World Cup 2018: Team-By-Team Preview and Odds
32 teams will travel to Russia for the 2018 World Cup and here at BettingTop10 we’ve taken a look at each participant and analysed their chances of success at the tournament. The groups have been drawn and every side has been handed their group-stage fixtures, who will progress?
Group A Odds
As hosts, plenty is expected of Russia at this tournament. Stanislav Cherchesov has taken over and has revitalised the side since their embarrassing exit at Euro 2016. Their star players are likely to be Fyodor Smolov and Aleksandr Kokorin, who has impressed at Zenit. They are ranked 61st in the FIFA rankings and are considered second favourites in the group, behind Uruguay. They will be expected to progress to the round of 16 and will have plenty of support throughout. They have plenty to prove and could be dangerous.
They are 2/7 to qualify from the group but 7/4 to finish above Uruguay and that could be a decent bet in Group A.
Veteran manager Oscar Tabarez remains in charge of Uruguay and guides them to the 2018 World Cup. As the current longest serving manager in International football, Tabarez is hugely knowledgeable and a savvy operator. Much will be expected of his side with Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani with both players quietly fancied in the top goalscorer market. They managed to reach the Semi-Finals of the 2010 tournament and will be aiming to replicate that in Russia. The 1950 winners have plenty of talent have been drawn in a seemingly straightforward group and shouldn’t find it too problematic.
It is 4/5 that Uruguay finish top of Group A and they are 2/9 to secure their qualification into the round of 16. The price of 15/8 with William Hill for Uruguay to reach the quarter-finals looks tempting.
Ranked 47th in the world, Egypt are considered one of the outsiders in this tournament but the odds compilers have been cautious with the African side. Hector Couper has his side well-organised and they are going to be extremely reliant on the individual talent of Mo Salah. The winger has netted over 20 Premier League goals this season and is priced at around 20/1 in the top goalscorer market. This is just their third World Cup and they’ll be hoping the fact they have avoided being drawn alongside any perceived bigger teams in Group A.
Egypt are a tempting 11/8 to secure their qualification from Group A and will be hoping that either Uruguay or Russia underperform at the tournament. They are an ambitious looking 6/1 to finish top of their section but they will just be satisfied with reaching the knock-out round.
Saudi Arabia have certainly had their fair share of managers over the past few years but have they finally found stability under Juan Antonio Pizzi? They are ranked 64th in the world and very little is expected of them at this tournament. They don’t have too many notable players in their squad but Nawaf Al Abid impressed during the qualification campaign. They have a free-shot here as nobody is anticipating them to progress.
A chunky 6/1 is available on Saudi Arabia to qualify from Group A is available but they’re going to find it a bit tough here. They leaked a lot of goals towards the end of the qualification campaign and will need to tighten up if they are to make an impression. They are 8/13 with William Hill to finish bottom of the group.
Group B Odds
La Roja are one of the fancied teams for the 2018 World Cup and under Julen Lopetegui, they will be expected to reach the latter stages. They have a watertight defence and will be looking to clinch their second World Cup inside 10 years. David Silva is the star player although Isco is likely to have a big say on proceedings too. They are ranked sixth in the world by FIFA and although their squad is perceived to be ageing, they still have enormous potential. Can they use their vast experience and defensive resolve to their advantage?
Even though they’ve been drawn alongside neighbours Portugal, realistically, Spain should finish as group winners at a price of 1/2. They are a tempting 3/1 to reach the final this year and many will be eyeing up that price on Lopetegui’s side.
Euro 2016 winners Portugal have never won a World Cup and they’ll be aiming to put that right in Russia. Fernando Santos remains in place in the dugout and can still call upon the majority of his side who tasted success just two years ago. They are third in the FIFA rankings and have to be considered underdogs here. Their price has increased after they were drawn alongside Spain in Group B but they displayed their ability to keep it tight in France and there’s no reason to suggest they won’t reach the quarter finals. Much of their play will go through the talismanic Cristiano Ronaldo once again.
Portugal are 8/11 to reach the quarter-final stage of the tournament and given how well-organised they looked in 2016, that doesn’t look a bad odds-on shot. Any further progression is doubtful.
Morocco were unlucky to exit the 1998 World Cup prematurely and they only have two victories so far at World Cup tournaments but French coach Herve Renard will be hoping to change all that in Russia. The African side are ranked 42nd in the FIFA rankings, once place ahead of Egypt but they face an uphill challenge here. They have talented players such as Hakim Ziyech and Mehdi Benatia and shouldn’t finish bottom of their group but being drawn alongside Portugal and Spain is far from ideal.
Morocco are predicted to finish third in the group and a straight tricast of Spain/Portugal/Morocco is available at 3/1 with William Hill.
Carlos Queiroz may be a familiar name to Manchester United fans and he guides Iran to the 2018 World Cup here. His side have been written off and have been handed a tough group alongside Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Queiroz has already taken Iran to the World Cup once before and he will be hoping his side can pull off a shock. Sardar Azmoun is a hugely talented player and he will be responsible for pushing his side forward throughout the group stage.
Iran are expected to leave Russia pointless but they will be aiming to prove their doubters wrong. They are joint 10/11 favourite with Morocco to finish bottom of the group and that looks a nice price.
Group C Odds
Plenty is expected of the 1998 World Cup winners France and Didier Deschamps will be hoping to make up for the disappointing of losing the Euro 2016 final to Portugal. They are amongst the favourites for the tournament at 11/2. They have an abundance of talent but Les Blues are surprisingly only ranked 9th in the world according to FIFA. Much will be expected of Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele, the latter must remain fit in time for this competition. Paul Pogba should pull the strings in the middle of the park and Hugo Lloris is an experienced head. They are overwhelming favourites in Group C and can probably be expected to progress with a perfect record.
France are an attractive price of 11/4 to reach the final of the 2018 World Cup but they may just fall short at the final hurdle once again.
Denmark aren’t far behind France in the FIFA rankings, currently occupying 12th position. They are considered second favourite in Group C and perhaps could be seen as underdogs. The Danes needed a play-off to qualify for the tournament but they look threatening and Age Hareide is an experienced coach who can get the best out of this group of players. Christian Eriksen is undoubtedly the star attraction in this side and is a potential outsider in the top goalscorer market. He is a threat from set-pieces and they should give France a run for their money in this section.
4/5 looks a good enough price for Denmark to secure qualification from Group C although more ambitious punters could be tempted by the 4/1 on offer for them to finish above France.
Peru were the last team to secure their place at the 2018 World Cup having required a play-off to ensure their participation in Russia. They are generally seen as ‘lively outsiders’ in Group C and have a number of players who could make a name for themselves on this stage. Ricardo Gareca is the coach and is nicknamed ‘El Tigre’, he is unlikely to accept any below-par performances in this tournament and they could threaten Denmark for that second qualification spot behind France. They are ranked one place above Denmark in the FIFA rankings and could easily shock their European opponents.
Peru are 6/4 to qualify for the knock-out round and that could be a decent proposition. They are an unpredictable package and very few punters will know what to expect.
The Socceroos survived a few scares during qualifying and their place at the 2018 World Cup was hanging by a thread at one stage. They needed a play-off victory against Syria in order to secure their place here and they’ve been drawn in a tough group. Ange Postecoglu left shortly after guiding them to Russia and the new man in the hotseat is Bert Van Marwijk. They are ranked 36th in the FIFA rankings and have had trouble with their defence during previous tournaments. They could find this group a little too tough but this tournament will provide one last chance for Tim Cahill to impress on the International stage.
The price of 5/6 on offer for Australia to finish bottom of Group C looks one of the best bets of the tournament.
Group D Odds
Argentina almost didn’t make it to this tournament with Jorge Sampaoli’s side struggling for consistency during the qualifying process. Luckily, they have Lionel Messi, who was on hand to save his nation from embarrassment. The mercurial Barcelona frontman is likely to be very popular in the top goalscorer betting and is around 10/1 to outscore his peers. Messi will be joined by Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and Mauro Icardi. They are capable of pulling any side apart of their day and progressed to the final in 2014 where they were defeated by Germany. The South American side will be looking to go one better this time around and are currently ranked 4th in the world.
Argentina are 7/2 to reach the final once again and that could be tempting. They are 8/15 to finish top of Group D which seems a given but backing Lionel Messi to make amends for an underwhelming 2014 World Cup in the Top Goalscorers market could be the best way to play.
The Super Eagles qualified for the 2018 World Cup thanks to an Alex Iwobi strike and possess an interesting mix of youth and experience. They are seen as relative outsiders in the tournament but are probably viewed as the strongest African representative. Gernot Rohr is in charge and has been making decent progress. Victor Moses has enjoyed a profitable spell at Chelsea when fitness has permitted and is joined by former Blues midfielder Jon Obi-Mikel who is an experienced head at this level. They are the outsiders to progress from the group.
Group D is arguably the toughest section and its an unfortunate draw for Nigeria. They 11/10 available on the Super Eagles to prop up the group is terrific value.
Iceland made a name for themselves at Euro 2016 with a superb run which including progressing to the knock-out stages and beating England. Heimir Hallgimsson’s side may still be a little underrated here and qualified with aplomb. They are seen as joint outsiders with Nigeria in Group D but they could finish above Croatia. Gylfi Sigurdsson is their star-performer but there is a certain togetherness and team spirit which makes every single player a vital cog in the machine. They don’t have much World Cup experience but be prepared for them to surprise once again.
It is 9/4 for Iceland to qualify from Group D and that is an outstanding bet. They have to usurp Croatia but they are perfectly capable of such a feat.
Croatia are ranked 15th in the latest FIFA standings and are generally always seen as a ‘dark horse’ for each and every International tournament. They have potential with a number of star players such as Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic but have never reached the dizzy heights expected. Zlatko Dalic is the man tasked with putting all the pieces together and trying to guide Croatia to the latter stages of the event. They finished two points behind Iceland during the qualification round and didn’t impress in matches against lower opposition.
Croatia are 4/7 to qualify from Group D but that is far too short. For those looking for an ambitious punt, take 5/1 on Croatia underperforming and finishing bottom of the group.
Group E Odds
Tite has completely turned Brazil around and they now look the real deal. After being humiliated in 2014, they will be desperate to bounce back in Russia. They sailed through qualifying and have a number of very talented players although Neymar is likely to attract the majority of the attention and headlines. Tite won 13 of his first 17 games in charge and although they took their foot off the pedal towards the end, they still have the class to progress to the latter stages of the competition. They are considered second favourites in the outright betting and they are overwhelming favourites to progress from Group E. They will be expected to take maximum points from their three games. Germany have usurped them in the FIFA rankings and they will be desperate to prove a point here.
Brazil are 5/2 to reach the final and that is a very tempting proposition. They are 1/4 to qualify for the round of 16 and although this is a short price, it’s ideal for placing into a group stage accumulator.
Switzerland needed a play-off to secure their place at the 2018 World Cup and are considered worthy second favourites in Group E. Many are expecting Vladimir Petkovic’s side to follow the South Americans into the knock-out rounds and they do have a number of talented players in their squad. Stephan Lichtsteiner provides stability and experience whilst Xherdan Shaqiri is capable of anything if he puts his mind to it. Switzerland are the kind of team who regularly reach the last eight but fail to progress beyond that point. They are 8th in the FIFA rankings but could be handed a difficult draw in the last 16 if finishing behind Brazil.
Switzerland are 6/1 to finish top of Group E but it’s hard to envisage where Brazil will slip up. 5/6 looks a better option here but they will have to be wary of a lively Serbia side
Serbia are up to 34th in the FIFA rankings and are considered to be a nation who are on the up. They have had a number of problems in the past including the dispute over the selection of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. He may feature here. Branislav Ivanovic is an experienced head who will bring some calm to proceedings. Mladen Krstajic is in charge following a caretaker spell but he’s not been handed an easy task here. They are considered third favourites in this group but they will be looking to make a mockery of that rating and could be lively outsiders.
Serbia are 6/4 to qualify from Group E and for those who aren’t convinced about Switzerland’s chances, they look a magnificent bet. They are also priced at 7/1 to reach the quarter-finals.
Costa Rica made a name for themselves at the 2010 World Cup and will be aiming to repeat those heroics. They were drawn alongside Italy, England and Uruguay last time out and things don’t get much easier for Oscar Ramirez here. They are ranked 25th in the world, above a number of teams who failed to qualify for the tournament and shouldn’t be completely written off. Marco Urena is a natural talent and is the player to watch in this side. Keylor Navas is an experienced keeper and should be able to organise his back-line.
Costa Rica are unlikely to disgrace themselves but it’s hard to see who they will beat in Group E. 10/11 for them to finish bottom of the group is the prediction.
Group F Odds
Germany are the holders and are considered favourites for the tournament. Very little has changed since they appeared at the World Cup 2014 with eight of that side expected to be mainstays in Russia. Joachim Low has a great record at major tournaments and they warmed up with a win in the 2017 Confederations Cup. They are top of the FIFA rankings and it’s difficult to see who will stop them in Group F. The experience Thomas Muller will be present once again with Toni Kroos likely to ooze class in the centre of the park. Leon Goretzka and Timo Werner are relative unknowns on the world stage but look more than comfortable in this side.
It’s 1/3 that Germany finish top of Group F and could be accumulator material. Only Sweden may provide a threat here. It’s 9/4 for Joachim Low’s side to reach the final once again.
Janne Andersson has managed to whip his side into shape and they have put in a number of workmanlike performances under his guidance. The Swedes look lively outsiders in this group after dumping Italy out in the play-offs. They could surprise at this tournament and have an exciting new generation of players. Veteran Marcus Berg always provides a threat and Emil Forsberg will be dangerous throughout. He is likely to face some his team-mates when Sweden play Germany. Sweden should not be underestimated and although they are only ranked 19th, they could run the holders close.
11/10 for Sweden to qualify from Group F is a standout bet and a small play on them to reach the quarter-finals at 11/2 doesn’t seem overly outlandish.
Mexico are renowned for their attacking performances and gung-ho style approach but it doesn’t always suit them well in these major competitions. Juan Carlos Osorio eased his side through the qualification process although the level of opposition was questionable. Diego Reyes has helped steady the ship at the back and they have looked better but fell at the hands of Germany in the Confederations Cup and appear unlikely to reverse that form here in Russia. Mexico are rated 17th in the FIFA rankings, just behind England and will be fancied to progress to the next round here but could find it difficult with Sweden also in the section.
Mexico are 11/10 to qualify from Group F but our prediction is that they’ll fall short on this occasions.
Korea are rated as one of the unlikeliest sides to make the knock-out round of the competition and weren’t exactly convincing during qualifying. Confidence isn’t high amongst the supporters and Shin Tae-Yong has a big job on his hands in this competitive looking group. They do have a decent history in the competition and possess players such as Swansea’s Ki-Sung-Yeung and Leicester’s Shinji Okazaki (although he’s fallen down the pecking order recently). They are considered outsiders in this group and there is very little evidence to suggest otherwise.
South Korea are 4/5 to finish bottom of Group F and although the odds-on price won’t suit everybody, it fits the bill.
Group G Odds
Gareth Southgate’s England have a habit of falling short in this competition but there are plenty of positives to take from their qualifying campaign. Harry Kane is likely to be the standout player and has been chalked up at prominent price in the top goalscorer market. The Three Lions are much younger this time around and that should bode well in their quest to finish top of Group G. They’ve been drawn alongside Belgium, Panama and Tunisia and their fans will expect to see their side at least qualify for the quarter-finals. They had a disastrous 2010 tournament and will need to bounce back in style here.
England are 1/7 to qualify from the group and 6/5 to finish top. The latter is advised. Although a little on the short side, the 8/11 on them to qualify for the quarter-finals is fair enough.
For a number of years, Belgium have been regarded as the ‘next big thing’ but have failed to deliver on the International stage. They are still rated quite highly by the bookmakers but the hype has died down and that will probably help their cause. Roberto Martinez’s side could be better off slightly under the radar. They do look well-equipped for a decent push and they still sit 5th in the FIFA rankings. They have an enormous pool of talent which includes Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku, the latter is fancied as a dark horse in the top goalscorer market. They will have to compete with England for top spot in Group G but should sail through to the final 16 with very few problems.
Belgium are 10/11 to finish top of the group but they don’t always make it easy for themselves and Roberto Martinez’s sides always struggle at the back. Try an England/Belgium straight forecast at 2/1.
Tunisia have been handed a tough draw alongside Belgium and England and very little is expected of them at this tournament. They will be aiming not to finish bottom of the group and they have shown some flashes during qualification. They sit 23rd in the FIFA rankings and have enjoyed life under Nabil Malooul. Youssef Msakni is probably the standout talent in the squad and is likely to attract some attention if he puts in one his usual performances against Group G opposition. They do have the ability to trouble England and Belgium but the fact they did just enough in order to secure their place here suggests they won’t progress beyond this stage.
Tunisia are priced at 7/2 to qualify for the next stage which is unlikely. They look set to finish third in Group G.
There were jubilant scenes as Panama secured their place in Russia with the government declaring a bank holiday to celebrate their momentous achievement. They were drawn in tough looking Group G but after unexpectedly qualifying, they will fancy their chances of causing a stir. They are 53rd in the FIFA rankings and are led by Hernan Dario Gomez who has been elevated to hero status in Panama. MLS fans will be familiar with some of the players and Roman Torres is the leader at the back. He is likely to lead a no-nonsense back-line which could be hard to breach.
Panama are 4/6 to finish bottom of Group G and that doesn’t look a bad price considering their inexperience at this level.
Group H Odds
Former Polish International Adam Nawalka guides his side to the 2018 World Cup and they’ve been dealt a kind draw in Group H. Impressively, Poland are 7th in the FIFA standings and they will face Colombia, Senegal and Japan in their section. They had very few problems qualifying for the tournament and will be expected to finish on top here. Robert Lewandowski is the key man and comes off the back of another superb season at Bayern Munich. He netted 16 times during qualifying and he is a decent prospect for the top goalscorer at the tournament. They don’t qualify for many World Cups but they are hoping to make a serious impact here and will be expected to make it to the latter stages.
Poland start as second favourites in the group winner market and are available at 6/4. Also have a look at Lewandowki as an each-way selection in the top goalscorer market.
Colombia enjoyed a profitable 2014 World Cup with James Rodriguez pulling the strings throughout the tournament. He finds himself at Bayern Munich and will once again be pivotal to Colombia’s chances. They enjoyed a solid enough qualification campaign under Jose Pekerman and will be hoping to surprise a few teams along the way. They sit 13th in the FIFA rankings and have been vying for favouritism with Poland in Group H. They will need Radamel Falcao to be at his best if they are to progress beyond the last 16.
Colombia are 4/11 to qualify from the group and 11/8 to finish top. They could find Poland too good going forward.
Japan are led by veteran Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic who will be hoping his side can make a splash on the International scene following a turbulent few years. They have been drawn in a group which could allow them to progress to the last 16 but they will need to be at their best throughout. They played on the counter attack throughout their qualifying campaign but probably weren’t tested enough and it’ll be interesting to see how they cope with the likes of Radamel Falcao and Robert Lewandowski. Japan are 55th in the FIFA rankings but this is a competitive group and a single point could separate all four teams on June 28th.
Japan are 8/1 to finish top of their group which is perhaps a touch unrealistic. They are likely to finish third but it’s a competitive and slightly unpredictable section.
Senegal are led by Aliou Cisse and will have been pleased to find themselves in Group H. It may be competitive but there are some winnable games for the popular African side. They will be remembered fondly for their exploits at the 2002 tournament but they haven’t reached those levels since. Sadio Mane comes off the back of a fantastic season at Anfield and is a joy to watch, he could trouble the opposition here. They were tough to beat in qualifying and although many are expecting them to finish rock-bottom of Group H, they are likely to spring a few surprises along the way.
5/4 on Senegal is very interesting indeed and looks like a decent shout in a hugely competitive and closely-fought group. They could realistically sneak second if Mane is at his best.