World Cup Qualifying: The best player prop bets for Lukaku, Griezmann, and Chiesa
Domestic football makes way for World Cup Qualifying this weekend, as teams across Europe attempt to cement their hopes for glory in Qatar next year by taking another leap towards topping the group. We’re still more than a year away from the Winter World Cup, but there’s plenty at stake this week with some of the bigger nations trying to avoid any more shocking qualification slip-ups.
With the pressure mounting, here are three star strikers set to shine on the biggest stage.
Belgium vs. Czech Republic: Romelu Lukaku to score a goal (-124)
There are very few certainties in international soccer – but England losing on penalties and Romelu Lukaku scoring in every game for Belgium are right up there as close as you can get. Forget the favorable match-up against Czech Republic for a second, and let’s just soak in the glory of some Lukaku numbers.
In the last two years, he has scored 18 goals in 18 games for his country, including another two on Thursday against Estonia. Last year for Inter Milan, he scored 30 goals in 44 games, and the year previous he scored 34 goals in 51 games. For his club in the last two years, he has scored a goal every 80 minutes. That is breathtaking.
Lukaku is Belgium’s record goalscorer at just 28 years old with 66 in just 99 games. Tonight marks his 100th cap for his national side, so he will no doubt love to mark the occasion by getting on the scoresheet again.
Belgium have won 12 of their last 15 games, drawing the other three in 90 minutes, while Czech Republic have won just four of their last 10. These teams met in World Cup Qualifying in March and drew 1-1, with who else finding the net but Romelu Lukaku. Back on home soil, Belgium should be able to rack up three points here with their star striker leading the line.
Switzerland vs. Italy: Federico Chiesa to score a goal (+235)
Italy may be European Champions, but it’s not always easy sailing for the Azzurri. Two points dropped in World Cup Qualifying at home to Bulgaria earlier this week means there’s a little bit of pressure on them to go and get a result away to Switzerland.
The Italians beat Switzerland 3-0 at Euro 2020, but that was Switzerland’s only loss inside 90 minutes in their last 13 games, and that includes knocking out France in the Euros and taking Spain to penalties.
But when the chips are down, Chiesa steps up. He may not be as prolific as Ciro Immobile or Lorenzo Insigne, but he seems to excel when his country needs him most.
He scored the opening goal against Austria in extra-time of their Last 16 clash at Euro 2020, and then broke the deadlock against Spain in that thrilling semi-final. Confidence will be high after he found the net against Bulgaria earlier this week, and he can add another goal to his international tally as Italy look to cement their position on top of Qualifying Group C.
Ukraine vs. France: Antoine Griezmann to score a goal (+180)
Depending on how you want to spin France’s recent record, you can make the reigning World Champions look very good or open to criticism. If you were very pro-France, you’d point out that they have only lost one of their last 25 games and are hotly tipped to win the World Cup in 2022. If you’re anti-France, you could retort that the French have only won one of their last five and threw away a two-goal lead as they crashed out of Euro 2020 to Switzerland.
All the above is true – football is almost worse than politics. Almost.
Whatever way you look at it, France have already dropped points to Ukraine and Bosnia in their qualifying group and need a win away to the Ukraine this weekend to give themselves some breathing room at the top.
With the pressure cranking up, look to Antoine Griezmann to find the back of the net. He’s scored six goals in his last 10 games for France, which is nothing compared to Lukaku’s record, but is still very much a quality return. He should be full of confidence after completing a loan move back to his beloved Atletico Madrid on the last day of the transfer window, and he followed it up by finding the net for France earlier this week.
Griezmann was overshadowed by the superstar names of Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe during the Euros, while Karim Benzema bagged four of France’s seven goals. But he is still one of the deadliest strikers on their squad, and should be confidently backed to get a couple of chances on Saturday.