Mexico and Poland Suddenly See an Opening After Argentina Upset

by 24USATVNov. 22, 2022, 5:20 p.m. 17
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Saudi Arabia’s shocking 2-1 World Cup win over Lionel Messi and Argentina on Tuesday in Qatar was a huge upset. But how big was it? One way to quantify the surprise is to look at the betting odds.

Odds vary slightly from bookmaker to bookmaker and can change in the days and hours leading up to a game. But most oddsmakers made Saudi Arabia an 18-1 to 20-1 underdog to win the game. If you had bet $100 on the unlikely upset, then, you would have got your $100 back, plus $1,800 to $2,000 more.

In contrast, if you had bet Argentina you would very likely have been offered odds between 1-7 and 1-10. That means you might well have had to put up $1,000 just to have a chance to win $100. Bettors who like such wagers on big favorites are sometimes known as “bridge jumpers,” because when they do lose they might be looking for the nearest bridge.

You could also bet that the game would end in a draw, with odds of about 7-1 or 8-1. It might seem humdrum to bet that a game will wind up tied, but people do it. Those bettors were no doubt happy when the score was 1-1 but less so when Saudi Arabia scored the winner. Point spread betting like in football and basketball is not as popular for soccer, but is available in many places, and is particularly popular in Asia. Argentina was a 2- or 2½-goal favorite, a spread they didn’t come close to covering. Saudi Arabia was considered, along with Costa Rica, the unlikeliest of teams to win the World Cup before it started, with prices of 1,000-1 or more readily available. One win over Argentina, no matter how memorable, will not win them the World Cup. But their odds have dropped to 300-1. As for Argentina, bookmakers are mostly keeping the faith that they can fare better against Mexico and Poland and still advance to the knockout stage of the tournament. Their odds to win of 5-1 have slipped only slightly, to 7-1.

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