GROUP A


?? URUGUAY

(To win: 30.00; To win group: 1.91; To qualify: 1.14; Rock Bottom: 17.00)
Uruguay have qualified for the third time in a row to the final stages, after a 4th place finish in 2010 and Round of 16 elimination in Brazil four years ago. This is a team full of great players that, except for the Copa America won in 2011, have never really fulfilled their expectations. In the last 3 major competitions played they were eliminated by Colombia in the R16 in the last World Cup in 2014, after struggling in the group, they reached the Quarter Finals in the Copa America of 2015, and finally they didn’t pass the Group Stage in the same cup in 2016.
They arrive to this edition after finishing 2nd behind Brazil with 31 points (9 wins, 4 draws, 5 losses), with 32 goals scored and 20 conceded. For some of the players like Muslera (31), Caceres (31), Godin (32), M.Pereira (33), C.Rodriguez (32), Cavani (31) and Suarez (31) this could be the last chance to shine in a World Cup while they are still at the top of their game. They will face a relative easy group alongside Russia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia and should have no big problems going through. In the R16 depending on their group final position they might face either Portugal, Spain or Morocco.
If they go through as 1st they might get Portugal or Morocco in the Round16 and probably France in the Quarter-Finals. Odds to win the group or go through seem too low to be interesting considering that they don’t have a solid recent history, finishing for example 2nd behind Costa Rica in the group at the last World Cup. Uruguay are a crazy horse capable of big debacles or great results. BEST BET: To win the group @ 1.91. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Round of 16: 2.25; QF 4.33

 

?? RUSSIA

(To win: 51.00; To win group: 2.90; To qualify: 1.29; Rock Bottom: 11.00)
Russia are qualified as host in this edition. If we exclude their participations as Soviet Union, from 1994 they never qualified from the group stages, playing in 3 tournaments (1994, 2002, 2014) with a record of 2 wins, 2 draws and 5 losses in 9 games. In the Confederation Cup played at home last year they won just one game from their group (New Zealand) and lost against both Portugal and Mexico. In the friendlies before the tournament they won just one (South Korea), with 2 draws against Iran and Spain, and losses against Brazil, France and Argentina.
Apart from the fact that they are in the easier group they shouldn’t be favorite to go through ever. Saudi Arabia are one of the weakest team in the cup and they should surrend to Russia in the first game, but Egypt have enough in order to qualify as 2nd instead of Russia.
BEST BET: Eliminated in the Group stage @ 2.75. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Group Stage: 2.75; R16: 2.62

 

?? EGYPT

(To win: 251; To win group: 7.50; To qualify: 2.62; Rock Bottom: 4.35)
Egypt are at their 3rd World Cup after qualifying in 1930 and 1990. In the quali they won the group E above Uganda, Ghana and Congo with a 4-1-1 record and scoring 8 goals and conceding 4. They lost both the friendlies played in March against Portugal (2-1) and Greece (1-0). Salah, who scored 5 of the 8 goals in the quali, is a big doubt for them to play after the injury suffered in the final of the UCL. Egypt have still a chance to qualify in this group even without him, as Russia have not convinced heading to the tournament. Even without Salah in the first two games they have a good chance to advance as 2nd as Russia appear to be in bad form. BEST BET: To qualify from the group @ 2.62. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Group Stage: 1.44; R16: 3.25

 

?? SAUDI ARABIA

(To win: 2001; To win group: 41.00; To qualify: 9.00; Rock Bottom: 1.40)
Saudi Arabia have qualified for their 5th World Cup. They qualified as 2nd in their Group just 1 point behind Japan with a record of 6 wins, 1 draw and 3 losses in 10 games, and 17 goals scored and 10 conceded. Since the quali they lost quite a few friendlies (Ghana, Portugal, Bulgaria, Oman, Iraq, Belgium, Italy), but they have also won 6 of them (most notably against Algeria and Greece). This is one of the weakest side in the tournament, but they still can make a result against both Russia and Egypt. They will probably be more solid than what a lot of people think. BEST BET: Rock bottom @ 1.40. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Group Stage: 1.08

 

GROUP B


?? SPAIN

(To win: 7.25; To win group: 1.50; To qualify: 1.05; Rock Bottom: 33.00)
Spain are coming to this World Cup as one of the strongest favorites to win the tournament and rightly so. After two disappointing major tournaments in 2014, where they didn’t pass the group stage, and in the Euro 2016 where they lost 2-0 against Italy in the Round of 16, the Roja seem to be now back at their best under Lopetegui, with 13 and 5 draws in 18 games under him since Spetember 2016.
This squad is a great mix between veterans like Piqué (31), Ramos (32), Busquets (29), Iniesta (34), David Silva (32) and Diego Costa (29), and younger players in their prime like Isco (26), De Gea (27), Carvajal (26), Koke (26)and Vazquez (26). They also have two young fantastic talents like Saul (23) and Asensio (22) coming up. In the quali they ended unbeaten with 28 points out of 10 games (9-1-0) and they impressed in the friendlies with a 6-1 win against Argentina, a 5-0 vs Costa Rica, and two draws against the mighty Germans (1-1) and Russia (3-3).
Their group is not an easy one. Portugal could be a dangerous opponent, while both Morocco and Iran are some of the best teams from their respective pots. If they go through as 1st as expected their road to the QF could be an easy one against the 2nd from Group A (Egypt, Russia, Uruguay, Saudi Arabia). In the QF they would get one between the winner of Group D (Argentina, Iceland, Croatia or Nigeria) and the 2nd from Group C (Peru, Denmark or Australia).
This means they have a good chance to reach the SF, where they would probably get Germany. In the last 5 meetings against them, they have only lost once (friendly in 2014), while they beat them both in the World Cup 2010 and in the Euro in 2008. BEST BET: Best European team @ 5.50. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Runner-up 6.00; Semi-Finals 5.50

 

?? PORTUGAL

(To win: 28.00; To win group: 3.20; To qualify: 1.14; Rock Bottom: 11.25)
Portugal have plenty of talents but usually never fullfill their full potential. They have qualified for their 7th World Cup, with a 3rd place (1966) and a 4th place (2006) as their best finish. They are coming from a win in the Euro 2016 and the improvements seen under manager Fernando Santos (32 win, 8 draws and 9 losses with Portugal) could be reflected at this edition, like their 2nd place at the Euro 2004 lead to a 4th place in the 2006 World Cup. They qualified from Group B above Switzerland with 27 points in 10 games (9-0-1), 32 goals scored and just 4 conceded. Their only loss came against the Swiss away (2-0). In the friendlies they didn’t impress with draws against the USA (1-1) and Tunisia (2-2), wins against Saudi Arabia (3-0) and Egypt (2-1) and a loss against the Netherlands (3-0).
Their squad have probably too many players not anymore in their primes, like Pepe (35), Bruno Alves (36), Jose Fonte (34), Fernandes (32), Moutinho (31) and Quaresma (34). Cristiano Ronaldo, although 33, he is still crucial and could lead them forward in the competition. Although dangerous and full of talents this team seem to have more defensive problems than the one that won the Euro in 2016. Their 2nd place in Group B, after Spain, could be in danger. In a way they remind me those teams that after winning a major competition decide to stick with the older players and don’t include new fresh meat, like Rony Lopes (21) or Ruben Neves (22) for example. Italy (2010) and Spain (2014) payed full price for not changing. In recent friendlies Guedes catched the eye with a brace against Algeria and he could be in the starting-11 from the 1st game. This is a team that can reach the SF, but also risk of being eliminated in the Group Stage by Morocco.
Like Uruguay this is a very dangerous team for bettors, but once in a while they deliver (Euro 2016). Either back them to go very far or exit in the group stage. BEST BET: Gonçalo Guedes to be Portugal top goalscorer @ 19.00. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: QF: 3.75; R16: 2.62; Group Stage: 4.33

 

?? MOROCCO

(To win: 501.00; To win group: 23.00; To qualify: 4.90; Rock Bottom: 2.40)
Morocco could be the surprise team from this group. The Maroccans come back to the World Cup final stages after 20 years after qualifying from a tough group above Ivory Coast, Gabon and Mali. They finished unbeaten (3-3-0) and counting the friendlies played since the quali they are unbeaten in the last 7, with wins against South Korea (3-1), Serbia (2-0) and Uzbekistan (2-0). This is a team that can repeat the exploit they had in 1986, where they finished the group 1st above England, Poland and Portugal, but then were eliminated by the runner-ups West Germany. They have a very experienced squad with players like Benatia (31), Boussoufa (33), El Ahmadi (33), Belhanda (28), Boutaid (31), but also very interesting young talents like Amrabat (21, Feyenoord), Ziyech (23, Ajax) and Hakimi (19, Real Madrid).
If they go through as 2nd they have a good game against the 1st of Group A (Uruguay, Russia or Egypt). The QF should be their max reachable achievement, but a game against France could pump them up to play the game of their lives. BEST BET: Ayoub El Kaabi to be Morroco top goalscorer @13.00. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Group Stage: 1.16; Last16: 5.50; QF: 26.00

 

?? IRAN

(To win: 501.00; To win group: 41.00; To qualify: 5.90; Rock Bottom: 1.70)
Iran are the typical team you don’t want in your group. Solid, defensive, tactically prepared. They qualified for the 2nd consecutive time to a World Cup after 2014, where, despite finishing rock bottom they didn’t make a fool of themselves against teams like Argentina, Bosnia and Nigeria. This year they qualified unbeaten from group A above South Korea and Syria conceding just 2 goals in 10 games. After the quali they had good results in friendlies with wins against Panama, Algeria and Uzebkistan, but they also lost against both Tunisia and Turkey.
They usually don’t concede more than 2 goals per game and they could be difficult to break down. Argentina struggled to score until the 90th minute in 2014. They weren’t lucky with the draw as the group is one of the most competitive even for the 3rd place. They should finish 4th in the end but not until battling until the last minute of every game. They can draw games against Portugal and Morocco in this group. BEST BET: Lowest scoring team in the tournament @ 11.00. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Group Stage: 1.11

 

GROUP C


?? FRANCE

(To win: 7.50; To win group: 1.34; To qualify: 1.05; Rock Bottom: 34.00)
France are coming to this World Cup after a very posiitve Euro 2016 played in their turf, where they reached the final only to be beaten by Portugal in the final. After two deludent eidtions in 2010 (Group Stage), and 2014 (Quarter-Finals), this is a squad ready to finally reach full potential of another golden generation on the biggest stage. Payers like Pogba (25), Varane (25), Umtiti (24), Kanté (27), Griezmann (27) are all in their prime years and they are mixed with younger talents like Mbappé (19), Lemar (22), Mendy (23), Dembélé (21) and Pavard (22). This is a squad that can easily dominate world football in future years as they have some of the most promising young talents around. They have qualified from Group A, above Sweden and Netherlands with 23 points out of 10 games (7-2-1) and 18 goals scored and 6 conceded.
Since the quali they had good results in friendlies, like wins against Wales (2-0), Russia (3-1), Ireland (2-0), although they also conceded 3 goals in the loss against Colombia (3-2) and had a positive 2-2 draw versus Germany. In Group C they are the absolute favorites to reach the Last16, as Australia, Peru and Denmark don’t represent big threat for them, but they might have problems going forward. If they go through as 1st, they will face the 2nd from Group D (Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria).
In the QF they should have a good draw against the winner of the 1st in the weak group A (Egypt, Uruguay, Russia, Saudi Arabia) or the 2nd from Group B (Portugal, Morocco or Iran). The Semi-Finals are certainly within reach where they should probably encounter Brazil in a very tight match. BEST BET: Top 4 @ 2.20. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Semi-Finals: 4.50; Runner-up: 7.50

 

?? DENMARK

(To Win: 101.00; To win group: 5.50; To qualify: 1.67; Rock Bottom: 6.50)
Denmark have qualified for their 5th World Cup with a Quarter-finals in 1998 as their best result. They qualified from Group B as 2nd below Poland, with 20 points in 10 games (8-1-1), 20 goals scored and 8 conceded. In the playoffs they beat Ireland with a 0-0 result in the 1st leg and a 5-1 win in the 2nd. Since the quali they played just two friendlies against Panama (1-0) and Chile (0-0). They are a solid team, unbeaten in the entire 2017, including a 1-1 draw at home against Germany, that has in Eriksen (26) the main man to win games. There will be a great battle for 2nd place with Peru and maybe Australia, and they might not be the best bet of the three at these odds. BEST BET: Peru seems to offer much more value than them. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Group Stage: 2.21; Last16: 2.70; Quarter-Finals: 6.50

 

?? PERU

(To win: 251.00; To win group: 12.00; To qualify: 3.30; Rock Bottom: 3.00)
Peru had a very good news before the Cup regarding their captain and leader Guerrero (34) who will be available to play after the exclusion for failing a drug test. Peru are at their 5th participation in the final stages of the World Cup. Their last participation was in 1982. Their best result were the Quarter-Finals in 1970.
They qualified as 5th from the CONMEBOL group below Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Colombia, with 26 points out of 18 games (7-6-5) with 27 goals scored and 26 conceded. In the playoffs they eliminated New Zealand with a 2-0 win after a 0-0 draw in the 1st leg. Since then they had 3 positive victories against Croatia (2-0), Iceland (3-1) and Scotland (2-0). This is a team that arrives in very good form to this cup, unbeaten in the last 13 games, including a win against Uruguay and draws versus Argentina and Colombia. It is a team not to underrate that can clearly make a surprise result in this edition. If they beat Denmark for the 2nd place in the group, they then can go on and play a tough game against the 1st from Group D (Argentina, Nigeria, Croatia, Iceland), as they have positive results against 3 of these teams in the last year. Against Argentina they have 2 draws in the last 2 games played in the quali, so it’s not unlikely for them to push them to extra-time. In the Quarter-finals they should then face a bigger task in Spain. BEST BET: To qualify from the group @ 3.30. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Last16: 3.60; Quarter-Finals: 6.50

 

?? AUSTRALIA

(To win: 501.00; To win group: 21.00; To qualify: 4.75; Rock Bottom: 1.80)
Australia are at their 5th World Cup, after qualifying in 1974, 2006, 2010 and 2014. Their best result is the Last 16 in 2006, while in all the other editions they never passed the group stage. In this edition they qualified as 3rd in the Group B below Japan and Saudi Arabia, with 19 points in 10 games (5-4-1), 16 goals scored and 11 conceded. They then went on to win the playoff against Syria for 3-2, but only in Extra Time. In the final Inter-Confederation playoff they then eliminated Honduras with a 3-1 win in the 2nd leg after a 0-0 draw in the 1st leg at home. Since then they went on to play 3 friendlies, with a 4-1 loss against Norway, a positive 0-0 draw against Colombia and a 4-0 victory over Czech Republic.
In the World Cup they are in a competitive group with both Denmark and Peru in good form and with solid results heading to the tournament. It will be a success for them even to finish the group in the 3rd place. BEST BET: Best Asian/Oceanian team @ 4.33. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Group Stage 1.18

 

GROUP D


?? ARGENTINA

(To win: 11.00; To win group: 1.67; To qualify: 1.12; Rock Bottom: 26.00)
Argentina qualified for their 17th World Cup as 3rd from the CONMEBOL group below Brazil and Uruguay with 28 points in 18 games (7-7-4), 19 goals scored and 16 conceded. They struggled throughout the group and decided to hire Sampaoli in June of last year. With him they have a record of 6 wins, 3 draws and 2 losses in 11 games. Since the qualifications they won friendly games against Russia (1-0), Italy (2-0) and Haiti (4-0), but they also lost against Nigeria (4-2) and Spain (6-1). This last game proved that they still have many issues to solve before being considered title contenders this year.
They surely have plenty of talents, but they don’t seem to gel well together as other favorites like Germany, France, Spain and Brazil. If they pass as 1st in their group (which is not taken for granted), they will face either Peru or Denmark in the Last 16. Even this game could represent a problem for them, as Peru for example have 2 draws in the last 2 games against them. In the Quarter-Finals everything could be over against a more organized Spain. BEST BET: Eliminated in the Quarter-Finals @ 3.80. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Quarter-Finals: 3.80; Last 16: 3.40

 

?? CROATIA

(To win: 40.00; To win group: 3.60; To qualify: 1.53; Rock Bottom: 8.00)
Croatia are only at their 5th appearance at the World Cup with a 3rd place as their best result in 1998 with a fantastic team featuring Suker, Boban, Prosinecki, Stanic and Jarni. This time they will try to repeat the exploit with another great generation of players, like Modric (32), Rakitic (30), Kovacic (24), Perisic (29) and Mandzukic (32). They qualified from group I, below Iceland with 20 points out of 10 games (6-2-2), 15 goals scored and 4 conceded. In the playoffs they eliminated Greece with a 4-1 victory in the 1st leg and a 0-0 draw in the 2nd. Since then they played two friendlies against Peru (2-0 loss) and Mexico (1-0 win). Considering their journey towards the tournament, the not so impressive results and their history (they haven’t qualified from the group stages in the last 3 editions), they seem a bit overrated in this group. This is another squad full of talents, who never leave up to expectations. They are favorites to go through as 2nd in this group, although they finished below Iceland in the quali. If they go through as 2nd in the Group they should face France in the Last 16, which seem to be too strong for them right now. BEST BET: They don’t offer much value at these odds. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Group Stage: 2.60; Last 16: 2.73

 

?? NIGERIA

(To win: 251.00; To win group: 14.00; To qualify: 3.50; Rock Bottom: 2.40)
Nigeria are at their 6th World Cup participation, with a Last 16 result as their best result in three occasions (1994, 1998, 2014). They qualified from a very strong Group B above Zambia, Cameroon and Algeria. They finished unbeaten (if we don’t consider the defeat against Algeria for disciplinary reasons) and went on to some impressive results in the friendlies against Argentina (4-2 win) and Poland (1-0 win), but they also lost games against Serbia (2-0), Atletico Madrid (3-2) and England (2-1). This is a team full of young talents like Iwobi (22), Iheanacho (21), Ndidi (21) and Aina (21) that has the quality to qualify from this open group. I wouldn’t be suprised to see them make some surprising results from this group. The biggest problem for Nigeria is keeping clean sheets as they are pretty open defensively. BEST BET: To qualify from the group @ 3.50. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Group Stage: 1.33; Last 16: 4.50

 

?? ICELAND

(To win: 300.00; To win group: 15.00; To qualify: 3.75; Rock Bottom: 2.20)
Iceland are strangely underrated in this group. They are at their first participation in a World Cup, but they already surprised many in their first European Championship tournament in 2016, when they reached the Quarter-finals after beating England for 2-1 in the Last 16. They qualified in this edition from the same group as Croatia as 1st with 22 points out of 10 games (7-1-2), 16 goals scored and 7 conceded. In the quali they beat Croatia at home 1-0 and lost away 2-0. Since then they didn’t impress in friendlies, losing against Czech Republic (2-1), Mexico (3-0) and Peru (3-1). They are a group of players very united and who know each others very well and they are the typical tournament side, that thrive when plays competitive matches against bigger nations. The biggest worry for them is the defense as they have conceded a lot of goals both in the quali (7 in 10 games) and in the friendlies (9 in 4 games). BEST BET: Rock bottom @ 2.20. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Group Stage: 1.29; Last 16: 4.75

 

GROUP E


?? BRAZIL

(To win: 5.60; To win group: 1.30; To qualify: 1.06; Rock Bottom: 40.00)
Brazil comes to this edition in a very strong position, having qualified as 1st in the CONMEBOL group with 41 points in 18 games (12-5-1), 41 goals scored and 11 conceded. A pretty impressive qualification run where they showed to be both very dangerous going forward and very solid defensively (8 clean sheets in the last 10 qualification games). They should have no big problems going through in a group alongside Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia, and in the Last 16 they should have a very good draw against the 2nd from Group F (Mexico, Sweden, or South Korea). In the Quarter-finals they should then face the 1st from Group G (Belgium or England) or the 2nd from Group H (Senegal, Poland or Colombia) opening up their path to the Semi-Finals. In the SF if everything goes to the plan they should then face France for a place in the final. BEST BET: Top South American team @ 2.00. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Runners-up: 7.00; Semi-finals: 5.00

 

?? SWITZERLAND

(To win: 151.00; To win group: 8.50; To qualify: 2.10; Rock Bottom: 5.00)
Switzerland have qualified for their 11th World Cup, with the Quarter-Finals in 1934, 1938 and 1954 being their best results. In this edition they qualified from Group B just above Portugal (although they finished with the same amount of points) with 27 points out of 10 games (9-0-1), 23 goals scored and 7 conceded. They then eliminated Northern Ireland in the playoffs with a 1-0 win in the 1st leg and a 0-0 draw in the 2nd. Since then they won two friendlies against Greece (1-0) and Panama (6-0) and they made a solid draw against Spain (1-1). This is a solid team that can absolutely qualify as 2nd from this group, beating both Serbia and Costa Rica. Their 2-0 loss against Portugal in October showed their limits and Germany would represent a giant of an obstacle for them in the Last 16. BEST BET: Eliminated in the Last 16 @ 3.05. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Group Stage: 1.85; Last 16: 3.05

 

?? SERBIA

(To win: 250.00; To win group: 10.00; To qualify: 2.25; Rock Bottom: 3.75)
Serbia have qualified for their 2nd World Cup after the one in 2010 if we don’t consider their record as Serbia and Montenegro, and Yugoslavia. In 2010 they didn’t pass the group (with Germany, Ghana, Australia), while they didn’t qualify for the last edition in 2014. This time they topped Group D in the quali, above Ireland, Wales and Austria with 21 points out of 10 games (6-3-1), 20 goals scored and 10 conceded. Since then they won firendlies against China (2-0) and Nigeria (2-0), while losing 2-1 against Morocco and drawing 1-1 versus South Korea. They will need better performances to pass as 2nd from this group as both Switzerland and Costa Rica are good, solid sides. BEST BET: Rock bottom @ 3.75 MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Group Stage: 1.73; Last 16: 3.10

 

?? COSTA RICA

(To win: 751.00; To win group: 30.00; To qualify: 5.00; Rock Bottom: 1.83)
Incredibly underrated Costa Rica is back again at the World Cup after the exploit of 2014, when they reached the Quarter-Finals after going through as 1st in a group with Italy, England and Uruguay, and eliminating Greece in the Last 16, before going out in a penalty shootout against runner-ups Netherlands. This time they arrive to the tournament after finishing 2nd in the CONCACAF group after Mexico, with 16 points in 10 games (4-4-2), 14 goals scored and 8 conceded.
This is very much in line with their last record in the quali prior to 2014, 18 points (5-3-2), 13 goals scored and 7 conceded. Since then they went on to lose friendly matches against Spain (5-0), Hungary (1-0) and Tunisia (1-0) and England (2-0). They have also won against Scotland (1-0) and Northern Ireland (3-0). Costa Rica, like Iceland, seems to be a side that put their best effort in big tournaments and especially against better sides.
The squad is also very much alike the one we’ve seen in 2014, with the likes of Keylor Navas in goal, Acosta, Gamboa, Duarte in defense, Borges, Bolanos in midfield and Bryan Ruiz, Joel Campbell, Urena as strikers. With a positive result in the 1st game against Serbia, this team can become really dangerous for Switzerland for the 2nd place. If they go thorugh they should face a bigger task in the mighty Germans in the last 16. BEST BET: To qualify from the group @ 5.00. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Group Stage: 1.22; Last 16: 5.00

 

GROUP F


?? GERMANY

(To win: 5.85; To win group: 1.42; To qualify: 1.07; Rock Bottom: 50.00)
Football is a simple game. 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win. This quote from Gary Lineker basically represents Germany in competitive tournaments. 4 World Cup wins, 4 times Runner-up, 4 times 3rd, one time 4th, 3 times out in the Quarter-Finals, one time out in the 2nd group stage and just once out in the 1st round in 1938. An incredible record that keeps updating every edition of the World Cup.
This time they qualified from Group C, with 10 wins out of 10 games (30 points), 43 goals scored and just 4 conceded. In the friendlies since the quali they had three draws against England (0-0), France (2-2) and Spain (1-1), while they lost the last two against Brazil (1-0) and Austria (2-1). Although the last team to win all of their qualification games went on to win the cup (Spain in 2010), no other team have won back to back the cup since Brazil in 1962, and no other team have won while they were 1st in the FIFA ranking.
The last two former champions went on to big failures in the next cup (Italy in 2010 and Spain in 2014). Unless the omen is repeated here, the Germans should be able to pass the group as 1st and face the 2nd from Group E (Switzerland, Serbia or Costa Rica). In the QF they should then face either the winner from Group H (Colombia, Poland or Senegal), or the 2nd from Group G (England or Belgium). In the Semi-Finals they should then face the heavyweight Spain. BEST BET: Highest scoring team in the tournament @ 6.00. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Runners-Up: 6.50; Semi-Finals: 5.50

 

?? MEXICO

(To win: 126.00; To win group: 7.00; To qualify: 2.10; Rock Bottom: 4.50)
Mexico are coming to this tournament after qualifying as 1st from the CONCACAF group above Costa Rica and Panama, with 21 points in 10 games (6-3-1), 16 goals scored and 7 conceded. They have passed the group stage in the last 6 consecutive World Cup played and look stronger than 4 years ago. They had good results in the friendlies with wins against Poland (1-0), Bosnia (1-0), Iceland (3-0), draws versus Belgium (3-3) and Wales (0-0) and a loss against Croatia (1-0).
This is one of their best squad in recent years with the likes of Guardado (31), Herrera (28), Layun (29), Chicharito Hernandez (30), Raul Jimenez (27). They will also feature two veterans like Rafa Marquez (39) and Ochoa (32) in goal.
In the group they will need to eliminate both Sweden and South Korea for the 2nd place, and it looks like they have all the quality and experience to do it. In the Last 16 they would be probably too weak for the giant Brazil. BEST BET: Eliminated in the Last 16 @ 3.00. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Last 16: 3.00; Group Stage: 1.75

 

?? SWEDEN

(To win: 300.00; To win group: 8.00; To qualify: 2.30; Rock Bottom: 4.20)
Sweden have qualified to the World Cup after not participating in the last two editions, despite having their best player (Ibrahimovic) in his prime years. Now they are coming back without him for this torunament. They qualified as 2nd from Group A behind France, with 19 points out of 10 games (6-1-3), 26 goals scored and 9 conceded. In the playoffs they eliminated Italy thanks to a superlative defensive game both in 1st leg (1-0) and in the 2nd (0-0) in Milan. Since then they had results in line with their expectations and quality in friendlies, a win against Denmark (1-0), two draws against Estonia (1-1) and Denmark again (0-0), and two losses against Chile (2-1) and Romania (1-0). They don’t play the prettiest football on earth and most of the times lack quality and ideas going forward and it will be hard for them to even go through the group stage. Their defensive play though fits these types of tournaments, as we have seen Cista Rica and Chile doing well with a defensive approach. BEST BET: Regret not taking Zlatan to the World Cup. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Group Stage: 1.65; Last 16: 3.30

 

?? SOUTH KOREA

(To win: 751.00; To win group: 20.00; To qualify: 5.00; Rock Bottom: 1.89)
South Korea seems to be the weakest side in this group. They passed the group stages in just two occasions (2002, 2010) in the last 8 World Cup tournament played. They qualified this time as 2nd in Group A behind Iran, with 15 points out of 10 games (4-3-3), 11 goals scored and 10 conceded. Since the qualis they proved once again in friendlies how much they concede defensively with 8 goals conceded just in the last 4 games played, with losses against Bosnia (3-1), Poland (3-2) and Northern Ireland (2-1). BEST BET: Rock bottom @ 1.89. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Group Stage: 1.32

 

GROUP G


?? BELGIUM

(To win: 12.00; To win group: 1.90; To qualify: 1.11; Rock Bottom: 46.00)
Belgium are at their 3rd major tournaments with their golden generation after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where they reached the Quarter-Finals before being beaten by Argentina, and the Euro 2016, where they were stopped as well in the QF against Wales. This time some of their big players will be even more experienced, like Hazard (27), Witsel (29), De Bruyne (26), Lukaku (25), Mertens (31), Courtois (26) and Alderweireld (29). This current squad has the the all-time record goalscorer, Lukaku (33 goals in 67 games) and the most capped player, Vertonghen (100 caps). Most of them are at the top of their careers and should take advantage of this world cup as one of their best chance to shine and make history for their country.
They qualified from Group H unbeaten as 1st above Greece and Bosnia, with 28 points in 10 games (9-1-0), 43 goals scored and 6 conceded. In the friendlies they beat Saudi Arabia (4-0) and Japan (1-0), while they drew against both Mexico (3-3) and Portugal (0-0). In Group G they should be favorites to go through as 1st, although England could take that spot too. If they go through as 1st they should face the 2nd from Group H (Poland, Senegal or Colombia), while in the Quarter-Finals everything could be over against a very strong Brazil side. On the other hand if they go through as 2nd they would face the 1st from Group H (always Poland, Senegal or Colombia), but probably Germany in the Quarter-Finals.
It is clear they will need a big result against one of the big favortes to have a chance of make it to the Semi-Finals. BEST BET: Eliminated in the Quarter-Finals @ 3.30. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: QF: 3.30; Semi-Finals: 6.50; Last 16: 2.80

 

?????ENGLAND

(To win: 20.00; To win group: 2.30; To qualify: 1.13; Rock Bottom: 26.00)
Despite all the bad press and skepticism this is a good team that should not be underrated. England have some of the most interesting young players in the world and although in this World Cup they might be too unexperienced, they will be a major force in future tournaments. Their record in recent major cups is not the best, with two Quarter-Finals (2002, 2006), two Last 16 (1998, 2010) and one Group stage exits (2014) in the last five appearances.
This is a new generation of players that need time to develop before winning major tounaments. Dele Alli (22), Sterling (23), Rashford (20), Dier (24) and Kane (27) are all developing into world class players and still have not reached their career peaks. They qualified unbeaten from Group F with 26 points out of 10 games (8-2-0), above Slovakia and Scotland, with 18 goals scored and just 3 conceded. In the friendles they confirmed their good form with two wins against both the Netherlands (1-0) and Nigeria (2-1), and three draws against Germany, Brazil and Italy. These games have also confirmed that they struggle scoring goals, while they are pretty solid defensively. This is a team that will go very likely in Extra-Time/Penalty in the elimination round.
Like Belgium their position in the group will determine if they will face either Brazil or Germany in the Quarter-Finals and like them they will need to eliminate one between Poland, Senegal or Colombia to reach it. These are not easy games and they could easily end in draws with Extra time and penalties on the line. BEST BET: Eliminated by penalty shootout @ 6.00. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Quarter-Finals: 3.20; Last 16: 3.20 Group Stage: 6.00

 

?? TUNISIA

(To win: 1001.00; To win group: 21.00; To qualify: 6.00; Rock Bottom: 2.70)
Tunisia are at their 5th appearances at the World Cup and in their history they have never passed the group stages. This Tunisia side could a dangerous team for both Belgium and England for the 2nd place. They have qualified from Group A above DR Congo, Libya and Guinea with 14 points out of 6 games (4-2-0), 11 goals scored and 4 conceded. Like England and Belgium they finished unbeaten the qualifications and had good results in friendlies, like wins against Iran (1-0) and Costa Rica (1-0) and draws versus both Portugal (2-2) and Turkey (2-2). They have a solid group of players playing mostly in France and Tunisia, that could frustrate both Belgium and England in this group. BEST BET: Nothing attractive here. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Group Stage: 1.18; Last 16: 6.00

 

?? PANAMA

(To win: 2001.00; To win group: 51.00; To qualify: 10.00; Rock Bottom: 1.62)
Panama are considered by the bookies the weakest team in this World Cup, with a 2001/1 odds on them winning the competition. They are at their 1st pariticipation at he final stages of a World Cup after finishing 3rd in the CONCACAF group below Mexico and Costa Rica, with 13 points in 10 games (3-4-3), 9 goals scored and 10 conceded. In the friendlies they kept the field well against both Denmark (1-0 loss) and Northern Ireland (0-0), bu they showed their limits against Switzerland in March (6-0). In this group they have little chances to advance as all three others, Belgium, England and Tunisia are good and organized sides. BEST BET: Rock bottom @ 1.62 MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Group Stage: 1.06

 

GROUP H


?? COLOMBIA

(To win: 71.00; To win group: 2.50; To qualify: 1.45; Rock Bottom: 7.80)
Colombia are a very interesting team in this edition. They are heading to the tournament after a Quarter-Final result achieved in the last one in 2014, where they impressed before going out with Brazil (2-1), and a 3rd place in the Copa America played in 2016. They qualified from the CONMEBOL group in the 4th place after Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, with 27 points in 18 games (7-6-5), 21 goals scored and 19 conceded. In the friendlies, after losing against South Korea (2-1), they managed to record wins against China (4-0) and France (3-2), before two consecutive draws against Australia (0-0) and Egypt (0-0). They certainly have the quality to progress as 1st from this very open group (Poland, Senegal, Japan), and face England or Belgium in the Last16. If they go through they might face Germany in the Quarter-Finals. If they progress as 2nd, and manage to beat either Belgium or England they will go on against Brazil in the Quarter-Finals. BEST BET: To win group @ 2.50. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Last 16: 2.40; Quarter-Finals: 4.50

 

?? POLAND

(To win: 75.00; To win group: 2.88; To qualify: 1.57; Rock Bottom: 7.00)
Poland are back to the World Cup after failing to qualify in the last two editions (2010, 2014), while they didn’t pass the group stages in the last two appearances in 2002 and 2006. They qualified as 1st from Group E above Denmark and Montenegro, with 25 points in 10 games (8-1-1), 28 goals scored and 14 conceded. They are the team that conceded more goals in the qualifications from Europe, which could be a concern for their chances to advance in this tournament. In the friendlies they lost two games against Mexico (1-0) and Nigeria (1-0), they drew against Uruguay (0-0) and won against South Korea (3-2) but not without showing problem at the back. They are in an open group where everything can happen, and they can count on the goals of Lewandoski, who was the top scorer in the quali with 14 goals out of the 28 they scored (50%), but considering their poor historical record and their form they should be backed carefully. If they finish 3rd it shouldn’t be a huge shock in the end. BEST BET: Eliminated in the group stage @ 2.33 MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Group Stage: 2.33; Last 16: 2.63

 

?? SENEGAL

(To win: 251.00; To win group: 6.50; To qualify: 2.50; Rock Bottom: 3.20)
Senegal tend to do well when they qualify to the World Cup. The last and only cup they have played was in 2002, when they managed to beat the former champions France, qualify from the group as 2nd (eliminating Uruguay and France), go through the Last 16, thanks to a win against Sweden in Extra time before being stopped by Turkey in the Quarter-finals. While that team was full of young talents ready to be discovered in Europe, this one has more experienced players already playing in top leagues. Mané (26) and Koulibaly (26) are the best players and leaders of this team and a perfect example of how Senegalese football have grown since the last World Cup played. They qualified unbeaten from Group D (Burkina, Cape Verde, South Africa) with 14 points out of 6 games (4-2-0), 10 goals scored and 3 conceded. If we exclude their loss on penalties against Cameroon and the last friendly played against Croatia, this team is unbeaten in the last 23 games played, with three draws in the last three friendlies against Uzbekistan (1-1), Bosnia (0-0) and Luxemburg (0-0), not the greatest national teams around. The biggest problem with them and other African teams is that they usually don’t play a lot of games against top opponents before tournaments, and it might be difficult to judge. They surely have the quality to go through as 1st or 2nd from this group, but they might lack the solidity to beat bigger teams (England or Belgium). BEST BET: Eliminated in the Last 16 @ 3.40. MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Last 16: 3.40; Group Stage: 1.60

 

?? JAPAN

(To win: 500.00; To win group: 9.00; To qualify: 3.00; Rock Bottom: 2.50)
Japan have qualified for the 6th consecutive World Cup, after reaching the Last 16 two times in the last five appearances. They qualified as 1st from Group B above Saudi Arabia and Australia, with 20 points out of 10 games (6-2-2), 17 goals scored and 7 conceded. In the friendlies they lost three out of four of them against Brazil (3-1), Belgium (1-0), South Korea (4-1), with a draw against Mali (1-1) in March. Not the most impressive display before the tournament, although this is a very open group where we might see surprise every game week and Japan might be in the mix for the 3rd place. BEST BET: Rock bottom @ 2.50 MOST PROBABLE STAGE OF ELIMINATION: Group Stage: 1.41

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