World Cup 2018: Group-by-Group Preview and Predictions
The defending champions from Germany were the favourites leading up to the tournament, but online sportsbooks are pegging five-time champion Brazil as the club to beat at +400. The Brazilians haven’t looked this good in many years, but this tournament boasts several clubs that can run the gauntlet and take the World Cup title in Russia. Let’s break down and analyze all eight groups in the 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament. Odds are courtesy of Bodog.
Teams: Uruguay (-140), Russia (+200), Egypt (+700), Saudi Arabia (+4000)
Overview: Uruguay is the overwhelming favourite a Group A that doesn’t really have a clear-cut runner up leading up to the opening day of action. The Russian national team will be motivated by competing in front of its home fans, but is a legitimate contender to advance to the knockout stage. Better yet, bet on Egypt to finish second at +275 — a line offered at Bodog.eu.
Bargain wager: Uruguay isn’t much of a sexy pick to top Group A at -140 and while it will be tough to take down the South American giants, consider putting your money down on Egypt.
Prediction: Uruguay has won the World Cup twice, but the last time was nearly 70 years ago. If star striker Luis Suarez can keep his temper in check (and curb the biting) then Uruguay should have no problem topping Group A and advancing deep into the tournament.
Teams: Spain (-200), Portugal (+225), Morocco (+1600), Iran (+2800)
Overview: It’s hard to pick a “Group of Death” in this tournament, but this would be the closest to it as Spain and Portugal will clash in the division that also consists of World Cup longshots Morocco and Iran.
Bargain wager: Spain comes in as the odds-on favourites to win the group, but after a glorious Champions League run, expect many bettors to back Cristiano Ronaldo and the Portugal national side. At +225, it is a great bargain to put your money on Portugal to win the group.
Prediction: Spain dominated the international football scene from 2010 to 2104, winning a World Cup and two Euro crowns. With a new class of talent working its way through the system, La Furia Roja will be a team to beat in the tournament. However, put your money on Ronaldo, who is playing the best soccer of his life right now.
Teams: France (-275), Denmark (+475), Peru (+800), Australia (+2200)
Overview: On paper, France’s national soccer team matches with the best clubs in the world. The question is whether Les Bleus can put it together to take down the other giants in this tournament. Without question, France should ease through group stage at -275 to top their division.
Bargain wager: Denmark will be a trendy pick in this tournament because of the young talent the team boasts, led by Christian Eriksen. Peru and Australia may not even win a game in group play, making Demark an easy pick to possibly top Group C at +475, but even a better pick at +135 to place second.
Prediction: France has won the World Cup once — 20 years ago on home soil. Expect Les Bleus to easily come out of their group and make another serious run at World Cup championship in Russia.
Teams: Argentina (-160), Croatia (+230), Nigeria (+1100), Iceland (+1400)
Overview: Lionel Messi’s future with Argentina’s national club depends on how the country performs at the 2018 World Cup. However, the superstar footballer wants to go out on a high note as Argentina enters the tournament as enticing +900 underdogs to win the championship outright.
Bargain wager: Croatia not only can win this group, but is an outside contender to win the World Cup outright. Bettors will be jumping at the opportunity to take Croatia at +230 to top Group D. Just be sure to do it before the tournament starts as the line will eventually move as the money comes pouring in.
Prediction: It’s hard to bet against Lionel Messi, who carried the Argentinians to the final four years ago only to fall one win shy of capturing the title. Take Argentina to win Group D and make another run for a World Cup crown in 2018.
Teams: Brazil (-350), Switzerland (+650), Serbia (+750), Costa Rica (+2200)
Overview: Five-time champions Brazil open the World Cup as the odds-on favourites to claim a sixth crown. Brazil is the -350 frontrunner to win it all, something the country has failed to do since 2002. Group E won’t be much of a challenge for the Brazilians, either.
Bargain wager: The race for second place in this group really comes down to two teams — Switzerland and Serbia. The Swiss side has a track record of getting out of the group stage and at +170, expect bettors to lean that way again.
Prediction: Brazil striker Neymar has promised this will be a great year for the country when it competes in the World Cup. With an easy pass to the knockout stage, watch for Brazil to make a deep run and win a record sixth title.
Teams: Germany (-300), Mexico (+550), Sweden (+800), South Korea (+2200)
Overview: No team has won back-to-back World Cup titles since Brazil accomplished the feat in the 1970s. That doesn’t leave Germany in a good position based on history, but the defending champions are still among the favourites to win it all at -300. Don’t expect many hiccups from Germany in the group stages, either.
Bargain wager: Sweden will be the team to watch as the country squeaked into the tournament after defeating Italy in a playoff. The Swedes won’t have star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who retired from international competition. However, the country is still a +135 chance of advancing out of the group stage — a wager worth putting your money on.
Prediction: Germany may have a light road to the knockout stage, but the journey to another title will become much tougher for the defending champions. That being said, you can still expect the Germans to top Group F.
Teams: Belgium (-120), England (+120), Tunisia (+2200), Panama (+6600)
Overview: For the last few years, we’ve been hearing how Belgium could emerge as one of the world’s best soccer nations. While that has yet to happen, expect big things in Russia. Coming in at +1100 to win the tournament outright, Belgium will get through the group stage rather easily. The question is will England challenge them for first place in Group G?
Bargain wager: There’s been heartache for England’s national team for many years, but the club has been revamped under manager Gareth Southgate, who is looking to lead the team to its first World Cup crown since 1966. Consider putting your money down on England to top the group at +120.
Prediction: The group stage matchup between Belgium and England will determine who comes out on top in the division, ultimately drawing the easier opening playoff in the second round. Both teams will be hungry, but England has a deeper squad and should be able to take first place.
Teams: Colombia (+130), Poland (+200), Senegal (+400), Japan (+400)
Overview: If there’s a division in this tournament that is sure to stump bettors, you’re looking at it here. Colombia is the favourite to prevail, but don’t discount Poland’s ability to top the group and make a serious run in this tournament.
Bargain wager: Robert Lewandowski is one of the pure goal scorers in the world and he’ll be on full display when the tournament begins this week. Can Poland top Group H? If Lewandowski can score at the pace he’s capable of, then it is worth a shot.
Prediction: Colombia will be in tough to repeat its run from four years ago when the club reached the quarter-finals. The country will advance to the playoff round, but it will be Poland that will be the top seed in the division.
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