World Cup group stage preview13th Jun 2018 |
Peru vs Denmark (Group C)
With France widely expected to finish on top of Group C, the winner of Peru’s meeting with Denmark could go along way to determining who joins Les Bleus in the knockout phase. Los Incas have not qualified for a World Cup since 1972 and required a slice of good fortune to make it to Russia, with a defeat by Bolivia turned into a victory after their opponents were found guilty of fielding an ineligible player as a late substitute. They have been in fine form in the last few months, though, and will hold no fear against a Denmark team who are heavily reliant on Christian Eriksen for inspiration in the final third. Given that both teams need to win, goals could be on the cards – consider backing Peru and Denmark to find the net at 19/20.
Argentina vs Iceland (Group D)
Argentina may have the world’s best player on their side, but optimism is in short supply ahead of this World Cup. There is no doubting Lionel Messi’s genius, but the two-time champions are astonishingly reliant on their star man, so much so that they almost certainly would not have even qualified for Russia without him. Question marks in defence and midfield have still not been solved by manager Jorge Sampaoli, and Iceland’s discipline and organisation could cause them problems in attack too. Having said that, Argentina possess terrific firepower in forward areas and should be good enough to defeat the debutants, so a win to nil could be wise at 17/20.
Croatia vs Nigeria (Group D)
Croatia are favourites to finish second in Group D, but a youthful and vibrant Nigeria side are capable of causing an upset on Saturday night. In Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Ivan Rakitic the Vatreni possess one of the strongest midfields in the competition, but there are concerns that off-field issues – Modric and Dejan Lovren are unpopular with many supporters – could halt their progress in Russia. Nigeria, meanwhile, have plenty of speed in attacking areas and also look well stocked in midfield, but teenage goalkeeper Francis Uzoho is inexperienced at this level. With all that in mind, over 3.5 goals looks like excellent value at 61/20.
Costa Rica vs Serbia (Group E)
Costa Rica were the underdog success story of the 2014 World Cup, topping the so-called group of death ahead of Italy, Uruguay and England before advancing to the quarter-finals for the first time in their history at the expense of Greece. It is hard to see them matching that accomplishment this time around, though, with the same core of players set to be relied upon despite being four years older and, in many cases, lacking form or fitness. Serbia arrive with a little more positivity, with a strong midfield likely to be key to their chances of a successful summer. Back the European nation to emerge victorious at a price of 17/20.
Brazil vs Switzerland (Group E)
Brazil are the outright favourites to win the 2018 World Cup as they seek to bounce back from the horror show that was 2014 on home soil. The Selecao certainly look in much better shape heading into this tournament, thanks largely to the work of Tite over the last two years; having stalled and arguably gone even further backwards under Dunga, the current coach has installed a pleasing possession-based style of play which is effective as well as aesthetic. Switzerland will set out to frustrate Brazil here and that could result in a low-scoring encounter, so I would advise putting some money on a triumph for Tite’s side in a game featuring fewer than 2.5 goals – a wager which can be found in the sportsbook at 41/20.