World Cup

On this page you find articles on World Cup and sports betting in general.

Who will embarrass England at the 2018 World Cup?

World Cup Betting
While England will have a genuinely tough battle at the World Cup 2018 in the group stage against Belgium, their other two group match against Tunisia and Panama are expected to be won by the Three Lions. But are Gareth Southgate’s men in any danger of being embarrassed in the group stage? Frankly, this is not about pessimism, it is about a beat of realism because their track record in major international tournaments isn’t great.

Track record of failures

Look at their European Championship campaign two years ago. A 1-1 draw with Russia, a last-minute win over Wales and then a 0-0 draw with Slovakia. Then their big crash in the round of sixteen against Iceland. They didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory there. Four years ago at the 2014 World Cup, it was even worse for them as they limped out of the group stage with just the one point from their three games. The defeats against Italy and Uruguay were hard to swallow yes, but at least they were against average quality opponents. But their 0-0 draw with Costa Rica in their final match summed them up, no fight and no desire, combined with a lack of quality saw them go home with their tails tucked well and truly between their legs. Go back a further four years to the 2010 World Cup and you may recall their 1-1 draw with the USA, their 0-0 draw with Algeria and then their 1-0 struggle against Slovenia. So it’s not as if England haven’t been without their embarrassing results recently at major tournaments. Which makes the fact that they are taking on two relative minnows at the World Cup all that more nerve-wracking. The Three Lions should be going out and comfortably beating Panama and Tunisia but there is still an air of trepidation and all confidence is surely tinged with a drop or two of doubt about whether or not the Three Lions will actually be able to turn out the points. England’s first test at the World Cup comes against Tunisia on June 18th and the Three Lions are 1/3 odds-on favourites at Bet365* (betting odds taken on March 5th, 2018 at 5:00 p.m.) to win that fixture. England went up against Tunisia at France ‘98 in the group stage and took a 2-0 win thanks to Alan Shearer and Paul Scholes getting on the scoresheet. Tunisia are currently ranked 23rd in the world and from their four previous World Cup appearances they have never managed to get past the group stage. In fact, their record is W1 D4 L7 from their twelve previous World Cup matches. Not a threat but the African nation are likely going to be the ones who will come the closest to embarrassing England. We’re not suggesting that The Eagles of Carthage are going to go out and beat the Three Lions. However England weren’t a high scoring side in qualification against some average looking opposition and you wonder if they have the clinical finishing in them to see off a side who are likely just going to turn out and be as stubborn of a defensive side as they can be. England should have fewer troubles against Panama because the quality of their defence and overall ability isn’t there compared to that of even Tunisia. They are making their debut in the competition and it is except that they will be going away from the experience without a point and without a goal. It just appears to be one of those World Cup games which not even England can stuff up. England take on Panama on June 24th and they are 4/5 odds at bet365 to win to nil* (betting odds taken on March 5th, 2018 at 5:00 p.m.).    England are 11/5 odds at bet365* (betting odds taken on March 5th, 2018 at 5:00 p.m.) to go home at the stage of last sixteen and are a massive 7/1 to screw things up royally and go home at the group stage. They should be in the round of sixteen. Can they get there without embarrassment?
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World Cup Time – result statistics

Cyril's Betting Advice
The goalscoring situation has never again reached the heights of '54. In fact as the number of teams competing in each Finals has grown from the '54 figure of 16 the goals average per game has remained below 3. This does defy logic as the more teams there are in the Finals the more goals should be expected. Especially as the number of Finalists has increased, the newcomers have left a lot to be desired, where ability is concerned. Consequently more high scoring games should be expected. Unfortunately that is not the case. Do too many sides have the Greece attitude? The current formation of 32 teams has run for the last four Finals and the goalscoring abilities of teams seems to be pretty much in line with previous set-ups. Perhaps a look at individual game scores in the last four Finals might be of some help. The first round games over the four last Finals have goal totals as follows 0 - 0 16 1 - 0 21 0 - 1 18 1 - 1 25 2 - 0 16 0 - 2 12 2 - 1 15 1 - 2 10 2 - 2 13 3 - 0   5 0 - 3   6 3 - 1   7 1 - 3   5 3 - 2   4 2 - 3   2 3 - 3   1 There were 16 other scores, ranging from 2 - 5 to 8 - 0 .  
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  Breaking these figures down, there were 144 matches that finished UNDER 3.5 goals (75%) with 48 games going OVER 3.5 goals. The group stage is followed by the knock-out Round of 16. 0 - 0 3 1 - 0 6 0 - 1 2 1 - 1 5 2 - 0 2 0 - 2 1 2 - 1 4 1 - 2 0 2 - 2 1 3 - 0 2 0 - 3 1 3 - 1 1 1 - 3 1 4 - 1 2 1 - 4 1 It is quite evident that the group stage gets rid of most of the "make-weights". Of these thirty-two matches, twenty-six, (81.25%) ended under 3.5 goals. The quarter-finals were even more competitive. Only two of the sixteen matches going Over 3.5 goals.(Leaving 87.5% as UNDERS). These included 0 - 0 x4, 0 - 1, 1 - 1 and 2 - 1 each returned twice. The semi-finals, third place and final were all fairly close affairs. A total of sixteen matches returning 4 games OVER 3.5 GOALS. The other scores included 0 - 0, 1 - 0, 0 - 1 and 1 - 1 returned twice each and four other scores of 0 - 2, 2 - 1, 1 - 2 and 3 - 0. As far as researching goes these stats are just a drop in the ocean. However going even further back when there were fewer teams competing there is very little difference in goals scoring habits. The present set-up is a little overladen with no-hopers but given his way Sepp Blatter has hinted at further increases could be on the way. God save us from this man.
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World Cup Time – a brief history

Cyril's Betting Advice
It doesn't seem like three years since the last World Cup. Nevertheless the final 32 have been bagged and drawn. So next July we can look forward to 64 matches of tension and excitement. Well in some of them, at least. This will be the TWENTIETH WORLD CUP FINALS. There were three competitions held before World War 2. Looking at the total attendances there wasn't all that much interest outside the competing countries. From a total of 53 matches there were only 1,329,249 spectators. An average of only 25,080 per match. These figures paled in significance when the 1950 finals took place in Brazil. Over 1 million watched the 22 games at an average per game of 47,511. This resurgence didn't last, and the next time spectator totals topped the million mark was in good old Blighty in 1966. The increase of almost 50% in spectators showed us that football really had come home. Altogether 1,563,135 watched 32 games at an average of 48,4848. This was the start of a real return to football by spectators and the total had been bettered in 10 of the subsequent Finals. Argentina in 1978 being the odd man out by some 18,00.  
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  When played in America in 1994 almost three and a half million spectators saw 52 matches at an average of 69,00 per game. These figures still stand even when allowing that the four subsequent Finals were increased from 24 teams to 32 and playing 64 matches. This format is in use in the present competition. This brief history sets the scene for the more important things in the punters life. Finding the games to bet on and hopefully make some cash. When the first Finals were played in 1930 there were an average of 3.89 goals this increased for the next two Finals being 4.12 followed by 4.67 before dropping back to 4.00 in the 1950 Finals. Then 1954 produced a goal feast. The average per game over the competition was 5.38 from 26 matches. Sadly it has been downhill from that point. Hitting an all time low of 2.21 in, where else than Italy. The 2010 Finals didn't fair much better with just an average of 2,27 goals per game. A grand total of 145 goals from 64 matches. 26 goals less than the best ever total of 171 in 1998 in France.
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England starting eleven at the 2018 World Cup – according to the odds

Kane (England)
After the busy international break period, England boss Gareth Southgate should have a clearer picture of just who he is sticking on the plane to head to Russia in the summer. Across the two friendly matches against the Netherlands and Itay, Southgate had a good look at some of the options available to him. England beat the Dutch in Amsterdam thanks to a strike from Jesse Lingard, and they were looking well set to beat Italy back at Wembley a few days later until the VAR disrupted everything and gave the Azzurri a late penalty which they converted for a 1-1 draw. That was a bit of a sour finish to an otherwise positive couple of matches. It looks as if Southgate is going to be sticking with Jordan Pickford between the sticks in Russia after heaping praise on his ability to play the ball out from the back. Pickford actually started the move which led to Lingard's goal against the Dutch. Lingard, himself looks as if he could be a key man for the Three Lions in the summer after looking a good fit with the way that Southgate wants England to play. However, despite impressing in both games, Lingard, according to odds at bookmaker Ladbrokes, may not make it on to the starting eleven for England's first World Cup game which is against Tunisia. Looking at the shortest priced players to start England’s first World Cup, the line up would be: GK – Jordan Pickford – 8/11 CB – John Stones – 1/5 CB – Harry Maguire – 2/1 CB – Kyle Walker – 1/12 RWB – Kieran Trippier – EVS LWB – Danny Rose – 10/11 CM – Eric Dier – 5/6 CM – Jordan Henderson – 5/6 CAM – Raheem Sterling – 1/10 CAM – Dele Alli – 1/4 ST – Harry Kane – 1/10 Finding some creativity in midfield is Southgate's biggest issue. He is not going to get it from Dier and Henderson, and with Jack Wilshere's injury problems, the Arsenal man isn't likely to be in the picture for a start. The other thing about the odds is that Dele Alli was benched for both of the recent friendly games, so would Lingard get in ahead of him? Barring injury, Kane, Sterling, Stones and Walker all look absolute locks to be in that first eleven. Filling out the back three is another area that Southgate will have so thinking to do. Will he put trust in young Harry Maguire to perform alongside John Stones who is liable to make the odd mistake or three? Or will someone with more experience like Chelsea's Gary Cahill or Phil Jones be able to work their way back in? England's opening game is against Tunisia on June 18th.
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England World Cup 2018 Stage of Elimination Odds

World Cup Betting
How far can England go at the World Cup 2018? Their odds of winning the tournament outright were trimmed when they received a favourable draw in the group stage. The Three Lions avoided the tournament heavyweights such as Brazil and Argentina in the draw and the top-seeded team in their group will be Belgium, who are ranked 5th in the world, but still, they could be manageable for the Three Lions. England does have a strong head to head record against the Red Devils and either way, really, Gareth Southgate’s men should find themselves in the next round of the competition without too much of a sweat. Joining them in Group G are debutantes Panama and African representatives Tunisia. England are huge 6/1 price at BetVictor to suffer the same fate as they did four years ago when they failed to get out their group which contained Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica. That was a major failure for them, and with their disappointing exit at the hands of Iceland in the knockout stage of Euro 2016 as well, the country needs to produce a good tournament for themselves to restore a bit of faith and belief. So England would have to royally screw up not to get out of the group. The position is, of course, is going to be all important for them when it comes to the knockout stage of the tournament. If they win the group then they will go on the bottom half of the group where they would likely be joined by Spain, Argentina and Germany, or if they finish runners up to Belgium in the group stage, then they would go to the top half of the draw where they would likely be joined by Russia, France and Brazil. Ultimately there is no easy path to the World Cup Final of course.

Stage of Elimination

But an easy group stage gives them the chance to get a little bit of momentum going and the round of sixteen is where things are going to get interesting for the Three Lions. If they are the Group G winners then they would face the runners up of Group H and if they are runners up in Group G then they play the winners of Group H. So who is in Group H? That will be Poland, Senegal, Colombia and Japan. So there is going to be a tricky game for England in the first knockout stage, but it could have been a lot worse of a draw for them. Poland would be tough, but manageable and the Poles, of course, have Robert Lewandowski who will threaten any defence. They also finished level on points with Germany in the group stage of Euro 2016 remember and would be a difficult opponent for England. So too would Colombia who may not be too well suited to the conditions out in Russia for their game, Senegal got through their qualification group undefeated and have Liverpool’s star man Sadio Mane in their ranks. Japan, who don’t have good form in the finals, are unlikely to get themselves out of the group stage. England are trading at 11/8 with BetVictor to get eliminated at the Last 16 stage. Things would get a lot tougher of course because that is the stage where potentially group winners from thcan meet. The Three Lions could be meeting either Brazil or Germany in the quarter finals and the Three Lions are 11/4 to find themselves heading home at the quarter final stage. Then you will see the price go up drastically on England making significant progress. The Three Lions are 9/2 at BetVictor to exit at the semi final stage and they are a 12/1 poke to finish as runners up at the tournament. England are seventh favourites to win the tournament outright at a price of 16/1, but realistically that is an exaggerated price just because of the easy group stage draw that they received. That’s not going to help them down the line in getting past the better teams and getting through those tougher tests. A quarter final exit looks the most probable outcome.
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World Cup Betting 2018 Groups Draw & Winner Odds

World Cup Betting
The 21st World Cup will kick off in Russia in the middle of June 2018 and the 32 qualified nations know what lies ahead of them in the group stage. The draw for the World Cup 2018 was made in early December 2017, giving teams and fans plenty of time to get ready for the tournament. Heading back to the World Cup as the reigning champions is Germany who are running as 5/1 outright favourites with Betfair to go and collect another title. The tournament is played across eleven cities in Russia and across several different time zones as well. In order to keep things manageable though, cities in the east of the country are not being used and only one of twelve venues (Yekaterinburg) are east of the Ural mountains, the range which splits the country down the middle. World Cup 2018 Groups Draw Infographic

Tournament Debutants

Twenty of the nations who were at the 2014 World Cup will be making back to back appearances having qualified for this one. But there will be two nations making their World Cup debuts at the 2018 edition and they are Iceland and Panama. Iceland topped out their qualification group against the odds and after their stunning success with a powerful run at Euro 2016, they rode their wave of progression to become the smallest nation ever to make it through to the World Cup. Panama, with a lot of drama and a lot of luck, beat out the USA to make it through to their first ever World Cup

The Draw

The usual format for the World Cup will ensue in this edition as well, with the 32 nations split over eight groups. After a round robin format, the top two teams from each group will be making their way through to the knockout stage of the competition. If teams finish level on points in a group then goal difference will come into play and then if that is even between teams, the decider will be the number of goals scored in all group matches. The slots for the knockout stages of the competitions have been set because the positions for the round of sixteen are set. The winners of Group A will play the runners up of Group B and vice versa, and so on through the groups. So if you are expecting a certain team to win a group, such as Brazil winning Group E, then you can see where they would be placed for the knockout stage of the draw and what kind of path they have may have to go through to get to the final.

Full Group Stage Draw (seeds in bold)

Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan

World Cup Betting Odds

Germany 5/1, Brazil 5/1, France 6/1, Spain 15/2, Argentina 9/1, Belgium 12/1, England 16/1, Portugal 25/1, Russia 33/1, Uruguay 33/1, Colombia 33/1, Croatia 40/1, Poland 40/1, Denmark 80/1, Switzerland 80/1, 100/1 bar

England Odds

The Three Lions really could not have received a better draw than the one that they did get. They avoided the biggest of the seeded teams that they could have been drawn against and they have landed themselves in what should be a two-way race for top spot against Belgium. England are 11/8 second favourites at Betfair behind the Red Devils to finish top of their group, with Belgium, who are the fifth ranked team in the world, trading at odds-on of 10/11. Naturally, it is Tottenham’s Harry Kane who is the 5/4 favourite to be the top scorer for the Three Lions at the tournament. The England stage of elimination market is pretty vibrant and popular and the Last 16 is the shortest priced option at a price of 11/5. Depending on where they finish in the group, first or second, they would be playing someone from Group H which contains Poland, Senegal, Colombia or Japan in the round of sixteen.

The Favourites

There are five teams trading in single figures to win the World Cup 2017 and they are Germany, Brazil, France, Spain and Argentina. Germany produced a stunning qualification campaign by winning all ten of their matches, averaging over four goals per game and conceding just the four goals themselves in ten games. They will once again be a force to be reckoned with and they are blessed with tremendous depth as they showed with their C-squad pretty much winning the Confederations Cup in the summer of 2017. The Brazilians made light work of their CONMEBOL qualification campaign, without a doubt the most difficult qualification zone in the world. They breezed it and with the likes of Gabriel Jesus and Neymar, they will be a major force. France arguably have the most talented, the deepest squad of everyone at the tournament. They have an abundance of riches going on at the moment and no-one is going to want to face them. There is a tremendous array of talent that they can call upon, but will they have the mental fortitude to grind it out when things get a little tough, as tournament football often can do? Spain have benefitted from a nice position in the draw as if they win their group they get an easy opponent from Group A in the round of sixteen. They would first have to get through European champions Portugal first in their group. They have a lot to prove after their misfire four years ago and then again at Euro 2016. Then there is Argentina. They really struggled to get through their qualification campaign, as they could barely hit the back of the net. Because they went on the drift in the World Cup outright winner market, punters have taken a chance on them. Despite their lack of scoring in the qualification campaign, they have an attack-minded manager in Jorge Sampaoli so it will be interesting to see how they approach the tournament. With the pressure of qualification off, can Sampaoli pull things together and get La Albiceleste going for World Cup?

Prediction

Spain are appealing because of their draw, but ultimately they are not the force that they were and may fall short. Argentina have a lot prove, despite having tremendous talent in their squad, so the favouritism has to fall towards either Germany or Brazil really. It is questionable as to whether or not Brazil really have a Plan B up their sleeve and just because of the sheer depth of talent that the Germans can bring to the table, there could be a momentous occasion in becoming just the third nation ever to successfully retain the title (Italy 1934 and 1938, Brazil 1958-1962). So Germany goes as our tip at 9/1 with Betfair while our dark horse will be Poland. At Euro 2016 they match Germany in their group stage campaign and they have Robert Lewandowski and the geographical situation won’t be too unfamiliar for them really. Given that they could face a decent draw in the round of sixteen, they could make a splash.
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England cut to 16/1 in World Cup 2018 betting after favourable draw

World Cup Betting
England received a fantastic draw for the 2018 World Cup after luck was really on the side. The draw for next summer’s football festival was made on Friday, December 1st in Moscow and with England in danger of pulling out someone like Brazil, Argentina or Germany, things really didn’t up too badly for the Three Lions. They were drawn against Belgium in Group G, one of the seeded teams for the tournament and then came along Tunisia and Panama. So it really should be easy pickings for the Three Lions and a huge chance for the nation to make amends for their major failure at the last World Cup to even get out of the group stage when they were drawn against Italy, Costa Rica and Uruguay. The favourable draw has seen Stan James trim England to 16/1 to win the World Cup next summer because they will get a pretty comfortable passage through to the knockout stages. However, down the line in winning the group, they could still meet Colombia, Brazil, France and then Germany in the final. If they finish second to Belgium they would have to go through Poland, Germany, Spain and then Brazil to win the tournament. So getting to the Final itself isn’t going to be an easy thing for the Three Lions whichever way you look at it. But they are now at 1/4 to qualify for the knockout stage of Russia 2018 and then in the round of sixteen their potential opponents could be Poland, Senegal, Colombia or Japan and again, there were far worse scenarios out there that England could have been projected ahead into at that stage. England are second favourites at 7/5 to win Group G with Belgium going as clear favourites as they are ranked fifth in the world at the moment. That group decider will happen in the final group stage match when the two European nations meet up. Betway have tossed out a price of 7/1 on England failing to get out of the group stage, which for the Three Lions begins against Tunisia on June 18th, before meeting World Cup debutants Panama on June 24th. Already England are 4/7 odds on favourites to beat African representatives Tunisia, who are 6/1 to topple Gareth Southgate's men. Other early betting options on England at the World Cup 2018 are 9/2 on them to get through the group without conceding a single goal and they are 7/1 with Betfred to get through to the next stage with three wins from three. England’s Harry Kane is the 6/4 favourite to be England’s top scorer at the tournament and 16/1 to win the Golden Boot. Brazil and the reigning champions Germany are still at the head of the market at 5/1 with Stan James but both have quietly interesting groups. Germany gets to go against Mexico, Sweden and South Korea while the Selecao faces up to Switzerland, Serbia and Costa Rica. France are hovering at the 6/1 mark to win the World Cup 2018 and they received a pretty handy draw in going against Peru, Denmark and Australia. Spain have been cut a little bit into 15/2 despite being drawn with reigning European Champions Portugal in the group stage. If La Roja wins that group then they will get an easy round of sixteen tie against someone from Group A, which is arguably the weakest of the groups containing Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay and Egypt. Argentina drifted in World Cup betting to 9/1 as they go against Nigeria, Croatia and Iceland but are in the most difficult section of the tournament.

World Cup 2018 draw

Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan

World Cup Betting Odds

Germany 5/1, Brazil 5/1, France 6/1, Spain 15/2, Argentina 9/1, Belgium 12/1, England 16/1, Portugal 25/1, Russia 33/1, Uruguay 33/1, Colombia 33/1, Croatia 40/1, Poland 40/1, Denmark 80/1, Switzerland 80/1, 100/1 bar
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World Cup 2018 Betting Odds & UEFA Play Off Preview

World Cup Betting
Twenty three of the 32 World Cup finalists are known now and next month's qualifiers from UEFA will see four more of those spots filled. November will also bring about the close of the qualification campaign from Africa and then there are also intercontinental ties to be contested as well from other Confederations. Three notable names that will not be attending the tournament next summer are the USA, African champions Cameroon and the Netherlands. In World Cup 2018 outright winner odds following the bulk of the qualification process having been completed, France are the ones who have received some pretty strong backing. They are in at a price of 5/1 with Ladbrokes now to go and claim the trophy next summer, which puts them at level standing with the reigning world champions Germany who will be out to defend their title. England, after a thoroughly underwhelming qualification campaign, are at 20/1 the same price as Italy who haven’t even qualified yet. Brazil, who made light work of qualifying from CONMEBOL, the toughest qualification zone in the world, are not far behind the two of them at a price of 6/1 with Spain at 7/1 just beyond them. The only other nation to be under double figures in World Cup 2018 betting at the time of writing is Argentina. Despite only booking qualification on the final match day of their campaign, inspired by Lionel Messi and with time for new coach Jorg Sampaoli to get them going, the Albiceleste have taken the fancy of punters.

European Qualifiers Play Off Draw

The play off round of qualifying from UEFA has been made and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland both know what lies ahead for the times which will be played November 9th and 14th. The seeded teams were Denmark, Switzerland, Italy and Croatia.

Northern Ireland v Switzerland

Despite such a great qualification campaign, Northern Ireland weren’t ranked high enough to be one of the four seeded teams in the draw. After finishing second in their qualification group behind Germany, the Irish start at Windsor Park in this tie with Switzerland and this is not an easy tie for them. Switzerland won nine of their ten qualification games and only dropped into second place with a defeat against Portugal in their final match, which was a blow for them. Northern Ireland will have seen the Swiss lose a friendly against the Republic of Ireland last year. The Irish are 2/1 underdogs To Qualify at Ladbrokes, with the Swiss in at 4/11.

Croatia v Greece

Croatia couldn’t muscle their way to top spot in Group I of qualification, with the underdogs Iceland coming through to win the group. Croatia got a telling win in their final qualification match against the Ukraine to book the second spot and get into the play offs. Greece had  their struggles in Group H where they finished runners up to the powerful Belgian side, who they weren't even close to catching. The question in this one will be whether or not the Greeks will be able to produce the goals against a very solid Croatian defence? Croatia are 4/11 at Ladbrokes To Qualify, leaving Greece as 2/1 underdogs.

Denmark v Republic of Ireland

It is going to be important for the Irish not to concede out in Denmark in the first leg. The Irish were another of the spies who only booked qualification in their final group stage match. They went to Wales and edged a necessary victory to get through and at the same time deny the Welsh a top-two finish. Denmark finished second in their group, five points back of Poland and despite a win over the Polish in the campaign, they don’t look a tremendous threat. This is probably going to be the tightest of the play off ties and the gritty Irish who are even money at Ladbrokes To Qualify with the Danes in at 8/11.

Sweden v Italy

This is the high profile clash and everyone else in the play offs will have been happy to avoid either of these. The Swedes are part of the reason why the Netherlands won’t be at the World Cup as the Swedes took second place in their group behind France. Italy couldn’t make it through automatically because of having had to deal with Spain in their group, the Azzurri suffering a crucial away defeat against the Spaniards and slipping to a draw against Macedonia. That was the only thing splitting the two nations in the group as Spain dropped just two points in a draw in Italy. The Italians do look the stronger of the two squads though and they are 2/5 at Ladbrokes To Qualify with the Swedes at 7/4.
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FIFA to expand World Cup to 48 teams from 2026

World Cup Betting
FIFA announced this week that the World Cup is going to be expanded to a new 48 team format after a voting session decided to expand the event. It won’t happen immediately of course, but from 2026 the world will be watching in on a bigger tournament. The voted to expand was passed unanimously in Zurich on Tuesday this week. The expansion up to 48 teams from 32 as it stands now, will mean that the number of games at a tournament will of course increase. There will 80 matches as opposed to the 64 that are currently played in the World Cup format. However, the eventual winners won’t be exposed to extra games, there will still only be seven games needed to win the World Cup. FIFA President Gianni Infantino announced that because of the expansion, the tournament won’t be played over a longer period, a worry of top European clubs. The tournament will go over a busy 32 day period so that the intentional schedule doesn’t drag on over that particular summer. This is the first time since 1998 that the World Cup has undergone changes to its format. From the 2026 World Cup there will be an initial stage of 16 groups of three teams which will precede the knockout stage of the remaining 32 teams in the tournament, which will be the top two from each of the 16 groups. While the expansion will naturally pull in some of the smaller nations to the big stage, opposers of the plans cite that it will be diluting the natural competitiveness of the tournament even further.

2018 FIFA World Cup Betting Odds

Germany 9/2, Brazil 8/1, Argentina 8/1, France 8/1, Spain 9/1, Belgium 14/1, Italy 16/1, England 16/1, Portugal 28/1, 33/1 bar Online betting site Bet365 offer great 0-0 bore draw insurance on matches which you can take advantage of. Place a pre-match correct score, scorecast or half time/full time wager on a match and if the game ends goalless then the bookmaker will refund lost stakes on the selected markets with a free bet. This applies to all matches in their sportsbook. Register an account with the award winning Bet365 and earn a 100% matched deposit bonus from them and enjoy top features like live sports streams, extensive live in play betting and partial cash out options on live bets.
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World Cup Qualification 2018 Groups Europe – Betting Odds & Predictions

World Cup Betting
The two year road to the World Cup Finals in Russia starts this month for the UEFA members. Qualification gets under way and there are a total of 54 teams in the hunt for a spot at the tournament in 2018. The qualification draw was separated out over six seeding pots and the teams were then dealt out into nine groups of six teams each. 52 nations were actually in the seedings but then with FIFA accepting both Gibraltar and Kosovo as members in mid 2016, they were both allowed to join qualification as well. So the set up for all of this is that the winners of each of the nine groups will automatically get their spot in the 2018 FIFA World Cup and then the best eight runners up from the group stage will go into the play off round. So there is a long quest to get the Finals and the top nine seeded nations in the draw, therefore being separated out into one for each group are Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, England, Wales, Spain and Croatia. One the group stage has been settled the draw for the play off round will be held in October of 2017.

World Cup Qualification Groups 2018 Europe

FIFA World Cup Qualification 2018 Europe Infographic Euro 2016 qualification was a huge success for the home nations, with England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland all making it to the Finals. How many of the home nations will make it through to the World Cup Finals? Will there be a full house? Four of the five would be another fantastic return for the UK and Ireland. Here we preview the qualification groups from the UEFA Zone for World Cup 2018 qualification. Group A Netherlands, France, Sweden, Bulgaria, Belarus, Luxembourg Well this is an interesting group and it would be a sparse if the French didn’t roll to top spot in it. Les Bleus almost landed the Euro 2016 title on home soil and on the evidence of that short burst of competitive football for them, they looked as if they still had some room to grow. So this could be a big two years for them in their development not having had to play qualifying games to get to the European Championships. The Netherlands are in there as well and it will be really interesting to see if they can pick themselves up after their miserable qualification campaign for Euro 2016. They may not still be at the races and that could leave a scrap between themselves and Sweden to battle for second spot. The Swedes are entering the post-Ibrahimovic era and may struggle. France to win the group at 8/13, Netherlands for second. Group B Portugal, Switzerland, Hungary, Faro Island, Latvia, Andorra The reigning European Champions Portugal will have to be pretty happy with the draw that they have received. They really have little threat going against them in here and that is reflected in the price of 8/13 for them to win the group. Switzerland are their closest challengers in there but rarely raise themselves above mediocrity, although they are usually pretty solid in qualification. Hungary, who impressed at Euro 2016 have to start again and while they are capable of points at home against the Portuguese and Swiss, are likely to miss the boat in this one. Everyone else in the group is just there making up the numbers. Not likely to be the most entertaining of groups. Group C Germany, Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Norway, Azerbaijan, San Marino The huge benefit of being a top seeded team is obviously getting easier qualification draws. That is what Germany have here. They may have stubborn defences in the likes of Northern Ireland and Norway to break down, but they are Germany and should get it done, particularly at home. The Germans are a massive 1/8 odds on favourite to win this group and any other outcome looks like it would take something out of the ordinary to happen. The Czech Republic aren’t good enough to really lay claim to the top spot in the group but could see themselves in a fight with Northern Ireland and Norway for second place. Northern Ireland are a big 10/1 shot to make it out of the group. Group D Wales, Austria, Serbia, Republic of Ireland, Moldova, Georgia This is one of the more competitive groups that are floating around in the qualification for the World Cup from the UEFA Zone. Wales, who covered themselves in glory at Euro 2016 by reaching the semi finals are an even money quote to qualify from Group D. They are running as 7/4 favourites to win this group, but punters will still be bit wary because of the lack of goals from them and wondering if their bubble will have burst after the Euros. There is stiff competition from the technically solid Serbia, the young and enterprising Austria as well as having to do battle with the Republic of Ireland who are only 11/4 to qualify. On paper out of the bunch of them Serbia at 5/2 represents great value here to top the pile, but the Austrians can’t be counted out. They are way better than how they played at Euro 2016. Group E Romania, Denmark, Poland, Montenegro, Armenia, Kazakhstan Where does the favouritism fall in this one? Well it’s not too hard to pick Poland out as the stand out quality side here. They really didn’t shine as well as many would have hoped at Euro 2016 as they went more defensive than they were during qualification. Still, they are a postive 11/8 price to win Group E and that screams value here. Denmark are awkward opposition but nothing more and then Romania may have their say in patches. But the home form of Poland and the goals of Robert Lewandowski should push them to a comfortable top spot. It may be worth having a flutter on Romania to sneak past Denmark because they have come on well the last couple of years with Denmark really stagnating. Group F England, Slovakia, Scotland, Slovenia, Lithuania, Malta England are 4/11 odds on favourites to win this group and given how easily qualifying for Euro 2016 was for them it would be tough to go against them. Big Sam Allardyce should benefit from a pretty easy group draw here and there appears to be very little to topple England here. Perhaps the only thing is will be them beating themselves through complacency. But really the perceived threats from Slovakia, Scotland and SLovenia aren’t great at all. It would be a shocker if England didn't win this group while Scotland are a bit of a distant 4/1 shot to qualify for Group F. There’s a lot of work there for the Scots to do. Group G Spain, Italy, Albania, Israel, Macedonia, Liechtenstein Thankfully Spain and Italy were drawn together here to give this group a bit of spice or else it would have been a non-starter. Spain are 1/2 still to get the group win on the board, but the Italians are always efficient enough through qualifying for tournaments to keep their neck in the race. Italy though will now have lost the special touch of Antonio Conte so how will that affect them? But Spain too enter a new era as well after Vicente del Bosque stepped down leaving new head coach Julen Lopetegui in charge. You would expect the Spaniards to pretty much carry on regardless, more so than Italy but the games between the two of them should be a real highlight of World Cup qualifying. The Italians are 13/8 to win the group. There will be one big nation guaranteed to have to go through the play offs. Spain or Italy? Toss of a coin. Group H Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Estonia, Cyprus, Gibraltar As with most qualification groups there is a strong favourite set to run away with things and here that would be Belgium who are 2/7 favourites to win Group H. They should do just that unopposed really. It’s hard to really even see Bosnia-Herzegovina putting up enough to really get anywhere near to Belgium in this group so the rest have no chance. The Red Devils with new boss Roberto Martinez in charge, should be super comfortable in this one. Whoever comes runner up from this group may struggle to make it as one of the best eight to reach the play offs. Very poor group. Gibraltar make their World Cup qualifying debuts in this group. Group I Croatia, Iceland, Ukraine, Turkey, Finland, Kosovo Group H has Gibraltar making their debut, while Group I have Kosovo making theirs. Croatia, who really should have gone further at the summer’s European Championships are 11/10 to win this group. The Ukraine are there at 3/1 with Turkey just a little longer at 10/3. Turkey are hit and miss and only scraped over the finish line in their Euro 2016 qualifying group because of the Netherlands’ deficiencies, while the Ukraine don’t generally offer much away from home. You even have Iceland in her, remarkable Euro 2016 quarter finalists but while the slick Croatians should win the group, picking a second place team of the Ukraine, Turkey and Iceland is tough. For value would run with the Turks. 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World Cup Qualification 2018 Groups Europe Match Dates

Matchday 1 4–6 September 2016 Matchday 2 6–8 October 2016 Matchday 3 9–11 October 2016 Matchday 4 11–13 November 2016 Matchday 5 24–26 March 2017 Matchday 6 9–11 June 2017 Matchday 7 31 August – 2 September 2017 Matchday 8 3–5 September 2017 Matchday 9 5–7 October 2017 Matchday 10 8–10 October 2017
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