A Closer Look At Groups A, B, C and D plus today’s games

This article was first published to the Ultimate Stats Betting Pack, World Cup group
A copy of the Ultimate Stats Betting Pack for the 2018 World Cup in Russia available here.

Latest World Cup News

It was a busy day on the friendly front with Germany winning their first match in six with a slender 2-1 win against Saudi Arabia. Croatia edged Senegal 2-1while, Switzerland had a comfortable home win against Japan, who are really not in great form coming in to the World Cup. Iran beat Lithuania one nil and Uruguay ran out comfortable winners, 3-0, against Uzebistan. Lastly Poland played out an entertaining 2-2 draw against Chile, who were missing Sanchez and Vidal.

On the topic of Croatia, it's a side I really like and they certainly have the potential to go well. But there is a rather big black cloud hanging over them which is a concern. There is division between the players and the fans, and potentially between the players too with the fallout of the corruption charge against Zdravko Mamic, among others, with the likes of Modric and Lovren both facing serious charges and possible jail terms, for perjury. It's hard to think that this won't have some sort of effect on the players, particularly in such closed environment like tournament football. Time will tell but as punters we need to be looking for signs that all may not be well in the camp before making on bets on the Croats during the tournament.

World Cup Betting Strategy

Group A – Uruguay, Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia

In our ranking analysis the other day, with thanks to Pinnacle, we were able to identify that Group A was effectively the “Group of Life”, meaning it offered the best chance, of any of the groups, for a low ranked side to progress to the knock-out stages. Put another way, Russia and Saudi Arabia are the two lowest ranked, by FIFA, sides in the competition. While this is Egypt's first visit to the big stage since 1990, Salah or no Salah, they will have to perform to their maximum to get out of this group.

Uruguay then, are justifiably the Group favourites and may still present some value around 1.90 to top the group. The side still contains the core of the team which has done so well over the last 5-8 years with the likes of Cavani, Suarez and Godin, but long-standing manager Taberez has been able to refresh the team with a new generation of midfielders which could see Uruguay being a bit more open and creative that what we are traditionally used to seeing.

For me, Russia look the most exposed here and anything but a win against Saudi Arabia in the first match of the tournament could spell big trouble for the hosts from the get go. A Uruguay / Egypt 1-2 may present value and you'll get a good run out of the bet in the first couple of weeks if nothing else.

Group B – Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Iran

It's hard to see past Spain and Portugal qualifying from this group but Portugal will be the most exposed out of the two. The reigning European Champions are not of the same vintage of Spain (circa 2008-14) and the 2016 win was the peak, rather than a springboard to them winning the World Cup. They'll get out of the group, but I don't see them going further than the quarter finals.

Out of the two, Morocco are the most likely to cause the front two problems and I'd probably look at the match markets for their first game against Iran, rather than take a punt on the ‘who will finish bottom' market.

Play the games rather than the group bets here.

Group C – France, Denmark, Peru, Australia

We have three sides in FIFA's top 12 rankings, plus Australia. That said, this is the official FIFA rankings, so we have to take that with a pinch of salt all the same.

France should get through this group but they certainly won't have it all their own way. Value bet alert: Back France to finish 2nd at 4.75 with William Hill.

Despite their 4-0 win recently against the Czech's, this is not a vintage Australia side and they are going to struggle for goals. There is still value in them finishing bottom of this at 1.90-1.95.

It's a then a toss up between the Danes and Peruvians for who will accompany France in to the knock-outs. They face off in the opening match of this group and I'll be watching with interest.

Group D – Argentina, Croatia, Nigeria, Iceland

Like France in Group C, this is one of those groups that, although it is almost certain that they will qualify, if they don't approach it right from the beginning could see them giving up 1st place and a smoother draw in the knock-out stages.

This might come back to bite me, but I'd put a strike through Iceland as I don't see lightening striking twice and expect them to valiantly finish bottom. Croatia are the most likely side to join Argentina in the next round and should be respected. But I'm also a fan of Nigeria, they are a solid team which for once, is a team without all the controversies, strike threats, and distraction of previous generations. If they get a good start they could prove to be a surprise package in the tournament.

Today's Pre-World Cup International Friendlies

Australia pulled off something of a minor shock with a 4-0 victory over the Czech Republic last week and now face another European opponent as they travel to Hungary. Hungary have lost nine of their last thirteen games, of which eight have been at home, it looks like another moral boosting opportunity for Van Merwijk's men.
Morocco come into their match with Estonia protecting an impressive 17-match unbeaten run, having defeated Slovakia 2-1 earlier this week. A key figure in Morocco's success has been their striker Ayoub El Kaabi, who has scored eleven goals in nine games for his country. Estonia are pretty hard to beat at home, and won 3-0 against Croatia back in March. Morocco may not have this all their own way and the odds look a little skinny to me.
France have now won their last three games, after beating Italy 3-1 last week. As they prepare to take on the USA today, goals look a likely outcome, since qualifying for the World Cup the French have scored at least two goals in each of their six friendlies.

Some have highlighted Serbia as one of the potential surprise packages at the World Cup, and it is generally an opinion I support. That said, their recent form has been sketchy at best. They should dispatch a pretty poor Bolivia side tonight but the odds are too short, and Serbia to inconsistent, to make it a betting consideration.

The last three games of interest today all involve matches with both teams heading to the World Cup:

Sweden v Peru, the Swedes are at home and favourites but I would discount an on-form Peru side here. Could be some value in backing against a Swedish win.

Denmark v Mexico, both sides who will be hoping to surprise a few people but I'd expect a draw and few goals in this one today.

Spain v Tunisia, the African's are in some pretty decent form themselves going into this and I'd expect them to at least get on the score sheet today, even if Spain do eventually run out winners.

This article was first published to the Ultimate Stats Betting Pack, World Cup group
A copy of the Ultimate Stats Betting Pack for the 2018 World Cup in Russia available here.


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