Best bet for Cameroon-Switzerland
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On a personal level, I am so excited about this game because it is the first one I will attend in my World Cup adventure in Qatar.
African teams have, in all honesty, gone backward in recent years and have not delivered on the promise that Cameroon offered when they burst onto the world scene in Italia 90. Their approach and direct play were so fresh, and it looked like African football was going to be a major force, if not the major force, in World football, but this has not transpired. No African team has ever won the World Cup, and I do not expect that to change in 2022 in Qatar. African teams have yet to win a match in this World Cup after Senegal lost to the Netherlands and Tunisia drew with Denmark.
In truth, this Cameroon team appears to be a shadow of that 1990 side, and they arrive here in terrible form. Their poor results in recent World Cup qualifying matches will not fill them with confidence. They have just one win to show in their last five matches, which was a close hard-fought 1-0 victory over Burundi.
The big positive for Cameroon, on the surface anyway, would be the conditions and climate. However, this has not been as big a factor as many anticipated. The pitchside temperatures have not been as sweltering as many feared thanks to the stadium air conditioning units. The not-as-oppressive temperatures have made it a more level playing field, if you will excuse the pun, for the nations from milder climates. That could be bad news for Cameroon, who need every advantage they can get in this World Cup, as they bring what looks like a threadbare squad. Their coach, Rigobert Song, will need frontman Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to be firing on all cylinders.
Unlike Cameroon, Switzerland arrived in Qatar in good form. They impressed recently in a tough Nations League group containing Spain and Portugal. They also topped Group C in qualification, forcing reigning European Champions Italy to settle for second place.
Switzerland recently lost a friendly to another African side, Ghana, but they made changes in that game, and I take their impressive win over Spain in Zaragoza as a much stronger form guide. The Swiss know how to perform when it counts on the big stage, which they proved with a famous win over France in the European Championship. Their stamina seemed to give way against Spain in the quarterfinal, but they held on for a draw before going out on penalties.
Swiss coach Murat Yakin will be delighted his big players are here in Qatar in top form. None more so than Swiss and Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka who is in the form of his life. His commanding performances this season are a key reason why Arsenal go into this World Cup break as the EPL leaders.
Their one minor issue is injury concerns for keeper Yann Sommer who is struggling to get back to full fitness after an ankle problem. Even with that issue, Switzerland is a far better side than a Cameroon team who look to be going backward. I take Switzerland to get their World Cup adventure off to a winning start, and I will be cheering them on from the stands at a very nice price of -133
Pick: Switzerland ML -133