The countdown has begun for World Cup 2018 which begins on June 14th. Russia will host this prestigious tournament and it is always a hugely popular betting event. 32 teams have qualified to participate in the competition and following the draw in December 2017, they have each been split into eight groups. Two sides will progress from each section and compete in the knock-out round. We assess which teams are likely to negotiate the group stage and make it into the last 16. There have been some terrific and memorable group matches over the past couple of tournaments and it always throws up one or two surprises. Our World Cup predictions have analysed which sides are likely to sail through the early stages of the competition and who is likely to ensure group qualification during the nail-biting final fixture. Portugal failed to make it through the group-stages in 2014, will we see any of the bigger teams crash out unceremoniously? Group A Predictions Uruguay are favourites to make it through to the last 16 of the tournament. They have a number of players who are handy in the final third with both Edison Cavani and Luis Suarez likely to be popular in the top goalscorer market. 888Sport make them 2.10 to finish top of Group A and they qualified competently behind runaway leaders Brazil. They have been dealt a relatively straightforward group and although they don’t have the youngest squad at the tournament, there is plenty of experience in their ranks. The two-time World Cup winners have the edge here and they are rightfully top of our Group A World Cup predictions. Hosts Russia have endured an inconsistent few years but they should be able to follow Uruguay into the knock-out rounds. They open proceedings against Saudi Arabia but they already have a number of injuries to contend with Aleksandr Kokorin the latest player to be ruled out of the competition. They have a decent chance of progressing but are unlikely to finish above Uruguay. Egypt have an outside chance of qualifying and they will be relying on the individual brilliance of Mo Salah who is priced at 66.00 in the top goalscorer market. The pharaohs have been given a decent opportunity here and have been drawn in a weak group but they will be relying upon either Russia or Uruguay to implode. Our World Cup predictions don’t give Saudi Arabia much chance of qualifying and they look comfortably the weakest team in this section. Group B Predictions Spain are the obvious choice in Group B and our World Cup predictions heavily fancy Spain’s manager side to secure their place in the knock-out round. They begin against neighbours Portugal and many punters will be expecting this Spanish side to have secured their place in the last 16 with a game to spare. They are always a force in this tournament and they begin the tournament as fourth favourites in the World Cup winner market. Euro 2016 champions Portugal look worthy of group qualification. They may find themselves unable to finish above Spain in Group B but they should encounter very few problems against the other two sides. They still rely heavily Cristiano Ronaldo and at 16.00 in the outright market, they aren’t likely to reach the final but should have a solid group stage and make up for an underwhelming World Cup 2014. Morocco have been handed an incredibly tough group and our predictions don’t believe they have enough to secure qualification to the next round. They are tough to break down and certainly should make life difficult for the opposition but alongside both Spain and Portugal, progress looks unlikely for the North African side. Iran are one of the lowest-ranked teams in the tournament and aren’t given much hope of qualifying for the last 16. They were always going to be up against it but this is an incredibly tough draw. Group C Predictions France are the side expected to dominate Group C and they are rated as almost certainties to qualify from this section. Les Bleus have struggled at the back during recent games but they have an abundance of firepower and a bench packed full of talent. They are 6.11 to be the World Cup winners in 2018 with Sports Interaction and their group doesn’t appear overly challenging. They narrowly missed out on silverware at Euro 2016 and the 1998 winners will be determined to bounce back from that disappointment. Denmark have the potential to be one of the tournament’s surprise packages and they have been given a decent chance of progressing to the round of 16. They are favoured over Peru to reach the knock-out round and have a young and exciting team which is led by the classy Christian Eriksen. As long as they avoid defeat in their opening game against the South American side, they should be able to ensure progression. Peru are a bit of an unknown quantity but they were the last side to book their place in Russia and they may just fall short here. They have a number of talented players but suffered from inconsistencies during their South American qualifying campaign and that’s why we have favoured Denmark in this market. Australia look a little short on quality. They are likely to play their part in an exciting group but inevitably fall short. The Socceroos have been deemed the unlikeliest side to qualify from Group C. Group D Predictions Argentina appear to be the dominant force in Group D and have plenty of class in their squad. They still look suspect at the back but our predictions deem it highly unlikely that they will slip up here. They can always rely on the brilliance of Lionel Messi and having reached the final of the 2014 World Cup, they should be able to qualify with a game to spare. Croatia always seem to make hard work of things but they have been given a decent chance of qualifying for the knock-out rounds. They still have a number of talented performers such as Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic and their presence should be enough to book their place in the next round of the competition. Iceland were the surprise package at Euro 2016 and they will be hoping they can remain under the radar in Group C. 888Sport offer odds of 3.75 for them to finish in the top two but according to our predictions, they are likely to just miss out here. Teams who impress at previous competitions are very rarely able to replicate that feat and that could be the case for Iceland. Nigeria are rated as the outsiders here but the Super Eagles are not completely out of this. The African side will be ready to pounce upon any slip-ups and although it will take an unusual set of results to qualify, they aren’t without a chance. Group E Predictions Brazil are viewed as potential World Cup winners and it’s no surprise to see them installed as the overwhelming favourites to qualify from Group E. Tite’s side are 5.69 with Sports Interaction to clinch their sixth title and they’ve been dealt a kind draw. They are unlikely to find this too taxing and with the likes of Neymar and Gabriel Jesus in their side, they should be able to score plenty of goals along the way. Switzerland and Serbia are both rated as decent chances to qualify behind Brazil. Both of these sides are capable and possess a number of talented players. Aleksandar Mitrovic has played himself into contention for the latter after impressing for Fulham in the English Championship and Serbia are likely to create plenty of chances. Switzerland might rely upon individual moments of brilliance and have been given the slight edge when it comes to qualifying for the last 16. Costa Rica played the dark horse role during the 2014 World Cup but they are unlikely to replicate those heroics here. They’ve been drawn in another tough group and it looks far too competitive. They will undoubtedly equip themselves well but inevitably fall short in their quest for a place in the knock-out rounds. Group F Predictions There’s another hot favourite in Group F with holders Germany expected to fly through this stage of the competition. They have been given the best chance of progressing and have been drawn in a kind group. Joachim Low’s side rarely slip-up and are unlikely to find Sweden, Mexico or Korea Republic too challenging as they Inevitably clinch top spot here. Sweden have been rated as having the second best chance of progressing and our predictions believe that their success over Italy was not a one-off. They have a decent mix of youth and experience and they should be able to book their place in the next round. Mexico lost to an under-strength Germany in the Confederations Cup last year and they won’t be overly pleased to see the World Champions in here once again. They always sail through their qualification but are just too inconsistent. They will provide plenty of entertainment but may let in a few too many goals. Korea Republic have been given little chance of progressing. They can be dangerous on their day but this is extremely tough and they should book their return tickets in advance. Group G Predictions Group G looks fascinating and it also looks a straight shoot-out between Belgium and England. The Red Devils have been given the edge here and they have a number of hugely talented players in their squad such as Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard. They have flattered to deceive so far but this could the tournament in which they lay down a marker and they should easily qualify for the next stage. England are predicted to follow Belgium into the next stage and have the imperious Harry Kane to call upon. The Spurs striker is fifth favourite in the World Cup odds to win the Golden Boot at 18.00 and will be pivotal to England’s chances of progressing here. Tunisia are the side who will be waiting to pounce should either Belgium or England under perform. The North African outfit aren’t fancied to book their place in the next round but expect them to be well-organised and tough to break down. Panama have done brilliantly to qualify for the World Cup 2018 but their journey ends here and our predictions don’t expect them to make an impact. Group H Predictions Group H looks fascinating and also wide-open. Colombia have been given the narrow advantage and are expected to qualify. They possess the 2014 World Cup Golden boot winner in James Rodriguez and their quality in the final third should help them progress without too many problems. Poland have Robert Lewandowski and he is likely to be prominent and prolific during this stage of the competition. Their problem under Adam Nawalka has been keeping clean sheets and the fact that they concede so many goals is likely to be troublesome. In the final third, they should still have enough to qualify behind Colombia, according to our predictions. Senegal have played the role of party-poppers before but they might just fall short of qualifying here. They should be competitive but it may not be enough here. The African side have plenty of creativity and firepower and will be waiting to take advantage of any slip-ups. Despite having a semi-decent history in this competition, Japan are not expected to make their presence felt in Group H and are unlikely to qualify for the knock-out rounds.