2018 FIFA World Cup football – Group A preview and betting odds
- The 2018 World Cup kicks off on June 14 – what a tournament it should be! Who will get the title?
- According to bookies, Brazil and Germany are currently joint favourites at betting odds of 9/2 at BetVictor.
- If you have something else in mind, there could be a great value to bet on Argentina at 9/1 or Belgium at 11/1 with William Hill.
- At our blog we will make a preview of every team competing at World Cup 2018 and identify the key players – starting with Group A.
Russia – It is the first time Russia will be hosting the World Cup and expectations have understandably risen among natives. However, manager Stanislav Chercheshov knows he has a huge task on his hands. The Russians have struggled recently in major competitions.
They were knocked out of Euro 2016 in the group stages and the same fate awaited them as they hosted the Confederations Cup. Recent results haven’t been too encouraging either. In four home matches, Russia have lost to Argentina, and drew to Spain and Iran, with their only victory coming against South Korea.
Russia have moved on from their experienced squad of recent years. Most of the old heads that enjoyed a successful tournament in 2008 have parted ways and they’ve decided to place their trust in the younger generation. 31-year-old captain Igor Akinfeev and 34-year-old Yuri Zhirkov still remain in the squad however, and they will be important if Chercheshov’s men are to at least progress from Group A.
Russia are 1/3 second favourites with Paddy Power to progress to the last 16, while they are 2/1 with 888sport to progress from the group. If you believe that home advantage will have a huge role to play, they are available at 30/1 with Unibet to win the competition.
Key Player: Alan Dzagoev – the CSKA Moscow playmaker was once touted as one of Europe’s brightest young talents. He has somewhat gone off the boil in recent years, but the 27-year-old will see this as his final chance to make an impression at international level.
Saudi Arabia – It is not expected that Saudi Arabia will progress from their group at this year’s World Cup. Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men have the oldest squad out of all the teams in Russia at just below 29 years. However, previous tournaments have proven that anything can happen.
In 1994, they became one of only four Asian teams to progress to the knockout stages. They were somewhat brought down to earth though in the 2012 World Cup when they were thrashed 8-0 by Germany.
This year, qualification in itself was a success. Saudi Arabia beat Japan 1-0 in the final game to finish ahead of Australia by a goal difference of +1. The coach who masterminded their success though, Bert van Marwijk, left his job shortly after due to a contract issue. He was replaced by Edgardo Bauza, who took charge of five friendly matches before also being replaced by Pizzi.
The Argentinian took Chile to the 2016 Copa America Centenario, but now surely faces a more difficult task if he’s to take his team past the group stages. Saudi Arabia are 10/1 with Betfair to qualify, while they are a huge 33/1 with Betway to top Group A. If you fancy them to cause a minor miracle and win the World Cup, they can be found at a monstrous 1000/1 with BoyleSports.
Key Player: Mohammed Al-Sahlawi – the Al-Nassr striker was the joint top-scorer in Asian qualifying with an impressive 16 goals. Even though he is one of the most experienced members of the squad at 30 years of age, he is undoubtedly Saudi Arabia’s prized asset.
Egypt – Even though Egypt have struggled historically in terms of World Cup appearances, they have somewhat exploded into life in recent years. Hector Cuper’s men made it to the 2017 African Cup of Nations and topped their qualifying group to make it to their third World Cup.
It is essentially a very exciting time to be a native, and fans have shown their faith in the squad by being the biggest ticket requesters for the tournament. It’s no surprise that they feel optimistic as they look ahead to Russia. A lot of young talent have hit their prime recently, and a lot of the players have been enjoying success all over Europe.
Ramadan Sobhi, Trezeguet, and Mo Salah are all pacey, flair-type players that will undoubtedly get the crowds up on their feet. The Egyptians are 6/5 to qualify with Paddy Power, while they are 9/2 to top the group with BetVictor. If you fancy them to go all the way and win the competition, they can be found at 150/1 with William Hill.
Key Player: Mo Salah – the Premier League Player of the Year has absolutely exploded into life this year for Liverpool. With over 40 goals in all competitions, the 25-year-old has the ability to win matches on his own, and will be a huge attacking threat for Egypt.
Uruguay – The two-time world champions will compete in this year’s competitions after finishing second to Brazil in their qualifying group. Uruguay have been difficult to predict over the last few years due to inconsistent form in major tournaments.
They suffered terrible results in the last two Copa America’s, but their attacking options mean they can be a difficult opponent for any team. Luis Suarez will make an appearance on the world stage again after the controversy surrounding the last two tournaments.
The Barcelona striker infamously handled the ball on the goal line during 2010, while he bit Giorgio Chellini in the 2014 competition. Uruguay will be hoping he can keep his concentration this time around, and he will be accompanied by PSG striker Edinson Cavani. Whether the rest of the team can provide service for these two world-class players could be the difference on how far they progress.
Oscar Tabarez’s men are favourites to progress from the group at 1/6 with Betfair, while they are 22/25 to win the group with Unibet. If you fancy backing a dark horse, then you can back them to win the World Cup at 33/1 with 888sport.
Key Player: Luis Suarez – the Barcelona striker almost single-handedly dragged Uruguay through the qualifying group. If he manages to find his best form, his team could get quite far in the competition.