Top Tips for the World Cup Finals – Part One – The Group Stage

This week on Thursday June 14, the World Cup Finals 2018 get underway in Moscow, Russia with the first game between the host nation and Saudi Arabia. A total of 32 teams will play through an initial group phase and then a knockout phase to decide which one team will be the World Cup Winners 2018.

In this first of two articles, the second of which will be published later this week on the eve of the first game, we will take a look at each of the eight groups in the tournament. We will take you through the four teams competing in each group before giving you our tips for which team will win the Group, who will qualify as the runner up and which two teams will be eliminated.

To finish, we will then put together all eight group winners in a single accumulator bet for the finals to see what the potential odds on a return would be if we get the predictions correct.

Remember, you will need a recognised sports betting site to enjoy the best betting on at the World Cup and Coral Sport are well worth a closer look. You don’t need to sign up with that particular offer though, you can sign up using Coral Vegas £10 Free No Deposit offer if you prefer and then use your account to access the sports betting service. Or you can use any of Coral’s introductory offers on other sites, just pick the one that you feel suits you best.

So, without any further ado, let’s take a look at the four groups and we have listed the competing teams in each group in the order we believe that they will finish in the group after each has played their three games.

World Cup Group Stage Predictions

Group A – Final Table Prediction

  • 1st – Uruguay
  • 2nd – Russia
  • 3rd – Egypt
  • 4th – Saudi Arabia

How will the Group Go?

For me, Uruguay are the class act in this group. They have a superb back line, led by Atletico Madrid pair Diego Godin and Jose Giminez and in attack two of the best strikers in world football with Luis Suarez of Barcelona and Paris St Germain’s Edinson Cavani. The remainder of the squad doesn’t quite reach these lofty heights though, but I think they are strong enough to take at least seven points from their games to top the group.

The key match for me though is Russia v Egypt as I think that will likely decide who finishes second behind Uruguay. Russia are on home soil and that gives them a big advantage, but their form heading into the tournament is poor. Egypt are a decent side and their hopes seem to rest on Mo Salah recovering from a shoulder injury in time, although he will remain a doubt likely until their first game.

The Saudi’s are the poorest team in the group by quite some distance and I think they may struggle to take a point in any of their three games.

Key Match – Russia v Egypt (Tue June 19, St.Petersburg, 7pm)

Group B – Final Table Prediction

  • 1st – Spain
  • 2nd – Portugal
  • 3rd – Morocco
  • 4th – Iran

How will the Group Go?

I think Group B is an almost nailed on certainty that Spain will top the group. Portugal may be ranked higher than Spain by FIFA but the Spanish team is far stronger as a unit, though they will miss not having an out and out goalscoring attacker in their squad.

Portugal do have precisely that in Cristiano Ronaldo, who has netted an incredible 81 goals for his country but the elder statesman for his country is now being ably supported by a group of talented young players and I think they’ll qualify comfortably in second. Portugal’s game with Morocco will likely be the crucial game for second spot in this group, while their match with Spain will likely decide the group winner.

I don’t think there is much to choose between Morocco and Iran to be honest and their game will likely decide who finishes third in the group, I’ve plumped for Morocco because I feel they play better quality opponents more often and have more players with experience at higher levels of the game.

Key Match – Portugal v Spain (Fri June 15, Sochi, 7pm)

Group C – Final Table Prediction

  • 1st – France
  • 2nd – Peru
  • 3rd – Denmark
  • 4th – Australia

How will the Group Go?

In truth, I can’t see anybody getting the better of Didier Deschamps France in this group. The French have an outstanding squad in terms of pure talent and it is a young squad that can still improve, which is a frightening prospect for teams looking at Euro 2020 and the World Cup 2022. I think they win this group at a canter.

The real battle here is for second spot and I think all teams have a chance. Australia tend to do well at World Cup finals despite having a generally lesser squad than their opponents, Denmark are very solid and rely on Christian Eriksen as their main inspiration, however I feel both of these may just miss out.

Peru tend not to travel well to World Cup competitions in Europe, but their squad has a more global feel nowadays and I think that will help them surprise a few people and claim second spot in the group just ahead of the other two teams.

Key Match – Peru v Denmark (Sat June 16, Saransk, 5pm)

Group D – Final Table Prediction

  • 1st – Argentina
  • 2nd – Croatia
  • 3rd – Iceland
  • 4th – Nigeria

How will the Group Go?

This is the toughest group to predict in the World Cup as all four teams stand a chance of progressing. Argentina have the brilliance of Messi and many outstanding attacking players, but in midfield and defensively they are really lacking and that must be a concern for coach Sampaoli.

Croatia and Iceland could both profit from that. Iceland finished ahead of Croatia in their European World Cup Qualifying group but I think at the World Cup, Croatia’s greater experience at this level, particularly in midfield just gives them the edge, though the Iceland v Croatia clash will likely be the defining match in the group I feel, moreso than Croatia’s clash with Argentina.

Nigeria are a decent team and they have a very good record against Argentina, which is something the Argentineans will be wary of, however I feel they are not as talented as some previous Nigerian teams and I believe they will finish bottom of the pile in Group D.

Key Match – Iceland v Croatia (Tue June 26, Rostov-on-Don, 5pm)

Group E – Final Table Prediction

  • 1st – Brazil
  • 2nd – Serbia
  • 3rd – Switzerland
  • 4th – Costa Rica

How will the Group Go?

Brazil are the obvious winners in Group E as for me, they are the best and most in form team in the tournament at the moment. I’d be very surprised if they didn’t win this group with maximum points and having been able to rest players in their third group game.

The real battle in this group is for second spot and the other three teams will feel they stand a chance. Switzerland are the slight favourites here, but I do worry about where they will get goals and in truth, I have similar concerns for Costa Rica who also lack goals and who also have a very ageing squad.

As such, I think the Serbia v Switzerland clash will decide who comes second in this group and I think Serbia will just about do it. I think they have the better quality options in key areas in the pitch, have more top level experience and are long overdue a decent showing at a major tournament.

Key Match – Serbia v Switzerland (Fri June 22, Kaliningrad, 5pm)

Group F – Final Table Prediction

  • 1st – Germany
  • 2nd – Mexico
  • 3rd – Sweden
  • 4th – South Korea

How will the Group Go?

Rather like Group E with Brazil, in Group F I think Germany will walk away with winning the group and once again, I’d expect the current World Cup holders to finish top of the group with the maximum points haul, thus avoiding a potential second round game with Brazil.

I think Mexico and Sweden are the two teams that will vie for second spot in the group. South Korea will work hard, but their form heading into the tournament isn’t great and at the moment, I can’t see them keeping enough goals out to let their most talented attacking players thrive.

In truth, it’s coin toss between the Mexicans and Swedes for second and their clash will be vital on the final round of fixtures. However, I think Mexico pose a greater goal threat and having reached the last sixteen every tournament since USA 1994, I think they’ll do likewise here.

Key Match – Mexico v Sweden (Wed 27 June, Yekatarinburg, 3pm)

Group G – Final Table Prediction

  • 1st – Belgium
  • 2nd – England
  • 3rd – Tunisia
  • 4th – Panama

How will the Group Go?

I think this group is best discussed from the bottom up, so as you can see I have put Panama at the foot of the table as I think they will likely leave this World Cup finals without a point, simply because they are just nowhere near as strong as the other teams in the group.

Tunisia come next and I think that is by no means a given. The Africans are ranked 14th in the world, just one place behind England and that clash between the two teams on the opening round of fixtures for Group G will be vital. England should win, but if they slip up, it could be very costly.

Assuming all goes well however, that should leave Belgium and England on six points each before the two teams meet in the final group game. I think that is likely to end in a draw, but I also feel Belgium will score more goals than England, hence they finish top of the group with England in second.

Key Match – Tunisia v England (Mon June 18, Volgograd, 7pm)

Group H – Final Table Prediction

  • 1st – Colombia
  • 2nd – Poland
  • 3rd – Senegal
  • 4th – Japan

How will the Group Go?

Rather like Group D, Group H consists of four relatively well-matched teams and this could be another group where a few surprise results come along. Colombia and Poland I would expect to go through and the victor in their clash should be the the one that tops the group.

Senegal are the mystery here. They don’t have any real form going into the World Cup but they have a squad packed with some real talent and if these players click, they can pose any team here a real threat. They haven’t yet hit top gear, but if they do in Russia, they could upset the applecart in Group H.

Japan for me are one of the poorer Japan sides of recent times and I think they’ll struggle to get a point in their three games.

Key Match – Poland v Colombia (Sun 24 June, Kazan, 7pm)

Group Winner Accumulator

Our selections for each group winner are as follows (Odds provided by Coral Sport)

  • Group A – Uruguay – 8/11
  • Group B – Spain – 1/2
  • Group C – France – 1/3
  • Group D – Argentina – 8/13
  • Group E – Brazil – 2/7
  • Group F – Germany – 1/3
  • Group G – Belgium – 5/6
  • Group H – Colombia – 5/4

A £10 bet on this eightfold with Coral would return at odds of 39.46/1, which means you would win £394.60, plus get your £10 stake back if the bet is a winner.