The 2018 FIFA World Cup will kick off June 14 when host country Russia takes on Saudi Arabia.
Below, we give the World Cup sports betting breakdown for each of the groups and each team’s odds to win the tournament, pointing to “safe” and “sleeper” picks at the end. Catch all the action for the World Cup (during work hours or otherwise) and schedule information at the FOX Sports Network.
First, Group Analysis, Followed By Individual Team Odds and Breakdowns for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
While there’s no clear-cut “Group of Death” for this World Cup, there are a few groups that provide more intrigue than others.
Group D has the potential to provide an exciting race for the second knockout spot between a skilled Croatian team, giant killers Iceland, and a fast paced Nigerian team. Group H is nearly wide open — the most evenly spread out group, lacking a pair of no clear favorites. Look for some tight games coming from Poland, Japan, Senegal and Colombia. The group with the two strongest teams in it is Group B with heavy favorites to advance, Portugal and Spain. Below is a breakdown of who we think will advance to the knockout rounds.
Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
Probable Winners: Uruguay and Russia
The Breakdown: Uruguay should run laps around the group. They have a solid team again led by some strong veterans and young talent mixed in. We also have Russia advancing, despite them not making it out of a group stage since 2008. With the advantage of playing at home, and perhaps some friendly officiating, they should surprise some and advance.
Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran
Probable Winners: Spain and Portugal
The Breakdown: Spain and Portugal are the clear favorites in this group and should have no problem advancing to the knockout round and possibly beyond.
Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
Probable Winners: France and Denmark
The Breakdown: France has high expectations and we believe it will meet them in this tournament. As for the second team to advance in this group, look for Denmark to make a strong showing past Peru and Australia. Denmark’s key player Christian Eriksen should be a contributing factor to help them advance to the knockout round.
Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
Probable Winners: Argentina and Croatia
The Breakdown: Look for Messi to lead Argentina past the group stage and beyond, as he is hungry for his first World Cup title. We anticipate that Croatia will also emerge from this group as it has some strong skilled players like Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic, but Iceland and Nigeria could give them a run for their money.
Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
Probable Winners: Brazil and Switzerland
The Breakdown: Tied with Germany as Las Vegas favorites to win the whole tournament, Brazil should have a walkthrough in this group followed by the Swiss who are usually strong in group play, but lack the experience in the knockout round.
Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
Probable Winners: Germany and Mexico
The Breakdown: This is an easy group from which the reigning World Cup champions, Germany, will advance. Look for Mexico to be the second team to move on to the knockout round from as Sweden has moved on from their star Zlatan Ibrahimovic and is in more of a rebuild mode.
Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England
Probable Winners: Belgium and England
The Breakdown: This is the year for Belgium to show its star potential, so look for it to advance out of group play and deep into the tournament. Despite England’s disappointing 2016 European Championship loss to Iceland, it has rebuilt its squad around Tottenham star Harry Kane. Th lack of experience can daunt in the knockout round, but its talent should be enough to propel it out of group play.
Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan
Probable Winners: Colombia and Poland
The Breakdown: This group is wide open for two countries to advance, but our two favorites are Robert Lewandowski-led Poland and Colombia, led by James Rodriguez. Look out for Japan to give a strong battle in this group as it has a good amount of players with European experience.
Team Odds to Win the Tournament and Breakdowns.
Coming off a 2014 World Cup win, Germany is looking hungry again to reclaim the throne for the 2018 campaign. Currently undefeated in 2017 matches, Germany is led by skipper Joachim Low and key veterans Manuel Neur and Toni Kroos. Look for this the Germans to make a deep run in the tournament as the co-favorites with…
Despite a hugely disappointing loss to Germany in the semifinals of the 2014 World Cup, Brazil has managed to regain its stride with the appointment of Tite as the Brazilian manager. Brazil has won 17, drawn three, and only lost one friendly to Argentina since Tite took the helm. Las Vegas has them as co-favorites on this comeback story for the 2018 World Cup.
Brazil training looks fun…
Philippe Coutinho gets egged on his birthday, before Marcelo helps him get his revenge on Neymar 😂 pic.twitter.com/ZG9riVQSnR
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 12, 2018
After a very disappointing 2014 campaign that saw Spain not even make it out of group play, it looks like the ship has righted for a successful 2018 campaign. Led by some wily veterans like David De Gea and Andres Iniesta with the infusion of strikers Alvaro Morata. Look for Spain to have a massive bounce back World Cup campaign in 2018.
France came in as a heavy favorites early as it made it to the 2016 Euro Final against Portugal and continued to play strong football afterwards, but some roster changes to the 23-man squad such as removing Alexandre Lacazette and Anthony Martial, has moved it down a bit to +700. Despite the roster changes, France is still loaded with talent to make a deep run in the tournament. This is our pick to win it all, look out for them.
Led by Messi, with help from some potent attack players such as Gonzalo Higuaín and Sergio Aguero, Messi is looking to achieve a feat that many think he is not strong enough to accomplish: win a World Cup. Turning 31, look for Messi to be a man on a mission in this tournament.
With a host of young talent, led by Chelsea star Eden Hazard, this team has the potential to make it to the World Cup finals, but in years past it has lacked a good manager. After a disappointing 2016 Euro campaign, Belgium signed Spanish coach Roberto Martinez. Will he be the one to lead Belgium to its first semifinal berth of the World Cup, or more?
Captained by Tottenham’s young star Harry Kane, England is taking a relatively young team to the 2018 World Cup. Look for this team to learn and grow on the fly in this tournament but don’t expect much as its last World Cup ended with a group-play exit in 2014 and a loss to Iceland in the 2016 round of 16 European Championship.
Slightly surprising to see Portugal this far down the list as it won the 2016 Euros. Time is of the essence for 33-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo has a solid amount of talent around him, with Pepe in the back, Joao Moutinho in the mid, and David Silva up top. Portugal could be a surprise team.
Built with 30-year-old strikers Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, and a crop of new young talent such as 19-year-old Federico Valverde and 21-year-old Nahitan Nandez in the mid, Uruguay is a mediocre contender this year. According to Telegraph.com, manager Oscar Tabarez, who has been the head coach for Uruguay for four World Cups (three in a row), claims that Uruguay has a paced reinvention that will bear fruit in 2022. Look for more success in the future for this Uruguayan squad.
Led by Real Madrid star Luka Modric alongside Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic, Croatia is poised to be a threat on paper but it hasn’t gelled as a team to pull it together on the international stage leaving them rightfully at 33-1.
Colombia’s key player to keep an eye on is young talent James Rodriguez. If he could produce like much of the same in 2014, this team has the young talent to make a decent run in this tournament.
Host country Russia has seen better days. It was a formidable team in 2008 reaching the semifinals at the 2008 Euros, but in the past decade it hasn’t been able to get out of group play in any major international tournament.
Led by Bayern Munich phenom Robert Lewandowski, look for this ball hawk and goal machine to give it his all and entertain as he does not have much working around him. This is its first World Cup since 2006, so expect a heavy turnout of Polish supporters in Russia.
Look for the results of Denmark in the 2018 World Cup to rest heavily on the shoulders of playmaker Christian Eriksen. Denmark hasn’t played in a major tournament since 2012.
Mexico has been a regular at the World Cup, reaching the last six tournaments, but has struggled to get out of the Round of 16. Keep an eye on former Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez (Chicharito) to have continued success in the striking position for Mexico.
The Swiss had an average World Cup campaign in 2014, making it out of group play, but then losing, 1-0, to eventual runner-up Argentina in the round of 16. This is the norm for the Swiss as it hasn’t won a World Cup knockout game since 1954. If the Swiss make it to the quarterfinals that would be deemed a successful campaign.
Without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, one would think that Sweden would be much more vulnerable because he was an inspiration in the striking position, but surprisingly head coach Janne Andersson has done a great job of rebuilding without the star. Andersson took over after the 2016 Euros and successfully reached the World Cup by stunning Italy in the playoffs to make its first appearance in the World Cup since 2006.
Senegal is making an appearance in the World Cup for the first time since 2002. Led by Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, look for his blistering pace to make an impact. There isn’t much depth around him though.
Sadio Mané is unquestionably the most exciting player for his side, but can he carry them deep in the FIFA World Cup? @FernandoFiore has everything you need to know about Senegal! pic.twitter.com/B1fUUaj3er
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) June 11, 2018
Led by the most electric player in the EPL this past year, Mohamed Salah, who is recovering from injury in the Champions League Final, Egypt is finally back in the World Cup hunt after a nearly 30-year drought (1990). It will be interesting to see how this country holds up in the tournament with its star Salah coming back from injury.
Iceland is the smallest country ever to reach the World Cup with a population just over 334,000. This team shocked many in the 2016 Euros when it knocked out England in the round of 16 to advance to the quarter finals. Will it mount another large scale upset?
Serbia cruised through qualifying and had the most goals scored (20) in its group. However, interestingly, it fired the head coach and have yet to appoint a new one, and are using interim head coach Mladen Krstajic to stand in.
Led by Shinji Kagawa of Borussia Dortmund, Japan has the composition for a semi-decent performance. It lacks star power but has players who have some European experience. (However, Japan and the remainder of these squads are not recommended wagers.)
While Nigeria lacks the star power compared to other teams in the World Cup, it can be a force to be reckoned with as Argentina found out in a friendly in November when Nigeria won, 4-2. Also, keep an eye out for the team’s smooth jerseys and outfits.
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 12, 2018
Peru ran into some early discomfort this World Cup with the status of captain Paolo Guerrero up in the air due to a doping ban. His suspension was reduced from one year to six months however, so he will be able to participate in the World Cup. He will be the impact player for Peru.
Costa Rica +25000
This is Costa Rica’s fifth World Cup appearance, and it’s looking to duplicate some of its success from the 2014 Cup when it advanced to the quarterfinals against Netherlands. Costa Rica’s premier player is keeper Keylor Navas from Madrid.
Similar to Serbia, Australia’s coach quit just a week after qualifying, and it has yet to have appoint a new coach. It will be interesting to see how this team fares without its old coach, who brought them success, Ange Postecolou.
Iran will be making its first back-to-back World Cup appearances (2014, 2018). Iran is looking to do better than its winless 2014 campaign. Manager Carlos Queiroz, who retained his job after the 2014 Cup, has the team’s sights set on the knockout stage.
After a 20-year drought, Morocco is back in the World Cup. Led by French manager Herve Renard, look for this team to have solid defending mixed with a fast-paced attack.
South Korea +40000
South Korea has reached World Cup every time since 1986. This team is led by a trio of EPL players, Tottenham’s Son Heung-min, Swansea’s Ki Sung-yeung and Crystal Palace’s Lee Chung-yong.
Tunisia is making its first appearance in the World Cup in 12 years. Eyes on Youssef Msakni to play a critical role in the country’s success.
This is Panama’s first World Cup appearance and a win in pool play would mark a success story.
Saudi Arabia +100000
Last but not least, Saudi Arabia. This is the fifth World Cup appearance for Saudi Arabia, and first since 2006. Saudi Arabia is looking to repeat the success it had in the 1994 Cup when it advanced out of group play only to lose to Sweden in the next round. Star player is Mohammad Al-Sahlawi scored 16 goals in qualifying matches.
Safe, Value Pick: France +700
While the heavy Vegas favorites are reigning 2014 World Cup champions Germany, and semifinalists Brazil, we predict France will be the country to go all the way this year. France has star Hugo Lloris in net to stop almost any threat, and it has the depth at midfield and attack to really take it to teams this World Cup.
Sleeper Pick: Portugal +2500
Our sleeper pick, Portugal, may shock the world with its success. While Ronaldo is not the same as the twentysomething Ronaldo, he still manages to get it done and is hungrier than ever as his time to win a World Cup is running out. With one of the more decent squads around Ronaldo, look for him to have some added help to make a deep run. Worthy value at 25-1.