEGAL vs. NETHERLANDS (11 am EST)

Senegal unfortunately made headlines before the start of the World Cup with the news that Sadio Mane would be missing the tournament due to a fibula injury and subsequent surgery. Mane was injured in a Bundesliga match playing for Bayern Munich against Werder Bremen. It’s a huge blow to the AFCON champs, who’s options to replace Mane on the left wing won’t come close to his finishing skill. Senegal is strong at the back though, the Kalidou Koulibaly-led defense was the key to Senegal’s AFCON run earlier this year.

Senegal lifts the AFCON trophy

The Dutch missed the 2018 World Cup in Russia and despite their not-so-great kit they are a very fun team and under Louis Van Gaal have become a very good team. They’ll be without one of their stars in Memphis Depay, who is reportedly missing at least this match due to a hamstring injury. Luckily for Van Gaal, there’s plenty of talent capable of scoring goals even without Depay in the team.

THE BETS:

Virgil Van Dijk at least one shot on target +175

Kalidou Koulibaly to get a card +200

Netherlands win and under 2.5 goals +205

USA vs. WALES (2 pm EST)

Alright my fellow Americans, despite the struggles of the unfortunately-acronymed USMNT, they are back in the World Cup after wokely not qualifying for a Russian World Cup in 2018. The American team has a lot of young talent and promise but lack attacking edge. Writing this as an American Chelsea fan, Christian Pulisic is a frustrating figure. Pulisic is highly athletically gifted yet lacking true goal-scoring quality and the team can’t rely on just him for goals.

Gregg with three G’s Berhalter can draw up, well, not much of an offensive scheme. It will be up to the talent on the pitch to create, and midfield star Weston McKennie is also nursing an injury despite Berhalter saying McKennie will play in some way, either starting or from the bench.

Wales is in their first World Cup in a whopping 64 years(!!) and will have the entire country behind them on Monday afternoon. Gareth Bale took his talents to Los Angeles this year just to stay sharp for the occasion and had undoubtedly the most important goal of the MLS season. Bale headed home a 128th minute extra time equalizer for LAFC in the MLS Cup Final, which LA won on penalties.

Wales will be without crucial midfielder Joe Allen, who plays for Swansea in the English Championship. Allen has been a big part of Wales’ Euro teams, including the Welsh team that went to the Euro semis in 2016.

BETS:

USA or draw double chance + under 2.5 goals parlay +105

Christian Pulisic 2 or more shots on goal +275

Open wide for some soccer!