We’re now just six months away from the 2018 World Cup and football fans will be eagerly anticipating what could be a wide-open tournament. Brazil, five time winners of the famous Jules Rimet Trophy, are currently favourites at 9/2 in 888sport’s World Cup betting markets but Germany will take some stopping. We’ve previewed each group ahead of next summer’s competition – it may turn out to be a memorable tournament…
GROUP A: Russia, Uruguay, Egypt, Saudi Arabia
Home advantage is huge at any major event but Russia could fall short here. On paper, you could argue that Russia should be favourites here – and with good reason. Uruguay reached the semi-finals in 2010 but a lot has changed since then. Meanwhile, Egypt are improving whilst Saudi Arabia could spring a shock or two.
I like Egypt in this group. Uruguay and Russia are there for the taking whilst Saudi Arabia are a class below their rivals here. With Mohamed Salah in fine form for Liverpool, Egypt could be one of the surprise nations next summer. 21/10 is a very fair price for Egypt to advance to the knockout stages despite their lack of experience at this level.
TIP: Egypt to finish in the top two @ 21/10
GROUP B: Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Iran
Not quite a “group of death” but it is close. A mouth-watering battle between Portugal and Spain for top spot awaits and neutrals will be keeping a watchful eye on both nations ahead of the tournament. It would be foolish to look past the top two in the betting here, neither Iran nor Morocco are capable of advancing to the next round.
It is difficult to look past Spain here. Julen Lopetegui’s side were outstanding throughout the qualifying campaign and the 2010 winners could compete for glory. David Silva, Manchester City’s creative genius, is a 12/1 shot to record the most assists next summer. He could wreak havoc against the likes of Morocco and Iran in the group stages…
TIP: Spain to win the group @ 3/5
GROUP C: France, Denmark, Peru, Australia
Christian Eriksen and Denmark will be quietly confident of advancing to the knockout stages despite being drawn into France’s group. Australia scraped into the competition whilst Peru are relatively inexperienced at this level. On paper, this is not one of the stronger groups and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see France and Denmark advance comfortably.
France fell short against Portugal in the European Championship final on home soil and Les Bleus will be looking to redeem that defeat next summer. Didier Deschamps’ side have the quality to fight for World Cup glory and there are no excuses for France to fail. Denmark are a decent outfit but you’d still fancy France to avoid defeat in Group C.
TIP: France to win the group @ 7/20
GROUP D: Argentina, Croatia, Nigeria, Iceland
I fancy Croatia to do the business next summer. After a solid showing at Euro 2016, Croatia can now push on and go far against the best teams on the planet. Finishing top of Group D would be huge for confidence and it will take a major collapse for Croatia to fall short at the first hurdle. 2/5 to reach the next round is a very tasty price indeed.
Argentina are the most unpredictable team in the competition. Capable of emulating their 2014 World Cup performance by going all the way to the final, Argentina will be confident ahead of the tournament but it may be wise to stay clear in the betting. Lionel Messi and co squeezed through and it may be wise to stick with Croatia.
TIP: Croatia to finish in the top two @ 2/5
GROUP E: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Costa Rica
Most football fans will be viewing this one as a straight up dogfight between Serbia and Switzerland for second spot. Brazil should romp to the knockout round as group winners whilst Costa Rica may struggle to cope with the Russian conditions. Take your pick, backing either side to emerge victorious is difficult.
Anything less than three wins for Brazil will be seen as a failure. On paper, Brazil should be challenging for World Cup glory and it would take a brave man to back against the five-time winners next summer. With Neymar – 8/1 to win the Golden Boot award – in supreme form, anything is possible and he is good enough to lead Brazil out of Group E as clear winners.
TIP: Brazil to win the group @ 1/4
GROUP F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
Sweden, Mexico and South Korea will fight for second spot here – Germany are destined to advance as group winners. Sweden legend Zlatan Ibrahimović could make a shock return to international football ahead of the competition and his inclusion may swing the race in their favour. As it stands though, Mexico probably just about have the edge.
Winning back to back World Cups is no easy feat but Germany have the quality, the strength in depth and the experience to do just that. Joachim Low’s men are on the verge of making history and Germany should cruise through the first stage next summer. None of their three group rivals should pose too many problems.
TIP: Germany to win the group @ 2/5
GROUP G: Belgium, England, Tunisia, Panama
With the greatest of respect to Tunisia and Panama, England couldn’t have hoped for a better draw. Gareth Southgate’s men should be winning two group stage games here and that will be enough to see the Three Lions advance to the next round. Neither Tunisia nor Panama should put up too much resistance.
Having said that, this is still Belgium’s group to lose. With matchwinners in key areas of the field, Roberto Martinez has a talented squad at his disposal and this star-studded Belgium outfit could go far next summer. At 9/10 to win the group, they are well priced considering their efforts at the 2014 edition and England’s woes on the big stage.
TIP: Belgium to win the group @ 9/10
GROUP H: Colombia, Poland, Senegal, Japan
Colombia are fighting it out near the top of the FIFA world rankings but this isn’t going to be a walk in the park for the South American outfit. In what might turn out to be a very tight group, Colombia and Poland probably rank slightly ahead of Senegal and Japan but picking an outright winner is difficult.
A tough group to call. All four nations have their own strengths and weaknesses but Poland may be the team to beat. Winning the group may be a little far but it is difficult to look past the European side. Senegal and Colombia are excellent going forward but Poland’s stability at the back should give them a slight edge.
TIP: Poland to finish in the top two @ 4/9
This eight-fold accumulator is currently priced at 45/1 – our latest World Cup markets are available via this link…
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*