World Cup football group betting

Fifa 2018 Group Betting

There is no bigger sports betting event than the FIFA World Cup finals, which in 2018 will be held in Russia starting in mid-June.

Sportsbooks have been offering many and varied markets on the biggest stand-alone event in world sport since the draw was finalised in Moscow.

Picking the overall winner can be a daunting task but there is value to be found elsewhere, including in the wagering on which team will win each of the eight groups.

Here we analyse each of the eight groups and look at the early markets to try to give the punter a leg-up in their quest for an edge on the bookmakers.

We look at the head-to-head records between the teams.

Given you can also wager early on each individual group match as well as which teams will advance to the second round and beyond, this should be a great insight to help you make some real money on the group stages of Russia 2018.

Group A

Teams: Russia, Uruguay, Egypt, Saudi Arabia

Russia v Saudi Arabia (not played previously)
Not the most exciting World Cup opener ever, with the teams among the lowest-ranked in the tournament. The home crowd and occasion should help Russia over the line.

Egypt v Uruguay (played once, Uruguay won 2-0 in a friendly in 2006)
This match could well decide the group winners and Uruguay are heavily favoured but they must beware Egyptian star Mohamed Salah, who has been superb for his club side Liverpool.

Russia v Egypt (not played previously)
The home side is very short with bookmakers and should win but we will be staying out here or having a small wager on the draw.

Uruguay v Saudi Arabia (played twice for a 3-2 win to Saudi Arabia, and 1-1 draw in 2014)
Uruguay have the greater experience on the big stage and the attacking prowess to triumph here.

Uruguay v Russia (played once for a 1-1 draw in 2012)
Arguably the best match of this group, but the Russians would have to improve sharply on recent form to hold the South Americans.

Saudi Arabia v Egypt (played three times with two wins for Egypt and one for Saudi Arabia, but have not met for 10 years)
Egypt qualified top in Africa and have a few world-class weapons so may prove a little too good here.

What World Gambling List says

At first glance it would appear a straightforward group with Uruguay and Russia expected to breeze through, but we give Egypt a great chance of advancing and even pinching top spot at healthy odds.

Group B

Teams: Portugal, Spain, Iran, Morocco

Morocco v Iran (played once previously for a 1-1 draw in 2002)
Both qualified on the back of near impregnable defences so don’t expect a goalfest in this one.

Portugal v Spain (matches go back almost 100 years; have played 35 times for 16 wins to Spain, 13 draws and six wins for Portugal. Their most recent clash was a 0-0 draw in the 2012 European Championships)
The Iberian derby is the standout match of the group stages and the winner is in pole position to top the group. Portugal won Euro 2016 but we feel Spain are starting to reassert themselves as a major player on the world stage.

Portugal v Morocco (played once in the 1986 World Cup for a 3-1 win to Morocco in the group stages)
A potential banana-skin game for Cristiano Ronaldo’s men but they should rise to the challenge.

Iran v Spain (not played previously)
The Spaniard have too many big guns to let this one slip.

Spain v Morocco (not played previously)
The Moroccans are a solid unit and comfortably ensconced in the top 50 teams in the world but Spain are far closer to the pointy end. They look a class above.

Iran v Portugal (played once, at the 2006 World Cup with a 2-0 win to Portugal, including a penalty to young tyro Cristiano Ronaldo)
The Portuguese could well need a win here to guarantee making the second round and they should oblige.

What World Gambling List says

Cristiano Ronaldo is coming towards the end of his glittering career and Portugal would need a master class from the striker to have serious hopes of matching it with their great rivals. Spain should top the group in style.

Group C

Teams: France, Peru, Denmark, Australia

France v Australia (played four times, with France winning two, Australia one and one draw. The most recent meeting was a 6-0 rout by Les Bleus)
A draw would be an outstanding result for the Australians here, but France have class players all over the park and loom as serious heavyweights at this tournament. A comfortable win for the favourites.

Peru v Denmark (played once in 1997 for a 2-1 win to the Danes)
A contrast in styles and should be a tightly contested affair with no more than a goal separating the teams.

France v Peru (not played previously)
A tricky one for the French, with Peru well used to tackling teams loaded with attacking flair. But Les Bleus should win the day.

Denmark v Australia (played three times with two wins to Denmark and one to Australia)
Expect a dour contest between two ultra-physical teams. Denmark better suited to the conditions but we fancy a draw here.

Denmark v France (played 14 times with France leading the head-to-head 8-5 against the Danes with one draw, with the French winning the past three)
The Danes have a solid record against their more lauded rivals, but they were not great in qualifying and the French have a tremendous deep and talented squad.

Australia v Peru (not played previously)
Hard match to assess and we will be watching this one with great interest rather than investing too much of our bankroll.

What World Gambling List says

This is quite a tough group, with the French, Danes and Peruvians all high in the FIFA rankings. Australia will struggle to find a win so we think it’s France easily on top and Peru to scrape through second.

Group D

Teams: Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria

Argentina v Iceland (not played previously)
Iceland ride a wave of emotion into this tournament but the fairytale might stall here against a sleeping giant of world football.

Croatia v Nigeria (not played previously)
A tough one to call, but it should be all action. Croatia are a seasoned line-up and that will stand them in good stead in this group.

Argentina v Croatia (played three times with two wins to Argentina, including in the 1998 World Cup, and one to Croatia)
So much will depend on whether Lionel Messi’s Argentina can rise to the challenge, but we won’t be taking the early short price about them for this match.

Nigeria v Iceland (not played previously)
We think the Super Eagles can surprise here with their up-tempo game proving hard for the newcomers to handle.

Nigeria v Argentina (played eight times, and Argentina lead the head to head 5-2 with one draw, but on their most recent meeting the Africans ran riots in a 4-2 win in Krasnodar Stadium in Russia in 2017)
Again a tough one to call and be surprised if there is a blowout result in this match. The magic of Messi can help the Albiceleste to a tense victory.

Iceland v Croatia (played six times with four wins to Croatia, one draw and the 1-0 win in a WC qualifier in 2017 for the Icelanders)
Rematch from their European qualifying when the minnows came top of the group to advance directly. Croatia may have enough tricks up their sleeve to win this one.

What World Gambling List says

Arguably the toughest group to predict, but we always so don’t bet against a champion so Argentina and Messi to advance and Nigeria to surprise by joining them in the second round.

Group E

Teams: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia

Costa Rica v Serbia (not played previously)
A fascinating match-up. Costa Rica have grown in stature after their World Cup run in 2014 and no reason they can’t continue that here.

Brazil v Switzerland (played three times for a win each and a draw. The Swiss won the most recent clash 1-0 through a Dani Alves own goal)
The Swiss as always are tough to break down but there is a real sense of purpose about this Brazil team. If they can get through this one without a hiccup, they should top the group.

Brazil v Costa Rica (played 10 times for nine wins to Brazil and one to Costa Rica, in 1960)
Too many big guns for the Samba Kings here.

Serbia v Switzerland (not played previously)
Pivotal match which could well decide which European team can sneak through. Bookies say the Swiss slightly favoured and we would agree with that.

Serbia v Brazil (played once for a 1-0 win in a 2014 friendly to Brazil)
If a point from this match will be enough for the Serbians to advance, they will be a tough nut to crack.

Switzerland v Costa Rica (played twice with one win apiece)
The Swiss were rock solid in qualifying and should be able to get the job done here,

What World Gambling List says

Brazil then daylight, with the Swiss in good shape to join them in the next round.

Group F

Teams: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, Korea Republic

Germany v Mexico (played three times for three German wins including a 4-1 thrashing in the Confederations Cup in 2017)
Mexico play with great flair at times but they have never looked like being able to the match the precision of the Germans. Germany by a couple of goals.

Sweden v South Korea (played twice with both matches ending in draws)
As in their previous meetings, not a lot separates these sides. Sweden come in on a high after breaking Italian hearts in a play-off and are always tough to score against.

Germany v Sweden (played seven times with five wins for Germany and two draws, including an incredible 4-4 draw in a World Cup qualifier in 2012 when Sweden came from 4-0 down. Their latest clash was 5-3 to the Germans)
Stick with the Germans to continue their extraordinary record of quality at World Cup finals and book their place early with a win here.

South Korea v Mexico (played 11 times with the Mexicans dominating with seven wins, two draws and two wins for the Koreans)
A tough one to predict but expect plenty of attacking play and quite a few goals in this one.

South Korea v Germany (played three times with two wins for Germany and one for South Korea)
Hold fire on investing on this game as the Germans may be already qualified and the South Koreans will be playing for survival.

Mexico v Sweden (played three times with two wins for Sweden and one draw)
The Swedish defence that shut down Italy should be too much for the Mexicans to overcome here.

What World Gambling List says

Germany to advance with flying colours here and the Swedes to join them by qualifying second in the group.

Group G

Teams: Belgium, England, Tunisia, Panama

Belgium v Panama (not played previously)
The Europeans are ranked in the top half dozen and should be able to negotiate this early challenge against one of the rank outsiders.

Tunisia v England (played once with a 2-0 win for England in the 1998 World Cup finals)
The pressure will be stacked on the English to win comfortably here and they have not always responded well to that in the past. Nevertheless they should be too good.

Belgium v Tunisia (played three times for a win each and one draw)
A comfortable win for Roberto Martinez’s Belgian team.

England v Panama (not played previously)
England have vastly more experience on the big stage.

England v Belgium (played 20 times and it’s not good for Belgium, who have a single win against England … and that came in 1936. England have won 15, with four draws)
One of the standout matches of the group stages. It is time for this golden generation of Belgians to stand up and be counted. We think they can and will here in a virtual Premier League shootout.

Panama v Tunisia (not played previously)
A chance for a couple of the minnows to score a World Cup finals win but too tough to call.

What World Gambling List says

A race in two and we fancy Belgium to top the group. Cue meltdowns in the English tabloids if they can only finish second.

Group H

Teams: Poland, Colombia, Senegal, Japan

Poland v Senegal (not played previously)
A real contrast of styles and both teams were impressive in their qualifying efforts. Wary of launching into Poland, even with superstar goal-scorer Robert Lewandowski leading the line.

Colombia v Japan (played three times for two wins to Colombia and one draw, including a 4-1 win to Colombia in the 2014 World Cup finals)
An interesting clash in an interesting group. The South Americans must be favoured but Japan are steadily improving in recent years and won’t die wondering.

Japan v Senegal (played twice and Senegal won both in the early 2000s)
So many unknowns in this clash to make a confident prediction. But we expect the goals will flow in an up-tempo clash as both teams will believe this a great chance for three points.

Poland v Colombia (played once, in 2006, for a 2-1 win to the South Americans)
Bayern Munich teammates Lewandowski and James Rodriguez lead the respective teams. The Colombians had a great run in 2014 and a win here could provide the impetus for them to do it again in Russia.

Japan v Poland (played twice with Japan winning both, in 1996 and 2002, scoring seven goals)
The Poles will have their hands full here, and must shake a recent history of underperformance to take this opportunity.

Senegal v Colombia (played twice in recent years with a win for Colombia and a 2-2 draw in 2014)
James Rodriguez is just one of a pretty useful arsenal for the South Americans and they should be able to withstand a spirited challenge.

What World Gambling List says

A wonderfully diverse group with teams from South America, Asia, Africa and Europe and many contrasting styles. Up with the hardest groups to pick but we will back Colombia and Senegal to advance in second spot.