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Football betting tips | World Cup Russia Predictions



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  • World Cup 2018 Betting


    The groups have been drawn for the World Cup in Russia 2018 with some exciting clashes in store. Portugal & Spain will be a mouth-watering clash in Group B and England’s clash with a Premier League littered squad of Belgium in Group G.


    Panama and Iceland make their debuts at the World Cup finals and are sure to bring a fresh feel to the competition. Iceland will face 2014 finalists Argentina in their group alongside Croatia, who they finished above in their qualifying group. Panama qualified in the last game of the group by beating Costa Rica and were drawn in England’s group along with Tunisia.



    Reigning World champions Germany (5/1) lead the way in the betting markets. They have a blend of youth and experience which was in evidence during their Confederations Cup success. Brazil (11/2) looked a completely different team after the sacking of Dunga and are strong contenders once again. Can they win it for a sixth time?



    France (6/1) have undeniable talent in their squad but they struggled for goals in qualifying, typified by their shock 0-0 draw with minnows Luxembourg. Argentina (9/1), for all their firepower, also struggled for goals and perhaps missed their chance when losing to Germany in the final in 2014. Spain are not the side they once were which is understandable given the incredible heights they reached. They must still be respected and prices of around 7/1 will tempt many. Belgium have long been touted as having a golden age of players but have flattered to deceive.



    Expectations for England are low for the second World Cup running but this may liberate them somewhat. They’ve tried out young players to some benefit in friendlies with Germany & Brazil and have a deadly striker in Harry Kane. If Adam Lallana returns to fitness and form in the New Year, it’ll be a plus for them.

    Portugal are a big price for European champions at best price 28/1. In truth, it was a shock they won the Euros and did extremely well with a limited squad. With the likes of Bernardo Silva & Joao Mario in their squad, they have some young blood and real quality to call upon. Poland, Croatia & Colombia are squads with experience throughout their squads and players with big-match experience, expect at least one of them to at least make it to the quarter-finals.


  • GROUP A Preview - World Cup Russia 2018

    Russia (Hosts) – Current Best Odds 40/1

    Russia World Cup Squad

    When hosting the Confederations Cup, Russia’s squad was entirely made up of players who played in the domestic league including goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev of CSKA Moscow who has amassed over 100 caps. Another familiar face who may feature is former Chelsea midfielder Yuri Zhirkov, who now plays at Zenit St Petersberg.

    Russian Manager

    Stanislav Cherchesov – He is a former Soviet Union goalkeeper and represented Russia at the ’94 & ’02 World Cups. He took over as manager in 2016 and was under scrutiny for Russia’s performances in the Confederations Cup as they were knocked out in the group stage. His managerial honours list includes just two trophies, a Polish league & cup double with Legia Warsaw before taking the national team job.

    Russia World Cup History

    This will be Russia’s fourth World Cup with their first coming at USA ’94. The Soviet Union finished fourth in the 1966 World Cup.

    Saudi Arabia – Current Best Odds 2000/1

    How did they qualify?

    They managed to gain automatic qualification in the last game of the group with a 1-0 victory table toppers Japan. They finished joint top scorers with Japan on 17 goals with midfielder Al Abid scoring 5 goals.

    Saudi Arabia World Cup Squad

    Yahya Al Shehri became the most expensive Saudi footballer in 2013 when he moved from Ettifaq to Al-Nassr for £9.6m. The aforementioned Al Abid was their top scorer and plays in the Saudi league with Al Hilal.

    Saudi Arabia Manager

    Juan Antonio Pizzi – Was appointed on November 28th following the departure of Bert van Marwijk who led them to qualification and is one of two managers to leave his post after securing his team qualification (the other being Ange Postecoglu with Australia). Van Marwijk was replaced by former Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza but was sacked after just five games in charge.

    Pizzi is a former Spanish international player who was born in Argentina. He played at the 1998 World Cup coming on as a substitute. He manged Chile and enjoyed success with them as they won the Copa America in 2016 beating Argentina in the final. He was manager of the team that got to the final of the Confederations Cup where they lost to Germany. After failing to qualify for the World Cup, he resigned.

    Saudi Arabia World Cup History

    Saudi Arabia's only victories at a finals came in their first appearance in 1994, when they won two group matches and reached the second round. Their 1-0 win against Belgium was the game that produced one of the greatest goals in World Cup history when forward Saeed Al Owairan ran from his own half and beat half the Belgian defence to score.


    Egypt – Current Best Odds 300/1

    How did they qualify?

    Four wins out of six for Eqypt in their group with their one defeat coming away to Uganda. They revered that result in the following game and put themselves in a strong position, beating bottom-placed Congo while Uganda and Ghana played out a 0-0 draw.

    Egypt World Cup Squad

    On course for player of the season in the Premier League, Mo Salah’s first season at Liverpool has been a revelation. Going at the rate of his first four months at the club, he’s well on his way to netting 30 goals this season. He has scored 32 goals for the national side, including 5 in the campaign just gone. Elneny of Arsenal will be another influential figure for them alongside Aston Villa’s Elmohamady.

    Egypt World Cup Manager

    Hector Cuper – Legendary Argentine manager who led Valencia to two Champions League finals in consecutive years  in 2000 & 2001. He managed Egypt to the final of the African Nations Cup 2017 where they lost 2-1 to Cameroon .

    Egypt World Cup History

    This will be their third finals appearance having fallen at the play-off stage for the last two campaigns.

    Uruguay – Current Best odds 33/1

    How did they qualify?

    Uruguay finished in 2nd place and as second top scorers with 32 goals. Cavani netted ten of those goals. Home form was key for them as they lost just once to Brazil.

    Uruguay World Cup Squad

    Cavani is undoubtedly the form player for them right now and is banging the goals in for PSG this season with a 30-goal target not unrealistic. Luis Suarez doesn’t look himself so far this season but has a few months to get things right in the build-up.

    Uruguay Manager

    Óscar Tabárez – Nicknamed ‘El Maestro’ (The Teacher), he has been manager since 2006. He guided them to the Copa America title in 2011. Results and performances in the past year have been worrying and this could possibly be his swansong.

    Uruguay World Cup History

    They won the first ever World Cup in 1930 and won it again twenty years later. Reached the last 16 in the last tournament where they were knocked out by Colombia.

  • GROUP B Preview - World Cup Russia 2018

    Portugal – Current Best Odds 25/1

    How did they qualify?

    Portugal had to wait until the final game to seal automatic qualification as they beat Switzerland to pip them for top spot. They won nine out of ten of their games with their only loss coming against Switzerland in the opening round of games. Cristiano Ronaldo bagged 15 goals making him the second highest scorer overall in the group qualifying campaign.

    Portugal World Cup Squad

    Cristiano Ronaldo scored 15 goals in qualifying and will be hungry as ever to taste success with the national team. Other familiar players are Adrien Silva of Leicester City & Bernardo Silva of Man City. Renato Sanches is on loan from Bayern Munich at Swansea but has been struggling to make an impact so far.

    Portugal Manager

    Fernando Santos – He has managed the big three in Portuguese club football and managed Greece at the last World Cup. After that he took the role of leading his national team and led them to their first trophy by winning Euro 2016.

    Portugal World Cup History

    Their best finish came back in 1966 where they finished 3rd and they also made the semi-final in 2006. They failed to make it out of the group stages in 2014 but bounced back to win the Euros in France.

    Spain – Current Best Odds 8/1

    How did they qualify?

    Spain qualified as group winners and went unbeaten dropping just two points in a 1-1 draw away to Italy. Isco & Diego Costa finished as their joint top scorers with five goals.

    Spain World Cup Squad

    They possess one of the best goalkeepers in the world in David De Gea and have a very able backup in Pepe Reina. Pique & Ramos provide incredible experience at the back with Jordi Alba thought of as one of the best left-backs around right now. They aren’t what they were in the midfield area but David Silva is in fantastic form over the past two seasons. Attacking-wise, Isco & Morata can provide game-changing moments.

    Spain Manager

    Julen Lopetegui – He has no experience of managing a senior side at a tournament but has gone thirteen matches unbeaten since taking over in July 2016. Has won European Championships at U-21 & U-19 level with Spain. Earned one cap as player in 1994 as a substitute and was in the squad for the ’94 World Cup.

    Spain World Cup History

    The golden age for Spanish international football began in 2008 when they won the Euros and they followed that up by becoming world champions two years later. A little hard to fathom their current world ranking of 11th and current price of 8/1 should tempt a few that’s for sure.

    Morocco – Current Best Odds 500/1

    How did they qualify?

    Finished in top spot ahead of the Ivory Coast and went the six games without conceding a goal. They scored 11 goals with three 0-0 draws suggesting that they are quite a defensive unit.

    Morocco World Cup Squad

    Their captain is Medhi Benatia who currently plays for Italian champions Juventus. He didn’t feature much at the start of the season but has come into the starting XI and scored in a 3-0 home win over Crotone in Serie A. Southampton’s Sofiane Boufal will also be an important player for them alongside striker Kalid Boutaid who scored a hat-trick against Gabon in qualifying.

    Morocco Manager

    Herve Renard – One of his first managerial roles was at Cambridge United where he last 25 games. He has travelled far and wide, managing in Vietnam , Angola, Zambia and the Ivory Coast as well as his native France.

    He won the African Nations Cup with Zambia in 2012 and the Ivory Coast in 2015. He went to manage Lille after that success but it didn’t work out for him and he took over as Morocco boss in 2016.

    Morocco World Cup History

    Their best finish was in 1986 where they made the last 16. They were unlucky not to make it out of the group stages in 1998 after winning one game and drawing another. This will be their first appearance since that tournament in France.

    Iran – Current Best Odds 750/1

    How did they qualify?

    Iran qualified top of the group and went unbeaten in their ten games, winning six and drawing four. Their biggest wins were two 2-0 scorelines against Uzbekistan & Qatar. Those games accounted for 40% of their goal tally as they scored a modest ten goals and conceded just two.

    Iranian World Cup Squad

    Reza Ghoochannejhad scored 20 goals for Dutch side Heerenveen last season but goals have been a little harder to come by so far this season. He hasn’t scored for Iran since June 2016 either so he’ll be hoping to pick some form up again in the run-up to June. Sardar Azmoun plays in Russia for Rubin Kazan so a bit of familiarity may well benefit Iran here. He scored 4 goals in qualifying and has scored six goals in his last seven games for Iran.

    Iran Manager

    Carlos Queiroz – The former Portugal, Sporting Lisbon and Real Madrid manager, who was also assistant manager to Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, has been in charge of Iran for six years. This will be his second World Cup finals in charge of them after leading them in Brazil.

    Iran World Cup History

    Five appearances at a finals but only one victory to their name so far back in France ’98 when they beat USA 2-1. The Republic of Ireland knocked them out in the play-offs for the 2002 World Cup.

  • GROUP C Preview - World Cup Russia 2018

    France – Current Best Odds 6/1

    How did they qualify?

    France topped their group by four points from second-placed Sweden. They had a couple of underwhelming 0-0 draws away to Belarus and at home to Luxembourg. Their top joint scorers were Griezmann & Giroud on four goals.

    France World Cup Squad

    A squad full of stars including Griezmann, Pogba, Gameiro & Mbappe to name but a few. Griezmann hasn’t had the best of seasons so far for Atletico but a run of form after the New Year could see him blossom at the right time. Pogba has been out with injury for Manchester United but will be back in the side on a regular basis around Christmas and the New Year.

    France Manager

    Didier Deschamps – A World Cup winner as a player with France at the host nation beat Brazil in ’98. He won 103 caps and also won the European Championships in 2000. He has been at the helm since 2012 and guided France to the European Championships final in 2016 where they lost to Portugal.

    France World Cup History

    One of the big nations over the past twenty years. Winners in 1998 and runners-up eight years later in 2006 when they lost to Italy in Zinedine Zidane’s last game. European runners-up in 2016 and quarter-finalists in World Cup 2014.

    Australia – Current Best Odds 750/1

    How did they qualify?

    Australia had to go through two play-off games to make it to the finals. They missed out on automatic qualification to Japan with a surprise 2-2 draw with Thailand proving costly. However, they beat Syria after extra-time and went on to play Honduras. A Mile Jedinak hat-trick in the second-leg saw them qualify for Russia.

    Australia World Cup Squad

    Former Everton midfielder Tim Cahill is still leading the team and he scored 11 goals throughout qualifying. Bournemouth duo Brad Smith and Adam Federici are a couple of their higher profile players with Mile Jedinak playing for Aston Villa in the Championship.

    Australia Manager

    The Socceroos are looking for a replacement for Ange Postecoglu who resigned six days after qualifying, citing the demands of qualification having been too much for him.

    Australia World Cup History

    This will be the fourth consecutive World Cup appearance and a fifth overall for Australia. They suffered heartbreak in their best ever performance when they reached the last 16. They lost to Italy thanks to a 95th-minute penalty!

    Peru – Current Best Odds 250/1

    How did they qualify?

    Peru were the last nation to qualify for Russia 2018 following a play-off victory over New Zealand where they won 2-0 in the 2nd leg. They made it into the play-off spot in the final round of fixtures when they drew 1-1 with Colombia. There was quite a bit of talk surrounding the final minutes of the game in the aftermath as it looked like there was an on-field agreement between both sets of players to play out a 1-1 draw. It suited both nations seeing as Chile were losing 3-0 to Brazil and therefore out the equation should the result stay the same.

    Peru World Cup Squad

    Jefferson Farfan is their star player having scored three goals in qualifying as well as netting the first goal in their 2-0 win over New Zealand. He had spells in Europe with PSV and spent seven seasons at Schalke playing in the Bundesliga. Andre Carillo is currently on loan at Watford from Benfica and has over 30 caps for the national side.

    Peru Manager

    Ricardo Gareca – An Argentine who won 20 caps as a player and has managed Peru since 2015. He is nicknamed ‘El Tigre’, ‘The Tiger’ and played for four of the biggest clubs in Argentina throughout his careers, including a direct move between fierce rivals Boca Juniors & River Plate. He has won domestic titles in Peru & Argentina’s top divisions.

    Peru World Cup History

    This is Peru’s first World Cup appearance since 1982 so the celebrations were wild when they qualified. It is their fifth appearance overall and they’ll be a tricky opponent for anyone having beaten Uruguay and drawn with Argentina in qualifying.

    Denmark – Current Best Odds 100/1

    How did they qualify?

    Denmark finished 2nd to group winners Poland and hammered our boys 5-1 in Dublin in the play-off to seal their place in Russia. Much was made of how they would play in the first-leg given their proficiency in the passing game. They elected to play a long-ball game and the game finished 0-0 in a dour affair.

    They came with a different approach in the away leg and completely tore Ireland apart. Another noteworthy result from qualifying was their 4-0 win over Poland in Copenhagen.

    Denmark World Cup Squad

    Christian Eriksen is the main man having scored a hat-trick in the play-offs and eight goals in the group stages. The Tottenham midfielder is a top-class performer on his day and has been linked with moves to Barcelona and Real Madrid.

    Thomas Delaney of Werder Bremen provides quality and composure in the middle of the park and young winger Sisto of Celta Vigo caused Ireland so many problems in Dublin. They have solid ball playing players at the back with Kjaer & Christensen and have Kasper Schmeichel in goal. Up front Jorgensen, Cornelius & Bendtner provide different options should they need to shake things up.

    Denmark Manager

    Åge Hareide – Very much the look of a character from a Scandinavian crime thriller these days, the Danish boss, a Norwegian national who won 50 caps as a player, had spells at Norwich & Manchester City as a player.

    He has won titles in all of the Scandinavian countries with his best achievement arguably being when he guided Helsingborgs IF to their first league trophy in 58 years. He managed Norway from 2003-2008 but failed to qualify for any tournaments.

    Denmark World Cup History

    This will be Denmark’s fifth appearance at a World Cup finals and their first since 2010 in South Africa. Their best performance at a finals came in France ’98 where they made it through to the quarter-finals against eventual finalists Brazil.

  • GROUP D Preview - World Cup Russia 2018

    Argentina – Current Best Odds 9/1

    How did they qualify?

    Argentina fans had to sweat over qualification as it went down to the last game. They were away to Ecuador and found themselves 1-0 down after one minute. However, Messi came to the rescue scoring a hat-trick in fifty minutes to the relief of a nation.

    Argentina World Cup Squad

    Lionel Messi is still the main man and dug them out of a hole in their final match. Remarkably, he was the only forward player to score in qualifying in their last six games. When you look at the firepower at their disposal, it’s a bit of mystery that the likes of Higuain, Dybala & Aguero amongst others can’t find the net.

    Argentina Manager

    Jorge Sampaoli – An Argentine who guided Chile to their first Copa America title in 2015 by beating his native country in the final. This led him to be appointed by Sevilla as their manager in 2016 and they finished in the top four securing Champions League qualification. He was offered the Argentine job which he took up after his first season at Sevilla.

    Argentina World Cup History

    Winners in 1978 & 1986 and runners-up three times including a 1-0 loss to Germany in Brazil in the last World Cup.

    Iceland – Current Best Odds 250/1

    How did they qualify?

    They finished top of a group that contained Croatia, Ukraine and Turkey and lost just two games. They beat Croatia at home and did the double over Turkey.

    Iceland World Cup Squad

    Gylfi Sigurdsson is their best player and will be invaluable to a team heading towards their first World Cup. He’s having a tough time of it at his new club Everton but his quality isn’t in question. Iceland have four players playing in the championship as the stock of their players rises following success at Euro 2016.

    Iceland Manager

    Heimir Hallgrimsson – ‘The dentist’ who was joint manager of the team at Euro 2016 and took over sole control after the tournament to lead them to a successful qualifying campaign.

    Iceland World Cup History

    This is Iceland’s first ever World Cup finals appearance. Their investment in grassroots football and academies is an incredible success story and is a shining example to other nations.

    Croatia – Current Best Odds 40/1

    How did they qualify?

    Perhaps a little surprisingly Croatia finished in 2nd place in their qualifying group behind Iceland. They lost away to the group winners and home draws proved costly, particularly at the end of the campaign, at home to Finland.

    They were drawn against Greece in the play-offs and easily won the first-leg 4-1 with a 0-0 draw being played out in the second-leg.

    Croatia World Cup Squad

    Former Tottenham midfielder Luka Modrić is the man who makes things tick. He has struggled a little for form this season but has been superb at Real Madrid, particularly last season when winning his 3rd Champions League title.

    Ivan Rakitić is another top quality midfielder we all know about and Nikola Kalinić and Mario Mandžukić are very capable strikers. 

    Croatia Manager

    Zlatko Dalić– He only took charge in October following the sacking of Ante Čačić but led them to important wins over Ukraine away and Greece at home. He spent seven years managing in Saudi Arabia following shorts spells at home and in Albania.

    Croatia World Cup History

    Croatia qualified for a World Cup at the first time of asking when they qualified for France ’98. Remarkably they finished 3rd in what is their best performance at a tournament to date.

    Nigeria – Current Best Odds 250/1

    How did they qualify?

    Nigeria went unbeaten in their group, winning four and drawing two. Chelsea’s Victor Moses scored three goals for them as the finished ahead of Zambia, Cameroon and Algeria.

    Nigeria Squad

    John Mikel Obi is their captain. The former Chelsea man now plays in China and has 80 caps for his country. Arsenal’s Iwobi and Leicester’s Iheanacho provide some youthful and attacking dynamic to the team.

    Nigeria Manager

    Gernot Rohr – Has manged at Bordeaux, Nantes & Nice. He brought Bordeaux to a UEFA Cup final in 1996 against Bayern Munich, who he made a handful of appearances for in the seventies.

  • GROUP E Preview - World Cup Russia 2018

    Brazil – Current Best Odds 11/2

    How did they qualify?

    Brazil strolled through qualification after getting rid of Dunga, losing only one game along the way. They scored the most goals in qualification and had the best defensive record, conceding eleven goals and keeping ten clean sheets.

    Brazil World Cup Squad

    Neymar is the biggest star in the team and scored six goals in qualification. The PSG forward has settled in well in Paris despite a couple of rifts with management and Cavani. They have Man City’s Gabriel Jesus who looks a phenomenal talent along with Coutinho who is currently at Liverpool for the time being.

    Brazil Manager

    Tite – A manager of a host of clubs in Brazil including three spells at Corinthians where he won a Copa Libertadores & a FIFA World Club title. He took over from Dunga much to the happiness of fans and players alike and turned things around dramatically, creating a much needed boost in morale in the national team.

    Brazil World Cup History

    Five time winners in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 & 2002 with some of the most iconic players and moments of World Cup history. Humiliated in the semi-final of the last World Cup, which they hosted, by losing 7-1 to Germany.

    Switzerland – Current Best Odds 70/1

    How did they qualify?

    The Swiss only lost one game and that was a shoot-out between them and Portugal in the last game to see who would gain automatic qualification. Portugal won 2-0 and Switzerland had to make do with a play-off place. They came up against Northern Ireland and won 1-0 on aggregate through a controversial penalty in Belfast. All in all, they were the better side and probably deserved to go through based on their group campaign also.

    Switzerland World Cup Squad

    Xherdan Shaqiri can provide a moment of magic here and there and has scored 20 goals for his country including a hat-trick in the last World Cup. He’s playing in a struggling Stoke side but has shown glimpses of his ability with individual brilliance so far this season. Granit Xhaka of Arsenal is another key player and Gelson Fernandes will be familiar to Man City & Leicester City fans.

    Switzerland Manager

    Vladimir Petkovic – Moved from then Yugoslavia in 1987 to Switzerland and played mostly in the Swiss 2nd division. Managed Young Boys & Sion in the Swiss league before taking over his biggest job yet at Lazio. He won the Coppa Italia in 2013 before taking the Swiss job.

    Switzerland World Cup History

    They have reached the quarter-finals three times and this will be their eleventh appearance at the finals. They hosted the tournament in 1954 and their last appearance was in the last World Cup where they lost to Argentina in the last 16.

    Costa Rica – Current Best Odds 500/1

    How did they qualify?

    Costa Rica finished second behind Mexico keeping four clean sheets and losing twice, one of which was in the last game of qualifying when they had already sealed their fate.

    Costa Rica World Cup Squad

    Former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz enjoyed a very good season with Sporting Lisbon in 2016/17 but hasn’t featured a lot so far in this one. SJ Earthquakes striker Marco Urena scored twice in a 2-0 win over USA and followed it up with a goal against Mexico in a 1-1 draw.

    Joel Campbell is still on the books at Arsenal and is currently on loan at Real Betis. Keylor Navas is their high achiever with a La Liga title and two Champions league medals to his name. He moved there after the last World Cup.

    Costa Rica Manager

    Oscar Ramirez – He played 75 times for his country including Costa Rica’s first World Cup fnals appearance in 1990. Has managed and won titles in the club sphere on Costa Rica. He took over from former Derby manager Paolo Wanchope as manager when Wanchope was involved in a brawl in a match against Panama.

    Costa Rica World Cup History

    An impressive fifth finals appearance since first qualifying in 1990. They reached the quarter-finals in 2014 and topped their group which contained Italy & England.

    Serbia – Current Best Odds 200/1

    How did they qualify?

    Serbia got off to a somewhat unconvincing start in their campaign with a less than convincing performance at home to the Republic of Ireland. However, they went through the campaign losing just one game and finishing two points ahead of Ireland.

    Serbia World Cup Squad

    Manchester United’s Nemanja Matić will be crucial to how well Serbia can do. They have experience at the back in Ivanovic & Kolarov but are perhaps past their best. Creatively, Tadic of Southampton is a key player for the Serbs.

    Serbia Manager

    Slavoljub Muslin – In his first international managerial role with Serbia after a club management career spanning nine countries including France, Belgium and Russia.

    Serbia World Cup History

    A twelfth appearance at a World Cup finals including the days of Yugolsav Republic. Failed to qualify for the last World Cup and didn’t get out of the group stage in 2006 & 2010.

  • GROUP F Preview - World Cup Russia 2018

    Germany – Current Best Odds 5/1

    How did they qualify?

    Ten wins out of ten in a typically resounding qualification campaign for the reigning World Cup champions.

    Germany World Cup Squad

    A great blend of players in their late twenties/early thirties and young talent already established at their respective clubs. Their strength in depth was displayed during the Confederations Cup where they played fringe players and still won the tournament.

    Leroy Sane is impressing at Man City with Timo Werner of RB Leipzig another exciting young talent and playing regular club football. Inspirational goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is sidelined for at least six months and will be hoping to get back to back to fitness towards the end of the season. Toni Kroos is a class act and a leader at 27 has already won two Champions Leagues as well as a World Cup.

    Germany Manager

    Joachim Löw – Guided Stuttgart to two fourth placed finishes in the last nineties and also got them to a Cup Winners’ Cup final. He had spells in Turkey and Austria before getting involved in the national team when Jurgen Kilnsmann took over in 2004. He took over as manager after the World Cup in 2006 and guided them to the European Cup final in 2008 losing to Spain.

    Germany World Cup History

    Four time winners and the reigning champions following their success in Brazil in 2014 becoming the first European team to win in the Americas.

    Mexico – Current Best Odds 125/1

    How did they qualify?

    Mexico kept five clean sheets in CONCAFCAF qualifying and lost just one game away to Honduras in the final round of matches. They had a spread of goalscorers throughout the campaign with PSV’s Loazano their top scorer on three goals.

    Mexico World Cup Squad

    Javier Hernandez returned to the Premier League in the summer signing for West Ham and he can still provide a goal threat. The aforementioned Hirving Lozano has slotted in very well at PSV and has netted ten goals in his opening thirteen games.

    Mexico Manager

    Juan Carlos Osario – Forced to retire as a player at 26 years of age due to injury. He studied Exercise Science at Connecticut University in the late eighties and has a diploma in Science and Football from Liverpool John Moores University.

    He was assistant manager at Man City between 2001 – 2005 and got his first number one job in his native Colombia with Millonarios. He’s had spells managing at clubs in the USA & Mexico and took over as Mexico national coach in 2015. He was banned for six matches after the Confederations Cup in Russia for using abusive language towards officials.

    Mexico World Cup History

    In each of the last six World Cup finals, Mexico have made the knockout stages including a quarter-final appearance when hosting in 1986.

    Sweden – Current Best Odds 125/1

    How did they qualify?

    Sweden qualified from a tough group which included France, Netherlands & Bulgaria. They pipped the Netherlands to 2nd spot and were then drawn against Italy in the play-offs. They kept the Azzuri scoreless over both games winning 1-0 on aggregate.

    Sweden Squad

    Marcus Berg stepped up to the plate in the absence of retired Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring eight goals. He is currently playing in the Arabian Gulf League with Al Ain following four seasons at Panathinaikos in Greece. Mikael Lustig of Celtic & Victor Lindelof of Manchester United are important defenders for the Swedes.

    Sweden Manager

    Janne Andersson – He had only managed at club level in Sweden before taking the national job. He achieved an impressive league title with IFK Norrköping in 2015, their first since 1992. Following Sweden’s success over Italy he was keen to stress the importance of his current squad and for the media not to be always focusing on asking questions about Ibrahimovic.

    Sweden World Cup History

    Best ever appearance at a finals was in 1958 when they hosted the tournament and lost to Brazil in the final. They finished in 3rd place at USA ’94. They haven’t appeared at a World Cup since 2006.

    South Korea – Current Best Odds 750/1

    How did they qualify?

    They suffered a surprising defeat to Qatar but still managed to make it into the automatic qualifying spots ahead of Syria. They scored just eleven goals in ten games and had three 0-0 draws.

    South Korea World Cup Squad

    Two Premier League players in their ranks in Tottenham’s Son Heung-min and Swansea’s Ki Heung-yeung. The former is a player of genuine quality and would fit into a lot of top European club sides. 

    South Korea Manager

    Shin Tae-yong – A former player with the national side winning 23 caps and scoring 3 goals. He pretty much played the entirety of his club career in South Korea before making one appearance in the Australian A-League. He has come under fire for performances in qualifying but is expected to still be the boss come June.

    South Korea World Cup History

    Nine finals appearances in a row! No other Asian team can boast the same and they also famously made the semi-finals of the tournament they co-hosted back in 2002.

  • GROUP G Preview - World Cup Russia 2018

    Belgium – Current Best Odds 12/1

    How did they qualify?

    The Red Devils qualified with ease from their qualifying group going undefeated throughout, winning 9 out their 10 games. Lukaku scored 11 goals in qualifying with only Ronaldo & Lewandowski scoring more in the group.

    Belgium World Cup Squad

    Their squad is littered with household names with Chelsea goalkeeper Courtois, Man City’s midfield maestro Kevin De Bruyne and Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku. Dries Mertens of Napoli has been on fire on the goalscoring front and is about to break the 40 goal mark in under two seasons.

    Belgium Manager

    Roberto Martinez – Championed as the man who laid the foundations for Swansea to reach the Premier League and guided Wigan to an unlikely FA Cup trophy in 2013, beating Man City in the final. He struggled to make any real impact at Everton where his defence consistently looked shaky but has better players at his disposal in this job.

    Despite an easy passage to the finals, there have been murmurs of discontent coming from the camp regarding Martinez. He was a surprise appointment to the position and it seems some players have questioned his tactical ability.

    Belgium World Cup History

    A country that has been touted as dark horses in their past two major tournaments but fell at the quarter-final stage in Brazil in 2014. Their best ever finish was fourth at the Mexico ’86.

    Panama – Current Best Odds 2000/1

    How did they qualify?

    Panama finished in the final automatic qualification spot in the CONCAFCAF qualifying. A final day win over Costa Rica proved to be a historic occasion as they qualified for their first finals ever.

    Panama World Cup Squad

    Their main man is central defender Roman Torres who plays in the MLS with Seattle Sounders. He scored the winner in their famous 2-1 win over Costa Rica.

    Panama Manager

    Hernan Dario Gomez - A controversial figure who was forced to resign from managing his native Colombia after an incident in which he attacked a woman outside a pub. He managed Colombia at the ’98 finals where they lost to England. He also led Ecuador to the finals in 2002.

    Panama World Cup History

    It’s Panama’s first ever appearance at the finals and they did so at the expense of the likes of USA and Honduras.

    Tunisia – Current Best Odds 750/1

    How did they qualify?

    Went unbeaten in their six games with their 2-1 win over Congo proving to be the decisive game as they finished ahead of them by 1 point.

    Tunisia World Cup Squad

    Youseff Msanki was their top scorer with 3 goals in qualifying, all coming against Guinea in a 4-1 victory, and plays in the Qatar Stars League. Wahbi Khazri is on loan at Rennes from Sunderland and has scored 5 goals in 9 appearances for them. Centre-back Aymen Abdennour is their highest performing player. He’s currently on loan at Marseilles from Valencia.

    Tunisia Manager

    Nabil Maaloul – Played for Tunisia over 70 times and is perhaps a little curiously in his second spell in charge after being sacked after just 7 games the first time. Nonetheless, he has managed to gain redemption and got his side to the finals.

    Tunisia World Cup History

    Their last time at a finals ended in elimination at the group stages in Germany 2006. A similar story in their previous three appearances before that so if they can somehow get out of the group stages, it will be historic.

    England – Current Best Odds 17/1

    How did they qualify?

    England easily qualified from their group as winners and went unbeaten winning eight games and drawing two. They began the campaign with Sam Allardyce as manager but he resigned following a leak about him offering advice on how to get around the FA’s third party ownership rule. Gareth Southgate took over and steadied the ship. He tried out new formations and gave starts to Ryan Bertrand & Jake Livermore during the campaign.

    England World Cup Squad

    There aren’t great expectations when it comes to this current English squad with a mix of average players in their late twenties and inexperienced youngsters. The likes of John Stones & Marcus Rashford are genuine quality with game time under their belts and Southgate has given senior debuts to the likes of Dominic Solanke of Liverpool & Ruben Loftus-Cheek in recent friendlies against Germany & Brazil.

    The fitness of Harry Kane will be vital come the end of May and there may have to be a decision made about who will be England’s number 1 come June.

    England Manager

    Gareth Southgate – A former English international player with 57 caps and played for England at the ’98 World Cup. He took over as manager of Middlesbrough when Steve McLaren left to become the England boss. His biggest win as ‘Boro manager was an 8-1 win over Manchester City in 2008!

    In the 08/09 season, Middlesbrough were relegated and Southgate stayed on but was eventually sacked in October despite the team being in fourth place in the Championship.

    He managed the England U-21s for three years before being put in temporary charge of the senior side after Allardyce’s departure. After four games in charge, he received a permanent contract lasting four years.

    England World Cup History

    Champions in 1966 when they hosted the tournament, their next best performance came in 1990 when they reached the semi-finals under Bobby Robson. Their last World Cup appearance was one to forget as they were knocked out in the group stages with Roy Hodgson in charge.

  • GROUP H Preview - World Cup Russia 2018

    Poland – Current Best Odds 50/1

    How did they qualify?

    Poland made relatively light work of finishing top of their group, although they were hammered 4-0 by Denmark on matchday 7 which did cause some doubts as to whether they may falter at the end. They picked themselves up and won their remaining three games. Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski scored an incredible 16 goals throughout the campaign.

    Poland World Cup Squad

    They possess one of the best forwards in the world in Lewandowski and rely on the experience and guile of midfielder Jakub Błaszczykowski who now plays at Wolfsburg following his time at Dortmund and a season at Fiorentina. Glik & Piszczek provide experience and quality in the backline.

    Poland Manager

    Adam Nawalka – A former player for the national team winning over 30 caps and played at the 1978 World Cup making it into the team of the tournament. He has managed in his native country for over a decade. He took over as Polish boss in 2013 and took a notable scalp in their Euro 2016 qualifier campaign by beating Germany 2-0 at home. He went on to lead the team to the quarter-finals in those championships.

    Poland World Cup History

    They have finished 3rd on two occasions, in 1974 & 1982. They are currently ranked sixth in the world and are fancied to go well in this World Cup with a squad full of experience at a high level of the game.

    Senegal – Current Best Odds 200/1

    How did they qualify?

    A quite favourable group for Senegal in qualifying as they were much too strong for the other three teams. They won four of their six games and drew the other two, both against 2nd placed Burkina Faso.

    Senegal World Cup Squad

    They have a strong looking team on paper with Liverpool’s Sadio Mane being the standout player. Idrissa Gueye provides some guile in midfield while West Ham’s duo of Diafra Sakho & Cheikhou Kouyate will be hoping they can turn their season around and hit some form in time for Russia.

    Senegal Manager

    Alliou Cisse – Former Birmingham & Portsmouth midfielder coached the U-23 side for a period of time before being offered the senior role in 2015.

    Senegal World Cup History

    Just their second finals with their first coming back in 2002. They managed to get to the quarter-finals back then with many of their players earning moves to big clubs following the tournament, remember El Hadji Diouf to Liverpool anyone?

    Colombia – Current Best Odds 40/1

    How did they qualify?

    Colombia qualified on the last day thanks to a 1-1 draw with Peru. Another 1-1 draw at home to Brazil on matchday 8 proved vital as they finished a point above the play-off spot.

    Columbia World Cup Squad

    James Rodriguez scored six goals in qualification and will be feeling much better following his move from Real Madrid to Bayern Munich. Juan Cuadrado is another quality player in midfield and up front Bacca of Villareal and Borja of Palmeiras can provide a viable goal threat.

    Columbia Manager

    Jose Pekerman – A successful youth team coach with Argentina and went on to manage the senior side at the 2006 tournament. Now a citizen of Colombia, he has been in charge since 2012 and helped them reach their first finals in 16 years by reaching the 2014 tournament. They won all three group stage matches and beat Uruguay in the last 16 before losing to Brazil in the quarter-finals.

    Columbia World Cup History

    Reached their first finals in 16 years last time out and also produced their best ever display by getting to the quarter-finals.

    Japan – Current Best Odds 300/1

    How did they qualify?

    Japan finished with twenty points out of a possible thirty at the top the group ahead of Saudi Arabia and Australia. They suffered just two defeats with the second one coming on the final day when they had already qualified.

    Japan World Cup Squad

    Shinji Kagawa and Leicester forward Shinji Okazaki are quality players and offer invaluable experience at a high level. Keisuke Honda now plays in Mexico with Pachuca but played over eighty games for AC Milan. Takuma Asano has been on loan from Arsenal at Stuttgart for two seasons now. He helped Stuttgart win promotion to the Bundesliga last season and has scored 3 goals for the Japan senior side.

    Japan Manager

    Vahid Halilhodzic – A striker who had spells playing in France with Nantes & PSG. He scored over 90 goals for Nantes and played for Yugoslavia in the 1982 tournament. He has managed Lille, PSG and Dinamo Zagreb at club level. He was manager of Ivory Coast and led them to qualification for the 2010 tournament but was sacked four months before it because they were knocked out by Algeria in the quarter-finals of the African Nations Cup.

    Funnily enough, he took over as Algeria coach in 2011 and led them to Brazil 2014 where they achieved their best finals performance, making it to the last 16 where they lost to eventual winners Germany in extra-time.

    Japan World Cup History

    This will be Japan’s sixth consecutive finals appearance after their first successful qualification for the ’98 tournament. They’ve made it to the knockout stages twice including when they co-hosted the tournament in 2002 with South Korea.

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