The 21st edition of football’s biggest tournament will kick off in Russia on June 14th 2018. The month-long event will see 32 countries do battle in eight groups of four, with the top two teams from each group going through to the knockout stages.
The eight winners of the round of 16 will progress to the quarterfinals and so on until the last two teams go head to head for the ultimate prize at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on July 15th.
The 2014 edition of the tournament took place in Brazil and was won by Germany. The reigning champions will start as a joint-favourites alongside Brazil (19/4 with 888sport as of February 9th 2018), with Spain and France not far behind at 6/1 and 7/1, respectively, in the outright winner betting market.
Following the global qualification process, the final 32 teams were drawn into eight groups as follows:
- Group A: Russia, Egypt, Uruguay, Saudi Arabia
- Group B: Spain, Portugal, Iran, Morocco
- Group C: France, Denmark, Australia, Peru
- Group D: Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria
- Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
- Group F: Germany, Sweden, Mexico, South Korea
- Group G: Belgium, England, Tunisia, Panama
- Group H: Poland, Colombia, Senegal, Japan
How To Bet On The World Cup
Betting on the World Cup gets underway well before the tournament begins. Markets that are available months before a ball has even been kicked include:
- Outright winner: Name the team that will lift the trophy on July 15th.
- Top goalscorer: Predict which player will top the scoring charts.
- Winner/top scorer double: The two bets above combined into a double.
- Name the finalists: Guess which two teams will contest the final.
- To reach final: Name a team that will at least reach the final.
- To reach quarterfinal: As above but the team only has to feature in the last eight.
- Highest placed team from a certain continent: Select the best Asian, South American, North American, African or European team.
- Group winners: Predict the winner of any of the groups.
- Group dual forecast: Pick the top two (in any order) from any of the groups.
- Group straight forecast: Pick the top two (in the correct order) from any of the groups.
- Winning Group: Name the group that the winning team will come from.
- Winning continent: Predict which continent the winner will come from.
- Nation specials: You can also place bets related to each specific country, such as top scorer or stage of elimination.
You can start betting on these markets right now or you can wait until the tournament begins for an even greater choice. If you have never placed a bet before, you will need to open an 888sport account and deposit some money before you can place a bet.
Top World Cup Betting Tips
Understand the odds
While you may be tempted to start betting immediately, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, the odds may fluctuate up or down before the tournament begins. So, you could get a great price by betting well in advance but you might lose out if the price drifts later on. Or you might find that the price shortens and you got really good value.
There are many reasons why this change in odds might happen. For example, a team that you have backed might lose several top players to injury causing their price to drift.
Or a striker might hit some form in the months leading up to the tournament causing their price to shorten. So, the earlier you bet, the more you risk your prediction being affected by such influential factors.
Understanding the odds, and how and why they move, is vital if you are going to find good value bets. You need to look at the whole picture before committing your hard-earned cash to any wager.
Do Your Homework
And that brings us neatly on to our second top World Cup betting tip. If you are planning on betting on the World Cup and you want to give yourself the best chance of winning, you need to keep an eye on the players.
You need to know who is injured (or coming back from injury), who is in form, who is playing on a regular basis for their club and who has a history of transferring their club form on to the international stage.
When it comes to betting, knowledge can count for a lot. So, study the stats, get to know the players and coaches and look at the groups to try and work out who is likely to prevail.
Is there a Group of Death? Or is there a group that looks particularly easy for one team. With so many markets available, there is a good chance that you will find a wager to suit your knowledge as long as you do your homework.
On more thing that you might want to consider is team mentality. Some teams have a long history of winning at the highest level, almost to the point where it seems coded into their DNA - Germany are probably the best example of this.
On the other hand, some teams always seem to under-perform, unable to cope with the pressure of carrying the hopes of a nation on their shoulders while being watched by a billion or more pairs of eyes.
Spain used to be known as serial under-achievers but managed to shake that tag following their Euro 2008 win, while 17/1 shots England still fall into that category of teams that promise so much yet deliver so little.
World Cup Betting Strategies
There are many strategies you can use to bet on the World Cup and you might discover your won as the tournament gets underway. But as always the secret is to find the best value so that when your bets come in, you maximise your return.
During the group stages, you can try to identify which of the weaker teams has the best chance of sneaking into the top two in the group.
In 2014, Chile pipped Spain to second spot in Group B to send the reigning champions packing, while Costa Rica and Uruguay both progressed from Group D at the expense of England and Italy.
And in Group H, unfancied Algeria pipped Russia and South Korea to second place before taking Germany all the way to extra-time in the knockout phase.
Also bear in mind that once the knockout stages begin, the games can get a lot tighter. In the last tournament, five of the eight Round of 16 matches were level after 90 minutes.
What To Avoid
It may be easier said than done but you really should avoid betting with your heart or on a gut feeling. Only back your own nation or your favourite player if the wager is backed up by solid statistics - England fans may be tempted to bet on Harry Kane to win the Golden Boot for example. And most of all, remember to only wager what you can afford.
World Cup Betting Summary
Betting on the World Cup is not always easy. The best teams often prevail and finding good value bets can require a little bit of effort.
But with so many markets available, including in-play wagers, those that take a little time to do their research can enjoy that winning feeling. Just remember to have fun, after all, the World Cup only comes round once every four years!
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*