The groups stage is over – results and knock out stage

The 2018 World Cup is fast approaching and BettingTop10 has all you need to know about the greatest footballing show on earth.

Brazil, France and Spain were dominant during qualification for the tournament, but can they repeat their form during the group stage in Russia?

We look at each group and predict the outcomes based on the World Cup odds from all the leading bookmakers. Punters in the UK who want to get in on the action can check out our tournament guides for all the latest information.

Group A

Uruguay are the favourites to win Group A after finishing second behind Brazil in the South American qualifiers. Luis Suarez is one to watch up front and he’ll be the key if Uruguay are to progress to the later stages of the World Cup.

Hosts Russia were poor at European Championships in 2016 and the nation will expect much better performances on home soil. They failed to reach the round of 16 at Brazil 2014, but fervent home support could see them make it out of the group alongside Uruguay.

Egypt haven’t qualified for the World Cup since 1990. They were runners-up at the 2017 Africa Cup and could surprise a few teams in this group. Mohamed Salah is undoubtedly their star man after enjoying a stellar season in the Premier League with Liverpool.

Saudi Arabia have failed to win a match in their last three World Cup appearances and it’s difficult to imagine that changing in Russia. They finished second behind Japan in the qualifiers, but they look banker material to finish bottom of this group.

Group B

Spain are strongly fancied in the World Cup winner market and they should comfortably qualify from this group. They dropped just two points conceded only three goals to finish well ahead of Italy during qualifying. A recent 6-1 friendly victory over Argentina will have further boosted their confidence and Spain are one of the easiest group qualification tips to make.

Portugal failed to reach the round of 16 in 2014, but the current European Champions should progress this time alongside Spain. Cristiano Ronaldo is their danger man, although he has only scored three goals at the World Cup finals. Despite that record he is prominent in the top goalscorer market.

Morocco are appearing at the World Cup finals for the first time since 1998. They could get their group campaign off to a winning start against Iran, although Spain and Portugal are expected to prove too classy in their remaining games.

Iran topped their qualification group without losing a game, but they have won just one out of 12 matches at the World Cup finals and appear out of their depth in this group.

Group C

This group has the potential to be one of the most difficult World Cup group qualifier predictions to forecast. France should win the group, although their performances at the finals in 2002 and 2010 when they were knocked out in the first round highlight the unpredictability of football.

Denmark booked their place in Russia after beating the Republic of Ireland in the play-offs. Their best performance at the finals came at France 1998 when they reached the quarter-finals and their odds in the group qualification market this summer suggests they can join Les Bleus in the next round.

Peru are back in the finals for the first time since 1982 after edging past New Zealand in the play-offs. They are capable of taking points off both Denmark and Australia, but France’s array of attacking talent should prove too hot to handle.

Australia is the outsider in Group C and they are likely to be heading home after the opening stage. They dominated qualification with 14 wins in 22 matches, but their recent 4-1 friendly loss against Norway was poor.

Group D

Another group that is potentially a difficult World Cup group qualifier prediction to make, although Argentina are fancied to claim top spot. Lionel Messi is one of the favourites for the top goalscorer award and he will be hoping to inspire his team to glory this summer.

Croatia are tipped to take second place in Group D. They haven’t made it past the group stages since 1998, but they are strong defensively and in midfield. Nigeria and Iceland won’t be pushovers, but Croatia should make it through alongside Argentina.

Iceland were the surprise package at Euro 2016, knocking out England on their way to the quarter-finals. They finished ahead of Croatia in their qualifying group and could cause another shock in Russia.

Nigeria reached the last 16 in 2014 and they’ll be eager to upset a few teams in Group D. They played Argentina in a friendly match back in November and won 4-2, so it would be foolish to underestimate their chances of progressing from the group.

Group E

Brazil are hot favourites to be the 2018 World Cup winner. They have won the trophy on five previous occasions and will eager to banish the memories of losing 7-1 to Germany in the 2014 semi-finals. A recent 1-0 friendly victory over the Germans saw their World Cup odds shorten and they should breeze through the first stage.

Switzerland qualified after finishing second in their group behind Portugal. They beat Northern Ireland in the play-offs and are a strong contender to qualify with Brazil from Group E. The Swiss reached the last 16 in 2014.

Serbia are the third favourites in this group, but their recent 2-0 friendly win over Nigeria suggest they could be dangerous. They finished ahead of Republic of Ireland in qualifying and the fact they don’t face Brazil until their final match could work in their favour.

Costa Rica surprisingly reached the quarter-finals in 2014 before losing against Netherlands in a penalty shoot-out. They beat both Uruguay and Italy in the group stages, but bookmakers are tipping them to finish bottom of this group.

Group F

Most World Cup group qualifying predictions made by pundits are tipping Sweden to dominate their rivals in the opening stage. The reigning champions scored 43 goals during the qualifiers, although their recent friendly defeat against Brazil proved they are not unbeatable.

Sweden return to the finals after a 12-year gap and are the second favourites in this group. They impressively finished above Netherlands in the qualifiers, before beating Italy 1-0 on aggregate in the play-offs. Sweden were the only team to defeat France during the qualifiers and they should reach the next round in Russia.

Mexico have progressed out of their group in their last six World Cup appearances. They easily topped the CONCACAF qualifying group, losing once against Honduras. They have beaten Sweden just once in four previous meetings and that game is likely to determine who claims second spot behind Brazil.

Korea Republic are competing in their ninth World Cup in a row, but they are expected to struggle against the other teams in this group. They finished a distant second behind Iran during qualifying and look set for an early exit from the finals.

Group G

Belgium and England are strong World Cup group qualifying predictions, with Tunisia and Panama both expected to struggle against the two European sides.

The Belgians reached the quarter-finals in 2014 and they went undefeated during qualification for this summer’s tournament. Their squad is packed with quality and the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard will cause teams plenty of problems in Russia.

England endured a miserable campaign in 2014, exiting the tournament at the group stage, but they qualified with ease for the latest edition of the World Cup. Recent friendly draws against Germany and Brazil were a confidence-booster and England look a good bet to progress alongside Belgium.

Tunisia are third favourites in this group and friendly victories over Iran and Costa Rica means they head into the World Cup in a buoyant mood. They should be confident of beating surprise qualifiers Panama, but both nations are expected to be knocked out in the first stage.

Group H

Colombia are the favourites in Group H, just ahead of Poland. They reached the quarter-finals in Brazil 2014, with James Rodriguez claiming the Golden Boot with six goals. They qualified for Russia ahead of Peru and Chile and should finish in the top two in this group.

Poland haven’t played in the finals since 2006, but with Robert Lewandowski leading the line they are expected to reach the knockout stages in Russia. The 29-year-old scored 16 goals in the qualifiers – more than any other player in the world.

Senegal have only qualified for the World Cup once before and they managed to reach the quarter-finals. They were unbeaten during qualifying for this tournament and have the ability to spring a surprise in the first stage this summer.

This will be Japan’s sixth consecutive appearance in the finals, but it’s difficult to see them troubling the other sides in this group. They were beaten 4-1 by Columbia in 2014 and bottom place beckons once again.