World Cup 2018 Group Winners
The World Cup 2018 looks set to be one of the highlights of the sporting year and soccer fans in South Africa are already looking ahead to the tournament which gets underway on June 14th. The 32 teams have been split into eight different groups, which have been labelled A-H and the top two from each of these sections will progress into the knock-out stages. There are a number of different markets available, many of which are already priced up by South African online bookmakers and one of the most popular is ‘Group Winners’. Some sides have been drawn in an incredibly difficult group and progress seems unlikely but the bigger sides such as Brazil and Germany are expected to sail through with very few problems. We take a look at which sides are likely to finish top of their section.
Group A looks one of the toughest groups to predict although Uruguay have been installed as the favourites to cement their place at the summit. They’ve been priced at 2.05 by Net Bet and they should have enough firepower and quality to ease past the remaining three teams. They don’t have a particularly young squad but they are packed full of experience and possess plenty of quality with the likes of Matias Vecino, Edison Cavani and Luis Suarez all likely to play a big part in Russia.
Russia already have a number of injuries to contend with and as hosts, there is a lot of expectation on their shoulders. They have been predicted to finish second in the group although they aren’t much bigger in the betting market at 2.20. They should be much more organised than at Euro 2016 but they lack the quality to compete with Uruguay.
Egypt are many people’s dark horses to progress and although they’ve been given a very small chance of topping this particular section, they will have their eye on that precious second place in Group A. They have the quality of Mo Salah and look extremely well-organised at the back.
Saudi Arabia have been given little chance of topping the group and they look devoid of quality compared to their counterparts in this section
Spain are a vastly experienced side and are widely expected to finish top of Group B despite the presence of Portugal. You should never read too much into friendlies but they swept aside Argentina at the end of March and the 2010 champions look an extremely cohesive and effective unit. They play as a team and although their back-line isn’t getting any younger, the likes of Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Sergio Ramos have been effective at major tournaments before and they could have a big say in Group B’s outcome. At the other end, they have the likes of David Silva, who is fleet of foot and Isco. They should finish top of this section without any slip-ups.
Portugal are clear second favourites in Group B and Fernando Santos’ side will once again be relying upon the magic of Cristiano Ronaldo. They may be a one-man team but they are also European champions and they shouldn’t be underestimated here. They have plenty of grit and determination and their injuries should have eased by the time the tournament gets underway.
Morocco have been given very little chance of topping Group B. The North African side are likely to make themselves difficult to break down but despite the presence of the excellent Hakim Ziyech, they may lack punch in the final third.
Iran look the unlikeliest side to finish top of Group B and despite being one of the first sides to qualify for the tournament, this is a huge step up and it’s difficult to make a case for them.
Group C is all about France and Les Bleus are expected to finish top of this section. The odds of 1.31 for them to finish above the other three sides suggests that this is a formality and they should easily get the job done. Didier Deschamps’ side are packed full of talented players with a number of stars likely to be left on the bench. They missed out on European glory in 2016 and they are likely to come here more determined than ever before.
This is where Group C gets interesting…whilst France should have few problems wrapping this up, Denmark appear to be their nearest challengers. The Danes, managed by Age Hareide should have plenty of class and will be expected to complete the top two places. Christian Eriksen is a savvy operator and can pull the strings in midfield.
Peru have the potential to be dangerous. The South American side may have been the last side to book their place in Russia but they are likely to come with bags of pace and skill. They have been given little chance of finishing top of the group but could ask plenty of questions during their three matches.
Australia will tell that they aren’t here to make up the numbers but effectively that’s exactly what they’re doing in Group C and have little chance of finishing top.
Argentina have the best chance of finishing top of Group D but it isn’t completely clear-cut. They are priced at 1.58 by Net Bet and many will be confident that the presence of the mercurial Lionel Messi should be enough for them to simply sail through.
Croatia will run them pretty close and have been given a decent chance of finishing top. They certainly have enough quality and experience in their squad and despite his advancing year, Luka Modric remains one of the classiest operator in Europe.
Iceland pose a real danger and although they’ve been given very little chance of making it through, they could be the side to give Argentina and Croatia a scare or two. They were underrated at Euro 2016 and could surprise once again although finishing second in Group D is a more realistic aim.
Nigeria should be pretty handy but they’ve been drawn in a fiendishly difficult group and their chances of finishing are represented by their odds of 14.75.
Brazil to finish top of Group E looks one of the safest bets of the 2018 World Cup and Tite’s men should show their class here. They are expected to progress to the latter stages of the competition and are predicted to easily see of the challenge of Serbia and Switzerland. There is quality all over the field and the likes of Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Phillipe Coutinho are likely to impress in Russia.
Switzerland are probably resigned to second place in the group. Vladimir Petkovic’s men are a solid outfit but they aren’t predicted to lay a glove on Brazil and a potentially difficult draw in the round of 16 awaits if they make it through.
Serbia are dark horses and have been talked up by many pundits ahead of the tournament. They have been dealt a difficult draw and they aren’t expected to top the group but they could give Brazil plenty of think about. At 8.25 to finish top, it’s probably better to simply back them to qualify.
It’s difficult to know what to make of Costa Rica. They surprised everyone at World Cup 2014 but they are less of an unknown quantity this time around. They have quality in the shape of Kaylor Navas but this is a tricky old group and they aren’t expected to finish in the top two.
Germany to finish top of the group looks one of the best bets of the tournament although prohibitive odds of 1.38 are available. Joachim Low’s side have actually been dealt a decent draw and shouldn’t find the other three teams overly challenging. They finished three points clear in 2014 with Portugal and the USA in their group and it’s unlikely that they will trip up here.
Sweden appear to be the only potential challengers to Germany’s quest for top spot. The Scandinavian side knocked Italy out of the play-offs and have shown that they can compete with the top sides. They haven’t been given much chance of finishing top of Group F but they could run Germany close.
Mexico have been given a small chance of finishing top but they are hard to trust and found a weaker Germany side too much during the 2017 Confederations Cup and seem unlikely to challenge.
Korea Republic look one of the weakest teams in the tournament and being drawn in the same group as Germany isn’t going to aid their chance of progression.
Group G looks potentially quite interesting with both Belgium and England competing for top spot. Roberto Martinez’s side have been given the edge due to their embarrassment of riches. They have the likes of Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku in their squad as well as the versatile Dries Mertens. They are priced at 1.80 to come out on top and if they click, they could be unstoppable in Group G.
England have improved in recent years and will be hoping for much than their limp displays at both World Cup 2014 and Euro 2016. Gareth Southgate has some exciting youngsters in the squad and the emergence of Harry Kane is a huge plus in their quest for top spot. They are likely to have to settle for second place here.
Tunisia have been handed a tough task and with both England and Belgium in their group, finishing top would be considered an enormous achievement but it’s hard to see it happening.
Panama were delighted to qualify for the World Cup 2018 and as a result declared a bank holiday. Imagine what will happen if they finish top of Group G? It seems unlikely.
Group H looks extremely competitive and there are three teams who could realistically finish top. Colombia have the best chance following their impressive display four years ago. They still have golden boot winner James Rodriguez in their side and they are marginally fancied to edge out Poland at the top of the standings.
Poland have Robert Lewandowski and his goals could help fire them through to the knock-out round. They are going to have to fight Colombia for top spot and our predictions suggest that Adam Nawalka’s side may just fall short.
Senegal have a history of surprising in this competition and they shouldn’t be completely written off here. The African side have been handed a nice draw and they could possibly cause another shock.
Japan are up against it in this group and there is plenty of work to do. They will need to be at their absolute best if they are to top this wide open section. They may be going home early.