The 2018 FIFA World Cup gets under way in Russia on Thursday 14th June and concludes with the Final on 15th July. The 2014 World Cup was watched by an estimated 3 billion people worldwide and that figure is expected to be surpassed this year. UK Bookmakers have estimated that £1billion will have been gambled on the tournament by the time it reaches its conclusion.
32 teams will compete in eight groups of four with the top two from each group going through to the knockout stages.
Group Stages Preview
Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
Uruguay are favorites to win the group ahead of the host nation, Russia. All eyes will be on newly-crowned Premier League footballer of the year Mohamed Salah of Liverpool and Egypt.
Player to watch: Mohamed Salah (Egypt)
Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran
The match everyone wants to see here is Spain’s clash with 2016 European Champions Portugal. Ronaldo’s side will be underdogs but both teams are expected to qualify comfortably for the knockout stages.
Player to watch: Ronaldo (Portugal)
Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
Many pundits are tipping France to win the tournament and Denmark look likely to prove their only serious opposition in Group C.
Player to watch: Antoine Griezmann (France)
Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
Lionel Messi is expected to fire Argentina into the last sixteen but they face a tricky encounter with Croatia. Iceland need no introduction after embarrassing England in the European Championships!
Player to watch: Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
Brazil are expected to be in cruise control in Group E but it could be tight between the Swiss and Serbia for the second qualifying spot.
Player to watch: Neymar (Brazil)
Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
Germany perform like a well-oiled machine at the major Championships and few will want to oppose them in Group F. Mexico and Sweden should battle out the runners-up spot.
Player to watch: Thomas Muller (Germany)
Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England
Belgium’s “Golden Generation” is yet to deliver at a major championship but could this be their year? England fans will be hoping not as they prepare to face familiar foes Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku.
Player to watch: Eden Hazard (Belgium)
Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan
Poland and Colombia look the two set to progress from Group H. Polish striker Robert Lewandowski is being linked with a possible summer move to the Premier League and his performance will be closely watched.
Player to watch: Robert Lewandowski (Poland)
World Cup Tournament Betting Odds
Five-time winner Brazil, and reigning champions Germany are the pre-tournament favorites at around 9-2, closely followed by Spain and France at 6-1. Argentina and Belgium are generally priced at 10-1 with England at 16-1. You can get odds of 25-1 or better about any other team winning the tournament.
Be wary of betting each-way on the World Cup as most bookmakers are only paying out on the winners and runners-up. If your team is beaten in the final, you will be paid at half the odds. One or two sports betting companies are offering ¼ odds for the first four i.e. your team would only need to reach the semi-finals to guarantee a return on the place part of your each-way bet.
You can also bet on the outright winners and two qualifiers from any group. Alternatively, you can bet on a team not to qualify or even to finish bottom of their group!
World Cup Match Betting
Match Betting is big business at International tournaments and there are multiple markets on every match at the World Cup. As well as betting on the outright winner or forecasting the correct score-line, there are betting markets on the half-time score, both teams to score, total goals and winning margin.
Some of the games may appear one-sided on paper but you can back your team to win by 2 or more goals or your star player to score two or more goals. Do not ignore the option of betting on a draw, particularly in the Group stages. Some group positions could already be decided going into the final round of matches and this often produces a higher percentage of drawn games. You can also eliminate the draw by betting in the “Draw No Bet” market, although the odds for the winning teams will obviously be shorter.
The first goal scorer of any match is a popular market but it is always best to wait until you know the final team selection. You can also back any player to score at any time during the game. The chances of this happening are obviously much greater but this is reflected in the odds on offer. A useful tip here is to take a note of the regular penalty taker for each side. They may not be having a great match but could find themselves presented with a spot kick at any time.
World Cup In-Play Betting
Live Betting is available on every match at the World Cup. A strong market is guaranteed with extensive TV coverage. You will need a fast and reliable Internet connection and also be prepared to make quick decisions. Most of the leading sites now have their own app which makes it easy for you to bet live on most devices. Live betting can be extremely volatile as one goal or a red card can change the odds dramatically.
A relatively new develop in live sports betting is the option to “cash-out”. For example, you may have bet on a particular score-line and it is correct going into the last fifteen minutes. You can either let the match run its course and hope that there are no more goals, or “cash-out” at reduced odds to take a profit.
World Cup Special Bets
As well as the traditional outright winner and match betting markets, there will be a host of other betting opportunities during the 2018 World Cup. The more ambitious punters may try and name the finalists with odds of 14-1 and upwards available on any given combination.
You might fancy a bet on the Golden Boot or the Golden Glove competitions, for leading tournament scorer and best goalkeeper award respectively. England Captain Harry Kane is 16-1 to be highest goal scorer while Manchester United and Spain ‘keeper David de Gea is just 4-1 to win the Golden Glove. Everyone loves to support their Premier League players during the World Cup but Lionel Messi and Neymar predictably dominate the Golden Boot market. The 2014 leading scorer was Colombia’s James Rodriguez with six.
Take care not to confuse the Golden Boot (Top goal scorer) with the Golden Ball (Best Player award). FIFA present a short list to representatives of the media who will then vote on the Golden Ball winner. Messi won this coveted prize in 2014. There are also markets on the Best Asian, African and European Team and even the lowest scoring team!
Bookmaker World Cup Special offers
Bookmakers will be going all out to attract new customers during the month-long competition. They will be hoping that England stay in the tournament as long as possible to generate further interest. Special odds for new customers include a very tempting 50-1 England to reach the knockout stages and 100-1 Brazil to win! These special offers are restricted to new customers only with a maximum stake of £1.
The special offers don’t end there and it is well worth your while checking the odds comparison sites. If you are planning on adding a little excitement to the World Cup by betting on your team or on selected matches, it is worth considering opening more than one account. This will give you the chance to pick the best odds and there is no better time to open a new account! Do make sure that you read the terms and conditions of the special promotions carefully. As well as limiting your stake, any winnings can sometimes be paid out only as free bets and/or within a strict time limit.
There will also be plenty of offers for existing customers running throughout the tournament. One firm is offering a million pound pay-out to the punter who places a winning bet at the biggest odds. There are also daily prizes and enhanced odds on individual players and matches. The 2018 World Cup promises to be a thrilling festival of top quality football. By taking advantage of the special offers and choosing your bets wisely, you can increase your chances of making a few pounds along the way!
Content Authored by Harvey Mayson