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Spain v Costa Rica and Belgium v Canada: Liam Flin's betting tips

The World Cup is in full swing and attention turns to Groups E and F on Wednesday, with the Racing Post’s Liam Flin giving us his thoughts on Spain v Costa Rica and Belgium v Canada.

Spain can grind out victory against ageing Costa Rica in Group E

What: Spain v Costa Rica, World Cup Group E

Where: Al Thumama Stadium, Al Thumama

When: 16.00pm, Wednesday 23rd November 2022

How to watch: ITV1

Odds: Spain 1/7, Draw 13/2, Costa Rica 22/1

Spain gave a great account of themselves at Euro 2020, taking eventual champions Italy to penalties in the tournament's semi-finals, and many anticipate a bright future for the current La Roja crop.

A midfield featuring young starlets Pedri and Gavi shows immense promise and the team also excelled at the most recent edition of the Nations League, qualifying for the finals after topping Group A2 ahead of Portugal, Switzerland and Czech Republic.

One criticism of the team is the lack of a world class out-and-out striker, with Alvaro Morata still unable to shake off the doubters in some quarters.

The former Juventus striker missed far too many opportunities at Euro 2020 and that lack of end product could haunt Spain in the World Cup's latter stages.

Tight tussle in Al Thumama

And although they should have enough to see off Costa Rica in their Group E opener, punters should not experience a pummeling from Spain.

Costa Rica became the final team to qualify for the World Cup earlier this year, beating New Zealand in the inter-confederation playoffs, and their squad has an ageing feel to it with Keylor Navas, Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell still their most notable talents.

But with age comes experience and there is plenty of that in their rearguard, who can limit the damage against a Spain team known for their struggles in the final third.

With that in mind, a bet on a Spain Win and Under 2.5 Goals could represent value at 21/10.

Those after a goalscorer bet, meanwhile, could do worse than back Pablo Sarabia at 6/5 in the Anytime Goalscorers market with the winger having struck twice in his team's recent Nations League campaign.

Canadians could cause problems for unconvincing Belgium

What: Belgium v Canada, World Cup Group F

Where: Al Rayyan Stadium

When: 19.00pm, Wednesday 23rd November 2022

How to watch: ITV1

Odds: Belgium 1/2, Draw 10/3, Canada 11/2

Belgium finished third at the last World Cup in Russia but there is tempered enthusiasm around the team's chances in Qatar.

For starters, forwards Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard have not been at their best for their clubs and there are concerns over the duo's fitness heading into the tournament.

As for the rest of their squad, the fact that veterans Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen are still featuring suggests options are limited at the back and this may not be a tournament to remember for the Red Devils.

They chalked up a few decent wins in the recent Nations League campaign but were hammered 4-1 by the Netherlands at home and lost to them 1-0 away and it is hard to see them going deep in the tournament.

Canadian firepower

Canada, who have not featured at a World Cup since 1986, might seem like soft opening opponents for Belgium but punters should not be surprised to see the North American outfit put up a fight.

The Maple Leafs finished above the likes of Mexico and the USA in Concacaf World Cup qualifying and recorded wins over Qatar and Japan in the build-up to this tournament.

At the back they may be lacking but Lille forward Jonathan David, who is among the leading scorers in Ligue 1 this season, could cause Belgium problems and is worth a bet at 3/1 in the Anytime Goalscorers market.

Canada can also call on world class wide talent Alphonso Davies, who typically operates further forwards for the national team, as well as handy striker Cyle Larin.

They have the players to unsettle Belgium's ageing defence and should sniff blood when these sides lock horns at the Al Rayyan Stadium.

With that in mind, both teams to score makes appeal at 4/5, while Canada could also be worth chancing at +1 on the Handicap Result at 6/4.

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