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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.
2018 FIFA World Cup football – Group C preview and betting odds
France are undoubtedly the favourites to qualify from Group C of the World Cup 2018.
Didier Deschamps’ team will be hoping they can go one better than their loss to Portugal in the final of Euro 2016.
Denmark, Peru, and Australia make up the other teams competing to make it into the last 16.
We preview this interesting group that could be very tempting for betting and entertaining to watch.
France – There’s no question that France have one of the best squad’s heading into the World Cup. Their midfield of N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba, and Adrien Rabiot all have the ability to control any football match. However, they’re also blessed with supreme talent up front.
PSG’s Kylian Mbappe is already world class at the age of 18, and he’s likely to play alongside Antoine Griezman. But, alongside an impressive side on paper, you need a functioning machine. Even though Deschamps’ men finished top of their qualifying group, they had some lacklustre performances on the way. The 0-0 draw at home to Luxembourg was one which was especially shocking.
France only managed to score 18 goals in total from 10 games, and it’s their inability to break teams down which could be their hindrance in Russia. Back Les Bleus to win group C at 33/100 with Unibet, while you can find them at 1/20 to qualify. If you fancy this capable squad of going all the way, then you can find them at 7/1 with 888Sport.
Key Player: Paul Pogba – The Manchester United midfielder has come under intense pressure this season from Jose Mourinho and fans. This is largely due to his inconsistency and high-expectations but the £89 million pound man definitely has the potential to change a tournament. Alongside N’Golo Kante, he will have license to roam forward and show the world his devastating ability.
Australia – It seems that Australia have managed to crack qualifying for the World Cup. Russia will be their fourth major tournament in a row, however they certainly did it the hard way. Draws against Iraq, Thailand and Saudi Arabia meant they had to play two additional playoff rounds. An extra-time goal from 38-year-old Tim Cahill ensured they beat Syria, while two Mile Jedinak penalties helped them to overcome Honduras.
The drama was still to come, though. After qualification, coach Ange Postecoglou decided it was the right time to quit his position. In January 2018, the Australian FA made an announcement that Bert van Marwijk was the right man for the job. The 65-year-old veteran led Holland to the World Cup final in 2010 and the Aussies will be hoping this experience will ensure they have a upper hand over opponents in Russia.
The bookies don’t believe Australia will cause many shocks in this year’s tournament, however. They are 20/1 with 888Sport to win their group, while you can find them at 4/1 with Betway to qualify. Meanwhile, BoyleSports have them at 500/1 to lift the trophy.
Key Player: Aaron Mooy – The Huddersfield midfielder has been the main reason for the club’s survival in the Premier League this season. Mooy has the ability to put in a man-of-the-match performance against any team and he’ll be one of the first names in van Marwijk’s starting 11.
Peru – For the first time since 1982, Peru will be making an appearance at the World Cup. However, it wasn’t exactly a straight forward qualification. A playoff victory over New Zealand was needed, and it was a win that actually propelled them into 10th in the FIFA world rankings.
Since manager Ricardo Gareca’s appointment in 2015, Peru have been undefeated, with five victories and four draws. But it’s their reputation as a young, exciting team that will draw attention in this year’s tournament. The South American team will fancy their chances of progressing from group C, and with players such as Andy Polo, Renato Tapia, and Yordy Reyna in their ranks, they certainly have the ability.
Peru are 10/1 to top their group with 888Sport, while they are 21/10 with Paddy Power to qualify for the last 16. You can find them at 200/1 to win the World Cup with BoyleSports.
Key Player: Jefferson Farfan – Even though the Lokomotiv Moscow winger is 33 years of age, he still possesses great skill and pace. The ex-Schalke player scored a goal in the crucial 2-0 victory over New Zealand in the playoffs which sealed their place at the tournament.
Denmark – This will be only the fifth time that Denmark have competed at a World Cup. The 1992 European champions have suffered somewhat since their golden era in which they reached the quarterfinals of the 1998 world cup and the round of 16 just four years later.
A poor tournament in Africa too meant they could only manage three points as they crashed out of the group stage. However, fast forward eight years and manager Aage Hareide will be hoping he can at least take his team to the last 16. The Norwegian is unbeaten since his appointment in 2015 and has based success on a decent defence. The Danes only conceded eight goals in 10 qualifying matches before defeating the Republic of Ireland in the playoffs.
If you fancy Hareide’s men to win the group then they can be found at 4/1 with Paddy Power. They are second favourites at 1/2 to qualify, while they are 100/1 with William Hill to win the tournament.
Key Player: Christian Eriksen – The 26-year-old may seem like an obvious choice but he is easily Denmark’s best player. Eriksen was instrumental in their qualification, scoring eight goals in 10 matches. The Tottenham midfielder has the potential to unlock any defence with his range of passing.
2018 FIFA World Cup football – Group D preview and betting odds
Upon first glance, Argentina look clear favourites as the winners of Group D.
A team boasting arguably the world’s best player in Lionel Messi will always stand a great chance of progressing.
It would be foolish, however, to write off the other teams in the group after impressive qualifying rounds.
We preview all four nations, including Croatia, Nigeria, and Iceland.
Argentina – The 2014 World Cup runners up will be looking to go one better at this year’s tournament in Russia. If their qualification is anything to go by, however, they could be a huge disappointment. Even though they finished credibly behind Uruguay and Brazil, Argentina lost four and drew seven out of their 18 games.
They also had to rely on three goals from the brilliant Lionel Messi to scrape through in their final match. Nonetheless, expectations will still be high regarding the South American team. Coach Jorge Sampaoli will be hopeful he can inflict the attacking mentality that served him well while he was in charge of Chile. In truth, it shouldn’t be hard to implement that philosophy into a team boasting the likes of Mauro Icardi, Angel di Maria, Sergio Aguero, Javier Pastore, and Gonzalo Higuain. It is now three final losses in a row for these players, and that will surely be added motivation as search for glory.
Argentina are favourites to top Group D at 13/20 with 888Sport, while they are 1/8 with Paddy Power to qualify. If you can envisage Messi lifting the trophy, then they can be found at 9/1 with BoyleSports.
Key Player: Lionel Messi – Having already won 5 Balon d’Or’s, Lionel Messi is arguably the greatest footballer ever. At 30 years of age, it could be his last World Cup, and he’ll be desperate to make an impression.
Iceland – Iceland were the surprise package of Euro 2016 where they progressed from a group containing Portugal, and knocked out England. They were eventually stopped in the quarter-finals by France, but they’ll be confident of causing more upsets in their first World Cup.
Heimir Hallgrimsson’s men have already proven that their last tournament wasn’t a fluke. Qualification from a group that contained Croatia, Turkey, and Ukraine was no mean feat. Their counter-attacks, tremendous work ethic, and set-pieces should prove problematic for any team. Iceland may have the third average age of the tournament, but they’ve got a lot of underrated players in their squad. There’s no doubt they will play well above their level, and that’s always a great recipe for a dark horse.
Iceland may least favourite to progress with bookmakers, but there could be value in the 11/4 with Betway to qualify. They are 7/1 with Paddy Power to win the group, and 250/1 with BetVictor to cause a major shock.
Key Player: Gylfi Sigurdsson –The Everton playmaker hasn’t enjoyed the best of seasons in the Premier League. However, he’s certainly Iceland’s most dangerous player, and his skill and set pieces means he’ll have a huge role to play if his nation are to progress.
Croatia – It’s hard to predict what Croatia will turn up to a major tournament. In the last 20 years, they have finished third in a World Cup, and twice reached the quarter-finals of the European Championships. They have, however, also produced some terrible displays that has seen them crash out of the group stage.
Their victory over Spain at Euro 2016 was one of the displays of the tournament, but they were brought back down to earth when they exited to Portugal. Qualification for this year’s tournament wasn’t exactly straightforward either. Coach Ante Cacic was sacked after losses to Turkey and Iceland, and a draw with Finland. Zlatko Dalic then took over with one game left, beating Ukraine to set up a playoff match with Greece.
On the field, they possess high quality talent, especially in midfield with the likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, and Mateo Kovacic pulling the strings. But, off the field lies their real problems. Corruption allegations involving administrators and players have left morale at a low, and it could unfortunately show in their performances. Croatia are second-favourites at 9/4 to top Group D, while they are a short 8/15 to qualify. They can be found at 28/1 with William Hill to win the competition.
Key Player: Luka Modric – At 33 years of age, Modric is perhaps going to be competing at his last World Cup. The Real Madrid midfielder has such creativity and awareness on the ball that he’s a true joy to watch. His position in FIFA’s best 11 of 2017 explains it all.
Nigeria – This will be Nigeria’s sixth World Cup appearance after they impressively finished top of a tough qualifying group. Zambia, Cameroon, and Algeria would have certainly fancied their chances of making the plane to Russia. The Super Eagles, however, lost just once during the campaign and look Africa’s best hope of success in the summer.
Even though Nigeria have the youngest team in the tournament, they have some much-needed experience too. 30-year-old John Obi Mikel is the leader of the side, however, boss Gernot Rohr has a long history of managing teams from the continent. His one loss in over two years certainly suggests Nigeria will be hard to beat.
Even though Group D looks competitive on paper, Rohr’s men will be confident of progressing. Especially when you consider they thrashed rivals Argentina 4-2 back in November. If they are to be successful, look out for the attacking Premier League trio of Alex Iwobi, Ahmed Musa, and Kelechi Iheanacho who have the talent to score past any team. The Super Eagles are 11/1 with Unibet to finish top of their group, while they are 3/1 to qualify. Head over to 888Sport if you fancy them to lift the trophy, where they can be backed at 200/1.
Key Player: Alex Iwobi – The 21-year-old will be Nigeria’s biggest attacking threat and has the potential to be a game changer.
2018 FIFA World Cup football – Group E preview and betting odds
Five-time World Cup winners Brazil are clear favourites to top Group E in Russia.
While Tite’s men should comfortably prevail, the battle for second place may be a lot more hotly contested.
Switzerland, Costa Rica, and Serbia will all fancy their chances of progressing to the last 16.
Here is our preview of Group E.
Brazil – It’s no surprise that Brazil have managed to qualify for every World Cup to date. The South-American team have won the trophy an incredible five times, along with seven Copa America’s, and 4 Confederation Cup’s. Their seemingly difficult route to Russia was made to look easy.
Tite’s men scored 41 goals in 18 matches, losing just once, and finishing 10 points clear of second-placed Uruguay. They’ve definitely come a long way since they were thrashed 7-1 by Germany in the last World Cup. Straight after the sacking of Dunga in 2016, Brazil won nine qualifiers in a row by playing the sexy football that’s associated with them. With so many talented players in their squad, it’s no wonder why they are the pre-tournament favourites.
Brazil are a short 1/4 with Unibet to top Group E, while they are 1/20 to qualify. A lot of people will be backing this star-studded team to lift the trophy, and they can be backed to do so at 4/1 with 888Sport.
Key Player: Neymar Junior – The PSG star has earned the right to be labelled as one of the top three players in the world. The 25-year-old will be able to flourish in this Brazil team alongside Philippe Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus. His flair and skill means he is definitely the man to watch.
Switzerland – After their impressive qualification for the World Cup, Switzerland will be confident of causing a few upsets this summer. They may have had to squeeze past Northern Ireland in the playoffs, but prior to that they won nine of their 10 matches – losing to Portugal in the final game.
The Swiss have managed to reach the last 16 in the previous two tournaments, and a quarterfinal place will be seen as significant progress. Manager Vladmir Petkovic likes his team to play a controlled possession-based game, but the side ranked 11 in the FIFA world rankings are certainly blessed with talent. They’ve also got significant physicality in their squad, with the likes of Stephan Lichtsteiner, Granit Xhaka, and Blerim Dzemali all available.
Switzerland are 5/1 with Paddy Power to finish top of Group E, while they are 1/1 with Betway to qualify. If you fancy them to win the tournament, they can be backed at 80/1 with Boylesports.
Key Player: Xherdan Shaqiri – The pacey and skilful Stoke forward has the ability to pick a pass out from anywhere on the field. The 26-year-old should have freedom to flourish with the support of Xhaka and Ricardo Rodriquez behind him.
Costa Rica – After reaching the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, Costa Rica will be more feared of this time around. A comfortable enough qualification process saw them finish second to Mexico in their group. Now they return to the tournament with a similar, but more experienced squad than before.
In fact, they have the second oldest team heading to Russia, just behind Saudi Arabia. Oscar Ramirez’s team will be highly organised, however, with great technical players and an attacking threat. It’s likely they will line up in a 5-4-1 formation and aim on frustrating their opposition before hitting them on the counter attack. Even though they have no obvious star-man in the final third of the pitch, expect a strong work ethic and belief they can beat anybody.
If you expect Costa Rica to capture people’s hearts across the world, they are 20/1 with Unibet to win Group E, while they are 7/2 just to qualify. Meanwhile, Boylesports have them at a huge 500/1 to lift the trophy.
Key Player: Keylor Navas – The 31-year-old goalkeeper was influential in Real Madrid’s La Liga, Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup success in 2017. His superb reflexes mean Costa Rica will always have the chance of keeping a clean sheet.
Serbia – After securing qualification from a tough group that contained Republic of Ireland, Austria, and Wales, Serbia strangely sacked their manager Slavoljub Muslin. Team selection and a defensive mentality was to blame, and Mladen Krstajic, capped 59 times for the Balkan side, was the man put in charge.
Russia will be the 12th tournament that Serbia will be competing in, but disappointingly, they haven’t made it out of the group stage since 1998. Krstajic’s men haven’t got the easiest passage if they want to progress, but they do have a specific playing style. Their defensive work rate and technical level will be high, while they will remain organised all over the pitch.
Even though the team will rely on experienced players, there’s a great mix if youth too, with Aleksandar Mitrovic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic leading the attacking line. Serbia are second-favourites with Paddy Power to finish as Group E winners, while they are 5/4 with Betway to qualify. They can be found at 150/1 with William Hill to lift the World Cup.
Key Player: Nemanja Matic – Even though Serbia have exciting attacking threats, Matic will be instrumental if they are to progress. The Manchester United midfielder will give freedom to the other players to go forward and express themselves. With the ability to break down attacks, and a decent shot from distance, he’s easily Krstajic’s key player.
2018 FIFA World Cup football – Group F preview and betting odds
Germany and Mexico will compete for top spot in Group F.
The two teams collide on 17 June in a rematch of the Confederations Cup final last summer.
Joachim Lowe’s men were victorious that day, but Mexico will want revenge.
Meanwhile, Sweden and South Korea will also fancy their chances of progressing.
Germany – The current World Cup champions are back to defend their title, and they will aim on becoming the first team since Brazil in 1958 and 1962 to win back-to-back trophies. Germany are the second most successful nation in the tournament, winning it four times. They also look well equipped to match Brazil’s tally of five if their qualification process is anything to go by. Joachim Lowe’s men were the only side with a 100% record, winning 10 games, and scoring an average of 4.3 goals per match.
In truth, Germany do look a completely different outfit to that which competed in Brazil four years ago. A lot of their influential players have retired, including captain Phillip Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski, and Per Mertesacker. They still possess class, however, and anything less than a semi-final berth would be regarded as a disappointment. If goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is fit in time for the tournament, it will be a major boost for his nation.
Germany are strong favourites at 3/10 with Unibet to finish top of Group E, while they are a very short 1/16 to qualify with Betway. The champions are, quite rightly, joint favourites with Paddy Power at 9/2 to lift the World Cup.
Key Player: Timo Werner – The 22-year-old has been incredible for RB Leipzig during the past two seasons and has scored seven goals in 10 appearances for Germany. If Lowe’s men progress far in the competition, he has potential to win the Golden Boot.
Mexico – History suggests that Mexico should have a decent tournament in Russia. They’ve managed to progress from the group stage in every World Cup since 1986. Juan Carlos Osorio’s men also confidently qualified without losing a single match, and conceded just one goal.
It’s definitely a team that should be brimming with confidence, especially considering they’re one of America’s most successful sides, winning the CONCACAF an incredible 10 times. They have plenty of players who have been in major tournaments and have the experience, including the likes of Carlos Vela, Oribe Peralta, and Giovanni Dos Santos. Their lack of a true superstar may just be their downfall, however. And with a strong group to compete with, their proud record at finals could certainly be in jeopardy.
Mexico are 6/1 with BetVictor to top Group E, while they are 4/6 to qualify with Paddy Power. Mexico are a decent 100/1 with William Hill to win the tournament.
Key Player: Hirving Lozano – The PSV winger has scored seven goals for Mexico already, despite only making his debut in 2016. Now 22 years of age, Lozano is perhaps one of the most exciting prospects of the World Cup due to his creativity and skill on the ball.
Sweden – This year’s tournament in Russia will be the first time Sweden have qualified for a World Cup since 2006. During the past decade, the Scandinavian team have been guilty of playing a slow game due to ageing players. There are no accusations of that now, however.
Janne Andersson’s men have evolved into a young, hungry side with players capable of beating anyone. This was certainly demonstrable in their qualifying group in which they pipped Holland into second place on goal difference. They also beat France along the way, who eventually finished first.
The Swedes can compete with anybody on their day, and even though their lack of quality is evident, they pride themselves on organisation and desire. Sweden are 13/2 to finish top of Group F with Betway, while they are 1/1 with Paddy Power to qualify. Boylesports are offering 150/1 for them to lift the prestigious trophy.
Key Player: Emil Forsberg – The RB Leipzig player is a talented individual who will make the difference to Sweden with his creativity, skill, and set-piece ability. The 26-year-old was voted Swedish Midfielder of the Year for the last three seasons.
South Korea – If South Korea’s heroics of 2002 are to be repeated in Russia, they’ll have to perform a small miracle. They qualified for the tournament after finishing second behind Iran. Admittedly, all the other teams were of pretty poor standard, and South Korea was the best of a bad bunch with a goal difference of just +1.
Their priority has to be improving the defence with the World Cup fast approaching. Tae-Yong Shin’s men conceded 10 goals in as many matches, and the coach is yet to find any real consistency since taking over the club in 2017. Shin was promoted from the Under-20s and then the Under 23s, however, so he will definitely be familiar with his squad. South Korea have always possessed a great work ethic, but whether that is enough to get them out of the group remains to be seen.
South Korea are a huge 20/1 with 888Sport to finish top of Group F, while they are 5/1 with Paddy Power to qualify. They can be found at 600/1 with Unibet to shock the globe and win the World Cup.
Key Player: Son Heung-Min – The 25-year-old possess great skill, pace, and the ability to score with both feet. Son, who won 2017 Asian Player of the Year, has also scored 33 goals in 104 matches for Tottenham.
2018 FIFA World Cup football – Group H preview and betting odds
Poland, Columbia, Senegal, and Japan make up the teams in Group H at the World Cup.
While none of these sides are favourites to win the competition, it certainly makes for an interesting battle.
All of the teams will be optimistic of progressing from the group, and whoever finishes bottom will be extremely disappointed.
We preview the last four teams who will be playing in Russia.
Poland – Looking at this group on paper, it would be hard to predict which team was the top seed. It is in fact, Poland, who were somehow positioned sixth in the FIFA world rankings when the draw was made. Even though they last went to a World Cup in 2006, their qualifying campaign was largely trouble free.
They managed to win eight out of 10 matches, and finished five points ahead of runners-up Denmark – though it’s likely coach Adam Nawalka and his men will want to forget the 6-0 drubbing by the Danes. Poland managed to score a commendable 28 goals in those games, but that was largely due to the brilliance of Robert Lewandowski. The Bayern Munich striker netted 16 times, which was more than any other player in qualifying.
Nawalka will be confident of at least progressing past the group stage. They were unlucky at Euro 2016 when they were knocked out on penalties at the quarter-final stage by eventual-winners Portugal. They will, however, need a plan B as teams may have worked out their long-ball tactic concerning Lewandowski. If you fancy Poland to top their group, they can be found at 9/5 with Unibet, while they are 4/7 with Betway to qualify. They are 50/1 with Boylesports to lift the prestigious trophy.
Key Player: Robert Lewandowski – Who else? With 51 goals in just 91 appearances, he could achieve the Golden Boot even if Poland don’t progress that far. Having netted 42 goals for Bayern Munich this season, Lewandowski is a man bang on form!
Senegal – After a 16 year absence from the World Cup, Senegal are back. In 2002, they set the whole globe alight with their athletic displays while beating France in the group stages, before eventually getting knocked out in the quarter-finals by Turkey.
In fact, their qualifying campaign was full of just as much drama. FIFA ruled that a referee had intentionally fixed a 2-1 defeat to South Africa, and Senegal were ordered to replay the game, which they won. The result didn’t have much reflection on the group standings, however, with Aliou Cisse’s men finishing five points clear of Burkina Faso.
Senegal will aim on beating their opponents in this year’s World Cup through their true athleticism. Not many teams will beat them for pace, and they have a good mix of experience and youth that could see them go quite far. They have quality players all over the pitch too, with Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly in defence, and Cheikh Kouyate and Idrissa Gueye both in midfield. The Lions of Teranga are 17/4 with 888Sport to finish top of Group H, while they are 6/5 with Paddy Power to qualify. They can be found at 150/1 with William Hill to win the World Cup.
Key Player: Saido Mane – The forward has been hugely impressive in the last two seasons for Liverpool, and was instrumental in their progression to the Champions League final. Mane has great speed, dribbling ability, and can finish wonderfully. He was also joint-top of the assists chart in qualifying.
Columbia – If Columbia play as well as they did at the last World Cup, they’ll have a chance of beating anybody. A great start to the tournament saw them fly through the group stage, defeating Uruguay in the last-16, before eventually narrowly losing to Brazil in the quarter-finals. This year’s qualifying campaign saw them finish one point ahead of fifth-placed Peru and Chile, whist having the third best defence.
It will be this organisation at the back that will be key to their success in Russia. Both Brazil and Uruguay were held to draws by Jose Pekerman, which shows they can compete with the very best. There’s some familiar attacking faces too that should stand them in good stead. James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado, and Radamel Falcao make up a pretty impressive front-line. Pekerman has been in charge since 2012 and he will know his players inside and out.
Columbia are favourites to top Group H at 7/5 with Unibet, while they are 2/5 with Betway to qualify. If you fancy the South-American team to lift the World Cup, they can be found at 33/1 with Paddy Power.
Key Player: James Rodriguez – the Bayern Munich loanee will be given freedom to roam the midfield and is capable of the spectacular. Rodriguez finished the 2014 World Cup as top-scorer with six goals.
Japan – This will be Japan’s sixth World Cup appearance and they are certainly one of Asia’s best teams. They’ve never made it past the knockout stages on the global stage, but it will be exciting to see how far they can progress this time around. They qualified for Russia after beating Australia 2-0 in the penultimate game and managed to finish top ahead of Saudi Arabia. Vahid Halilhodzic’s men also only conceded seven goals in 10 games, keeping four clean sheets in the process.
A defensive philosophy looks to be on the agenda for Japan then, but they counter attack at times through speedy, creative players such as Okazaki and Honda. Japan are least favourites to top the group at 7/1 with 888Sport, while they are 2/1 with Paddy Power to qualify. You can back them at 250/1 with William Hill to take the World Cup back to Asia.
Key Player: Shinji Kagawa – the Borussia Dortmund attacker has been in good form this season and will want to maintain that for his country. Too often he goes missing for Japan but is their best attacking threat on his day.
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Place a pre-match single bet on the To Win Match market on any men’s Singles match from Wimbledon and if the player you back goes 2 sets up, bet365 will settle your bet early as a winner.
This offer applies to pre-match single bets on the To Win Match market for men’s main draw Singles matches at Wimbledon from Monday 2nd July 2018 up to and including the final on Sunday 15th July 2018.
This offer will not apply where a stake has been fully Cashed Out. Where a stake has been partially Cashed Out and your selection goes two sets up, the bet will be settled on the remaining active stake.
If a qualifying bet is edited using the Edit Bet feature prior to the start of the match and your selection goes two sets up, the bet will be settled on the new stake. Where a bet has been edited to include or amend a selection for an event that is In-Play, the offer will no longer apply.
T&Cs apply. Only available to new and eligible customers. 18+.
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