2018 FIFA World Cup: The Groups
Now that the draw for the 2018 World Cup in Russia has been made, anticipation is already high ahead of the most famous football competition across the globe. The 32 nations involved will all be looking to make a name for themselves next summer, with some of the worlds leading players set to battle it out for their respective countries. However, with form often going out of the window when it comes to the World Cup, we have taken an in-depth look at all of the Groups for 2018, as well as some predictions and betting odds ahead of the competition.
Teams: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
Hosts Russia will have undoubtedly been happy with the recent draw for 2018 World Cup Finals, with manager Stanislav Cherchesov now preparing his players for clashes against Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay. With the hosts and their South American rivals being the undoubted favourites to qualify for the knockout phase of the competition from this group, it is up to minnows Saudi Arabia and Egypt to make a name for themselves. Russia have only exited the competition at the earliest opportunity once in their history, coming in South Africa in 2010.
- Prediction: Uruguay to defeat Russia in the final Group A match to finish top.
- Odds: Uruguay are 2,1 (1xBet) to win Group A, Russia to beat Saudi Arabia on the opening day @ 1,444 (NairaBet)
Teams: Portugal, Spain, Iran, Morocco
Euro 2016 winners Portugal have been drawn in the same group as neighbours Spain, in what is undoubtedly the biggest match of the opening week in Russia. With both teams having won their respective qualifying campaigns in Europe, the winner of the opening match could well go on to top Group B. With little expected from both Iran and Morocco, it is already looking like a two-horse race for qualification.
- Prediction: Spain to win all three matches on their way to topping Group B.
- Odds: Spain to top Group B @1,5 (Betway), Morocco to beat Iran @2,25 (Bet9ja)
Teams: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
Having lost out in the final of Euro 2016 in front of their home fans, France will be looking to reach their top gear in Russia, where Didier Deschamps’ men will take on Australia, Peru and Denmark in Group C. Despite the top seeds being the firm favourites to qualify, this is one of the more competitive groups around, with Denmark having dispatched of the Republic of Ireland in order to make it to the Finals. Meanwhile, Australia are taking part in their fourth straight World Cup, having reached the Round of 16 back in 2006 in Germany.
- Prediction: Denmark to join France in the knockout phase
- Odds: France to top Group C @1,333 (Bet9ja), Denmark to beat Peru in their opening fixture @2,15 (360Bet)
Teams: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
Argentina and Nigeria meet for the fifth time in six World Cup’s, with the duo being joined by debutants Iceland and fellow European side Croatia in Group D. Despite having only qualified for the Finals by the skin of their teeth, Argentina are still the firm favourites to qualify, with Lionel Messi looking to continue his fine form at international level in recent times. With Iceland having defeated England at Euro 2016, it would take a brave man to bet against them causing a few more upsets in Russia.
- Prediction: Messi to fire Argentina to top spot, with Croatia joining them narrowly ahead of Iceland.
- Odds: Croatia to qualify @1,5 (NairaBet), Nigeria not to qualify @1,33 (MerryBet)
Teams: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
Having topped their World Cup qualifying group, Serbia can perhaps count themselves unfortunate to have been drawn alongside five-time winners Brazil, as well as Costa Rica, who were one of the surprise packages in 2014. Brazil dominated CONMEBOL qualifying to make it safely to Russia, with the likes of PSG trio Neymar Jr, Thiago Silva and Dani Alves helping to make up an exciting starting eleven for the South American’s.
- Prediction: Brazil to win three from three to top Group E, with Switzerland and Serbia battling it out for the runner-up spot.
- Odds: Brazil to defeat Switzerland @1,44 (1XBet), Serbia to qualify @2,11 (Surebet247)
Teams: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
Reigning champions Germany face off against Mexico in their opening Group F encounter, with Joachim Low looking to guide his side to another success in Russia. However, with Sweden having given a demonstration of their qualities in beating Italy over two-legs to qualify for the finals, it is the two European nations who are the favourites to make it through to the Round of 16. Mexico are a team capable of causing an upset on their day, while Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min is the biggest threat for South Korea.
- Prediction: Germany to defeat Mexico in their opening game on their way to topping Group F, followed by Sweden as runners-up.
- Odds: Sweden to qualify @2,25 (LionsBet), Germany to beat Mexico @1,533 (NairaBet)
Teams: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England
Many in England are still debating as to just how good a draw it was for Gareth Southgate and his players, with Belgium certainly their toughest opponents on paper. Both sides qualified with ease from their respective qualifying groups, with Premier League stars Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku more than aware of what is facing them in Russia. Little is expected of Panama in their first ever appearance at a World Cup Finals, while Tunisia will be looking to gain revenge on their defeat to England at the 1998 World Cup in France.
- Prediction: Belgium to top Group G with a win over England in the final game, however Gareth Southgate’s side will still join them in the Round of 16.
- Odds: Belgium to win the group @1,833 (MerryBet), England to beat Tunisia @1,364 (888Sport)
Teams: Poland, Senegal, Colombia and Japan
Despite being one of the least inspiring groups in the tournament, Group H could actually turn out to be one of the most competitive, with any side having the ability to beat another on their day. Poland are the top seeds however, with striker Robert Lewandowski being the leading scorer during qualifying in Europe. However, Colombia were unlucky to suffer defeat against Brazil in the quarter-finals four years ago, and could well pose a serious threat. Both Senegal and Japan head into the competition hoping to record some giant-killing results.
- Prediction: Senegal to shock Poland in their opening match, with Colombia topping the group with the help of the likes of James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao.
- Odds: Colombia to top Group H @2,25 (Betway), Senegal to beat Poland @3,40 (NairaBet)