So the World Cup is almost here. The United States won’t be participating. And you, the diehard USMNT follower, or the casual sports fan, are struggling to develop a true rooting interest from scratch. What do you do?
Fantasy soccer games aren’t all that appealing, nor is a March Madness-style bracket pool. So we’ve come up with just what you need: Let’s call it the Bushnell World Cup Prop Bet Challenge.
You could, of course, go out and make actual bets. But this is much more fun. Below are 64 props – over/unders, yes/no questions, either/or picks – of all kinds. There are Golden Boot props, Vladimir Putin props, favorite and underdog props, VAR props, Fox broadcast props and so much more.
So pull together a group of friends, just like you would for a bracket pool. Choose as many or as few of the props as you’d like. Put money on the line if you so desire. Break out a spreadsheet, make your picks and watch as your World Cup viewing experience is transformed. One point per correct pick. Most points wins.
Or play with us. Enter your picks on this Google Doc before the opener, just like I have. And follow along throughout the next month. Without further ado, let’s get to the props:
Category 1: Kickoff
1. Will a country not named Uruguay, Spain, Portugal, France, Argentina, Croatia, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, England, Belgium, Colombia or Poland make the quarterfinals?
2. Over/Under 2.5 nations in the quarterfinals that have never won a World Cup before.
Nations that have won a World Cup in the field: Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Uruguay, Spain, England, France.
3. Who will win the World Cup: Brazil/Germany/Spain or the field?
4. Over/Under 3.5 combined dropped points by Germany, Spain and Brazil in the group stage.
Three total group stage matches; 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw, 0 for a loss.
5. Will Uruguay, Spain, France, Brazil and Germany all win their groups?
All five must top their groups for a “yes” bet to win; if at least one finishes second or below, “no” wins.
6. Over/Under 1 top seed doesn’t advance from its group.
Top seeds: Russia, Portugal, France, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Belgium, Poland.
Category 2: Superlatives, goals
7. Will the Golden Ball winner be European?
The Golden Ball is awarded to the best player at the tournament.
8. Will the Golden Boot winner be European?
The Golden Boot is awarded to the top scorer at the tournament. Assists are the tiebreaker.
9. Who will be the top-scoring team: Brazil/Germany/Spain or other?
10. Will the Golden Ball winner come from La Liga (Spain)/the Bundesliga (Germany), or the field?
In cases of mid-World Cup transfers, the player is considered to be affiliated with the club he represented at the end of the 2017-18 season.
11. Will the Golden Boot winner come from La Liga/Ligue 1 (France)?
Same note as No. 10.
12. Over/Under 5.5 goals for the Golden Boot winner.
13. Top-scoring club: Manchester City/Paris Saint-Germain or other?
Same note as No. 10 and 11. And to be clear: This is NOT, “who will score more goals, players from Man City and PSG or everybody else?” It’s, “if you were to tally up World Cup goals by club, which club will have the most? And will that club be either Man City or PSG?”
14. Over/Under 10.5 goals scored by Serie A players.
Same note as No. 10, 11 and 13.
15. Will the tournament’s highest-scoring match involve Belgium, France or Argentina?
If there is a tie between two or more matches, and at least one does involve Belgium, France or Argentina and at least once doesn’t, the bet is a push.
Category 3: Continents
16. Over/Under 9 European teams in the knockout round.
17. Over/Under 4 South American teams in the knockout round.
18. Over/Under 1.5 African teams in the knockout round.
19. Over/Under 1 North/Central American team in the knockout round.
20. Over/Under 0.5 Asian teams in the knockout round.
21. Over/Under 17.5 group stage points for African nations.
22. Over/Under 9.5 group stage points for Asian nations.
23. Over/Under 8.5 group stage points for CONCACAF nations.
Category 4: ‘Murica
24. Will Panama outscore the United States at the 2018 World Cup?
To be clear: If both score zero, the U.S. side of the bet wins.
25. Will the U.S., Canada and Mexico be awarded 2026 World Cup hosting rights on June 13?
If neither the North American bid nor the Moroccan bid wins the June 13 vote, that’s a no.
If you make your picks after the vote (Wednesday morning), skip this one.
26. Over/Under 1 goal for MLS players.
There are 19 at the tournament.
27. Over/Under 1.5 knockout round starts for MLS players.
28. Will there be a controversy involving American referee Mark Geiger?
29. Over/Under 1.5 “ARE YOU SERIOUS!?!?” calls by lead Fox play-by-play broadcaster John Strong.
30. Over/Under 4.5 botched calls or moments of general confusion from Fox broadcasters calling games off monitors in Los Angeles.
31. Over/Under 4.5 mentions that Iceland is the smallest nation to ever appear at a World Cup by Fox’s match commentators.
Important: “Match commentators.” So studio shows don’t count. But if the studio show cuts away to the match commentators for a pregame segment and they mention it, that does count.
Category 5: Headliners, club combos
32. Will a World Cup debutant win a game?
World Cup debutants: Panama and Iceland.
33. Who will score more goals, Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo?
34. Over/Under 4 goals scored by an Argentina player not named Lionel Messi.
“Own goal” is not the name of an Argentina player, last we checked.
35. Will Neymar be Brazil’s top scorer?
36. Will Thomas Muller be Germany’s top scorer?
37. Over/Under 6.5 combined goals for Tottenham’s Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen.
38. Over/Under 5.5 combined goals for Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
39. Over/Under 8.5 combined goals for PSG’s Edinson Cavani, Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Tim Weah.
40. Over/Under 9.5 combined goals for Barcelona’s* Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann.
*See what we did there?
Category 6: The Suarez bite
41. Will Luis Suarez bite someone?*
*IMPORTANT: If you pick “yes,” and Suarez does indeed bite someone, you win the entire prop bet competition outright. If multiple contestants pick “yes,” and Suarez does indeed bite someone, everyone who picked “no” is eliminated.
Category 7: Extracurricular activities
42. Will a player be sent home for non-injury reasons while his team is still in the tournament?
“Be sent home,” not “leave.” So if a player jets home in between games to attend to a family emergency or something, that doesn’t count. We’re likely talking disciplinary reasons here.
43. Over/Under 2.5 FIFA statements reprimanding fans for racism or homophobia.
44. Will there be a halftime shirt swap caught on camera?
45. Over/Under 4.5 VAR s—storms.
You’ll know a VAR s—storm when you see/hear it.
46. Over/Under 4.5 calls changed by VAR in the knockout stages.
This includes penalties overturned or awarded after review, goals overturned or given after review, and red cards overturned or given after review.
47. Will Russia be awarded a penalty, OR will a red card be shown to a Russian opponent?
Either a red or a penalty – just one of the two – wins you a “yes” bet.
48. Over/Under 4.5 match appearances by Vladimir Putin.
49. Over/Under 1.5 seats between Putin and Sepp Blatter, if Blatter appears at the World Cup.
If Blatter does not attend a single game, the bet is a push. But he has said he’ll be there.
Category 8: Lineups
50. Over/Under 9.5 players who have previously started a Champions League final starting in the 2018 World Cup final.
51. Over/Under 6.5 Premier League players starting in the World Cup final.
As with No. 10, 11, 13 and 14, the player must have ended the 2017-18 season with a Premier League club.
52. Over/Under 12 Tottenham/Manchester City players that appear in the England-Belgium game.
Appear, as in see the field either as a starter or a substitute.
53. Over/Under 1.5 goalkeepers who play for England.
Not start; play. At any time.
54. Over/Under 6 different clubs represented in a single Spain lineup at any time.
Same rules apply as No. 10, 11, 13, 14 and 52.
55. Over/Under 3.5 Marco Asensio substitute appearances.
56. Over/Under 3.5 different starting lineups for France.
If, say, the lineup changes from the first to the second game, then again from the second to the third game, but the third is the same as the first, that is only two different lineups.
57. Will Paul Pogba start every game for France?
58. Over/Under 4 different starting lineups for Argentina.
Same note as No. 56.
59. Over/Under 2.5 different starting lineups for Mexico.
Same note as No. 56 and 58.
Category 9: Betrayal
60. Over/Under 9.5 goals scored by players born outside the nation they are representing.
61. Over/Under 3.5 goals scored by players against the nation whose league they play in.
Category 10: Stoppage time
62. Who will score more combined goals for Mexico: Players based in countries where English is the primary language, players based in countries where Spanish is the primary language, or other?
There are three different picks here, rather than two: English, Spanish, or other.
63. Will at least one of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Australia, Iceland, South Korea, Tunisia and Panama advance to the Round of 16?
64. Over/Under 3.5 winners or equalizers scored in the second-half or second-half-of-extra-time stoppage time?
There were six in 2014.
As mentioned above, all 64 props are on this spreadsheet. Come see if you can out-pick us. And please do notify me on Twitter when there is a Blatter sighting, or broadcaster confusion, or anything that hits one of the props.
Or just pick 20 of these and have some fun with your friends. That, in the end, is what this is about.
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More World Cup coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• 2018 World Cup preview hub
• Ranking the top 100 players at the World Cup
• FC Yahoo Mixer: The Ronaldo vs. Messi debate
• A tactical guide to the 2018 World Cup
• How Vladimir Putin can use the World Cup to his benefit