World Cup specials markets: Goals on the rise, early baths on the slide
- Goalscoring at international level has increased over the last few years and red cards are down
- Costa Rica have been drawn in a 'group of death' alongside Spain, Japan and Germany
- Recommended bets:
- Over 163.5 tournament goals
- Costa Rica to lose all their group games and not score
- Portugal to win all three group games
- Under 8.5 tournament red cards
The waiting is almost over with World Cup 2022 set to get under way on Sunday when hosts Qatar take on Ecuador at 4pm.
Here is our take on some of the specials markets for the showpiece tournament.
Tournament goals: Upward trend could lead to new record
In six previous World Cups featuring 64 matches, there have been totals of 171, 161, 147, 143, 171 and 169 goals scored.
It therefore seems reasonable to expect something of a similar order for the event about to get under way in Qatar.
However, goalscoring at international level has been on the increase in recent years with an average of 3.02 goals per game scored in European qualifying and 2.8 per match across the entire global qualification process.
Team not to score: Costa Rica to struggle against three good defences
Costa Rica have been given a very tough task in Group E against recent World Cup winners Spain and Germany plus a solid Japan side that conceded just four times in the Asian qualifiers.
The Ticos averaged less than a goal per game in their qualifying campaign and failed to find the net in three of their six contests against fellow CONCACAF nations that made it through to the tournament.
Team to lose all group games: Ticos overmatched in toughest group
Luis Fernando Suarez's side were fortunate to make it through qualifying as the last nation to book their place, finishing fourth in a weak CONCACAF qualifying group before benefitting from a couple of tight decisions against New Zealand in their play-off.
The Ticos rely heavily on a core group of veteran players and their relative lack of squad depth could be exposed by playing three games in eight days.
Team to win all group games: Portugal can pick up all nine points
Serbia forced Portugal into the play-offs but Fernando Santos' side have gone from strength to strength in the last few months and ride a wave of optimism into the finals.
The Portuguese, who have been placed in the second-easiest group according to each nation's FIFA world ranking, open up against the tournament's lowest-ranked nation — Ghana — on Thursday.
They then take on a Uruguay side that lost 1-0 to Iran in September and appear to be struggling with the transition from an older, more-successful generation of players to the current crop.
The worry here is that by winning their first two games, Portugal might not field a full-strength line-up for their Group H finale against South Korea.
But when you have the likes of Rafael Leao, Vitinha, Joao Felix and Goncalo Ramos all champing at the bit to get on the pitch, it is not hard to foresee the Euro 2016 winners maintaining a perfect record through the first phase, .
Total tournament red cards: Fewer World Cup villains in VAR era
The introduction of VAR to the World Cup four years ago was widely expected to send the number of red cards soaring — yet only four players were given their marching orders in Russia.
This continued a trend in falling expulsions since the high of 28 red cards shown at Germany 2006.
A theory advanced later was that players knew there was no longer any hiding place for them and that, psychologically, the threat of VAR checking their every misdemeanour forced them to clean up their own games.
Four years down the line, it will be interesting to see if the pattern of fewer players beings sent off continues.
A lot will depend on the referees and their pre-tournament instructions, but it seems unlikely that too much will change.
Qatar 2022 Squads: They Score, You Score!
LiveScore Bet’s World Cup 2022 Squads is free and simple to play. Log in to view the Squads page, where you’ll get the chance to reveal up to five players. Your squad will earn you cash for each goal scored in the listed games. Reveal each player at the stated time throughout the round to complete your line-up. T&Cs apply – .