World Cup 2018: Predictions for Groups A to D

With squads having been confirmed, the 32 teams involved are now carrying out their final preparations for Russia 2018 and the latest edition of football’s World Cup. We know all about the outright betting where, in a very tight market, many bookmakers list both Germany and Brazil as the joint favourites but what about the challenges that they face along the way?

With each team having to play three group games, there is less scope for shocks until we reach the knockouts. Sides can be held to a draw or perhaps even come through with one defeat but there can still be some surprises in one-off matches and in terms of group betting, it is quite possible to find some decent value.

Here we will take a look at Groups A through to D for Russia 2018 and see if we can pick some winners.

Group A

Mo Salah

Our first section features host nation Russia but this isn’t the easiest group for a side who would be desperate to go deep into their own tournament. The home country start as second favourites to win Group A at best odds of 15/8 with William Hill but that puts them behind Uruguay who lead the way at Even Money with Coral and Sun Bets.

The threat here is set to come from Egypt who are available at a top price of 6/1 with 188Bet while Saudi Arabia are just along for the ride at a best of 40/1 with BetBright and MarathonBet.

Uruguay should come through with ease but the crucial game here looks to be between Russia and Egypt in Saint Petersburg on June 19. The Egyptians aren’t expected to go too far into the tournament but with a player as potent as Mohamed Salah in their ranks, they look capable of causing an upset in this section.

Group B

The second section looks to be more clear cut with reigning European Champions Portugal widely expected to progress to the last 16 alongside their neighbours, and 2010 World Cup Winners Spain.

The Spanish are heavy favourites to win Group B at best odds of 4/7 with Boylesports while Portugal and the great Cristiano Ronaldo are available at 2/1 with most bookmakers including Ladbrokes and 10Bet.

The remaining countries are given little chance with Morocco some way behind at 37/2 with MarathonBet, followed by Iran at a top price of 40/1 with 10Bet and Sport Pesa. It looks comfortable enough but the potential issue for the favourites is that they play each other in the opening fixture in Sochi on June 15. Neither Spain nor Portugal will want to lose that game as they will then be playing catch up on the teams above them so we should expect a very cagey encounter.

Group C

1998 World Cup winners and Euro 2016 runners up France lead the way in Group C and can be backed at best odds of 17/50 to win the section. Dangerous Denmark are next at a top price of 6/1 with William Hill followed by Peru at a best of 11/1 with 10Bet and Australia at 22/1 with Sun Bets.

This is one group where there may be some value as the Danes are a very underrated team containing a mix of journeyman pros and some World Class talent including Christian Eriksen. The Peruvians can also be dangerous in a one off game so the French will have some tough ties and they look far too short for comfort at that 17/50 price.

Group D

Sergio Aguero

Our final group in the top half of the World Cup draw features Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria and once again, this could be tighter than the market is suggesting. Argentina are natural favourites at odds of 8/13 with Sun Bets to win this section but they need their star man Lionel Messi to finally produce in a major tournament while key striker Sergio Aguero ended the season on the sidelines with another injury.

Croatia are second favourites for the group win at 13/5 with Coral and while that’s also a relatively short price, the bookies clearly think that the top two teams will have an easy passage into the last sixteen.

Iceland, who went deeper into Euro 2016 than many expected, would dispute that theory, but while they conquered England at that tournament, the team is the outside bet at 14/1 with William Hill and SportPesa. Meanwhile, sneaking into third place are Nigeria who are listed at 10/1 with Betway and 188Bet to win Group D.

This could be very tight and every fixture here is vital: Both Nigeria and Iceland look to be underrated at their respective prices and of all the sections in the 2018 World Cup, this could be the most open.

Verdict

While the value could lie in that final section, we’ll work through the list in alphabetical order and start with Group A where Uruguay are the bookmakers’ favourites to win it. It’s important not to generalise when making any bet but like many South American teams, this side are talented going forward but a little unpredictable and vulnerable at the back.

Russia tend to ‘blow up’ and have been a serious disappointment in major tournaments in the past so we would normally avoid them. Home advantage should help but this should be a comfortable section for Uruguay and when compared with other groups, Even Money to win is actually a generous price.

Group B also interests us and this should all come down to a one-off game between Spain and Portugal to decide it. That game also appears right at the start of the tournament and with neither side wanting to lose, a draw could be a likely outcome. From there, a free flowing Portuguese side can extend their goal difference over a tighter Spanish unit so we’re getting behind the second favourites there.

Group C could be tougher to call than the markets indicate and while we expect France to edge it, their win odds of 17/50 are too short to get excited about.

That brings us back to Group D where Argentina should also convert but there is definite value in backing the Croatians who can take advantage of a team who are traditional slow starters. Iceland to qualify could also be interesting at 27/11 with SportingBet but we’ll settle on the following two tips, one of which should be safe while the other is an outside option at a very good price.

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