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2018 World Cup Cheat Sheet

Have ten minutes and need to know everything about the 2018 World Cup? You’ve come to the right place. We have every group broken down in brief, highlighting some essential names to know and the odds to win outright. Take it from someone that probably watches soccer as much as you do – I’m excited about this year’s World Cup and am in furious catch up mode as well.

Betting starts Thursday morning so get on those daily lines!

In one of the most fun tags leading up to something as large as the 2018 World Cup, the Group of Death moniker has been attached to both Groups C, D and F. My vote is Group F which is littered with incredible scorers across all teams. Honestly, I don’t care much for this branding anymore. The point is that there are still just 4 or 5 teams at the top of international play and a sixth one usually emerges somewhere early in the knockouts stages.

Let’s break down the 2018 World Cup with odds to win as per our futures market. You can check out the daily lines at, and don’t forget to hammer the draw play in the opening games – especially the one featuring Russia and Egypt – because that’s the big money maker in the first set of matchups where it seems logical.

You should also scroll down the seemingly endless list of 2018 World Cup props and futures we have listed for some fun hedges, side pots and outright profit churners!

GROUP A Favorite – Uruguay +2500 to Win 2018 World Cup
Barcelona’s lead man Luis Suarez is a big time player who usually rises to the occasion. Along with Edinson Cavani, Diego Godin and Jose Giminez this team is the one to beat in Group A without a doubt. It’s not a particularly strong gathering of teams, and that plays as much to Uruguay’s advantage as it should

Russia +5000
The hosts were handed a gift with such a weak group, but are much farther behind Uruguay than even the World Cup odds suggest. Alan Dzagoev, Denis Cheryshev and Alexsandr Kokorin are going to be prime viewing, but it’s impossible to see this team advancing anywhere past the Round of 16. There’s just not enough next-level talent although there’s an unusually high level of creativity.

Egypt +20000
The only reason to even bother watching Egypt is Salah, but even he’s not good enough to leverage wins over any team other than Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia +75000
They’re essentially the worst team at the World Cup. Happy to be there, probably not so happy to get clocked in each game.

GROUP B Favorite – Spain +650 to win 2018 World Cup
There’s nothing else you need to know other than that they’re the defending World Cup champions. An exit from the group stage to the next rounds is a given. How far they go will depend on matchups, luck and the continued brilliance of Andres Iniesta. He’s 34 years old now, and that’s pretty much the only reason to doubt Spain other than the fact that Germany is so damn good.

Portugal +2500
How can you not cheer for this team when Cristiano Ronaldo is at the heart of it all? The second best player in the world behind Messi is playing in peak form and led this team to the EUFA Championsion in 2016. What’s always hampered Portugal is a lack of support around Ronaldo. He has that now. Pepe and Jose Fonte will be especially integral to preventing scores on the back end. I’ve always like Ronaldo, and understand why some have doubts, but it’s inarguable that this is the best squad he’s ever taken to the World Cup. Love the cajones it takes to bet on Portugal. I’m in.

Morocco +25000
What Morocco has going for them is an established defence, especially down the middle with Boussoufa and Zyiech. What they don’t have is proven goal scorers. There’s a chance here given that the World Cup can bring out the best in even the worst players, but it’s slim to think of a deep run for Morocco.

Iran +50000
Never advanced past the group stage in their history, and not going to start now with this sordid defence that will leave way too many opportunities for their opposition.

GROUP C Favorite – France +750
The French are the best squad by far in Group C, and the country is flat out enjoying a peak of talent right now. They’ve left so many defensive stars at home for the tour that it’s frightening how good they still are. A stealthy attack, relentless offence and a stern defence make France a no brainer to leave Group C in ruins. Let’s just say this – they’re the fourth favorite in the whole damn tournament.

Denmark +10000
There’s such a clear gap between Denmark and France compared to Peru and Australia that it’s critically unfair. A confidence building run in the group stage will probably allow Denmark to outperform their 12th ranking according to FIFA. They’re still not there yet, but they could be the team that makes the prohibitive leap. Love them as an game bet, even against France but not long term.

Peru +10000
It’s been too much of an uphill climb for Peru to get here, and they’ll just be relieved to enjoy the show and see what happens. It won’t be pretty, but at least they all got to travel to Russia on the taxpayer’s dime.

Australia +50000
Punching bag of the group. Australia has been on the downturn since a strong showing in 2006 and have no reason to offer a glimmer of hope to their backers. National sport in the Land Down Under is in utter turmoil across the board and we’ll all be reminded of that this summer.

GROUP D Favorites – Argentina +900
Messi, Messi and more Messi. That’s the only thing that’s going to give Argentina a prolonged visit to Russia. They’re going to spank Group D, but any depth beyond that requires this team to be an offensive juggernaut. Simply put, Higuain, Aguero and Messi will have to not only be at peak form – they have to be the best in the entire tournament. Argentina has not won a major international tournament since 1993. For me, all bets are off, but I will be watching every single game simply for the treat that is Lionel Messi.

Iceland +22000 and Croatia +3300
The gap between Iceland and Argentina is huge. The one between them and Croatia? Not so much. Second place in this group is a rabig dogfight between the two. The edge goes slightly to Iceland, but I think it’s just because I’m over excited about their fans clapping for a few weeks. Croatia’s defence is also a problem.

Nigeria +20000
Health is a big part of what’s propping up Nigeria. They have every body they need. The biggest issue is that their defence is anchored by Ken Omeruo, who is just 24 years old. Inexperience can certainly catch up with them quickly, especially against a dense group.

GROUP E Favorite – Brazil +400 to Win 2018 World Cup
There is a shade of a public factor involved here, but that shouldn’t understate how talented this team is. Aside from Neymar, goal keeper Alisson is the one to watch. If he’s on form, Brazil will literally have no weaknesses and with so many experienced players returning to the fray, there as good of a bet as any despite being favorites. Making the pathway a bit easier is the fact that they have a grouping which they can take clear advantage of. Brazil is all about momentum, and are hungry after a heartbreaking 4th place finish in 2014 on their home turf.

Serbia +12500
Both Dusan Tadic and Andrija Zivkovic are the essential talents to watch, with the latter elevating to the grandest stage in soccer at a mere 21 years of age. A lot of their game will also rely on how well newly appointed striker, Mitrovic, does with the promoted role. It’s been a decade (and four attempts) since they’ve last advanced beyond the group stage, but is the best squad Serbia has put together since then.

Switzerland +12500
A lot of World Cup efforts are defined by excellence in the midfield, and this is where the Swiss hold a lot of candles. They are the most likely group escapers alongside Brazil and are heading in to the World Cup as a very big under-the-radar team. Xherdan Shaqiri and Breel Embolo are the two guys to keep track of, but it’s the core in the middle of the field that will stabilize Switzerland as a threat or not.

Costa Rica +50000
The sentimental underdog at the World Cup has a serious, uphill climb to re-establish themselves as a routine threat at this level. Their Cinderella run is still fresh in people’s memories, but that shouldn’t overstate how vulnerable they are. Four of their five recent wins have come against Team USA, with a finish earned over Trinidad and Tobago.

GROUP F Favorites – Germany +500 to win 2018 World Cup
The Germans have long stood as the team to beat in the 2018 World Cup despite Brazil’s odds. They’re the most talented, the most reliable and are a daunting force of nature on the international stage. I feel outright sorry for the rest of the group, which includes Mexico +10000, Sweden +15000 and South Korea +50000. Sweden has a decent chance of usurping Mexico for second place and a chance to get steamrolled in the next round, but Germany is about to put on a brutal clinic and will rightfully establish themselves as the team to beat as we head in to the knockout stages.

GROUP G Favorite – Belgium +1100 to win 2018 World Cup
If you’re looking for an outsider to bet on that actually has a chance of claiming the throne, look no further than Belgium. In 2014, they were the hype team to look out for. Now they’re one of the top teams. It’s simply a bountiful mix of players that all came in to their peak at the same time. This is why many call them the “golden generation of Belgium futbol” (or something like that). A definitive team to track, get in early on and hammer in the daily lines. They’re deadly.

England +1800
They’re going to blow it. You know it. I know it. The fans know it. The worst part? They know it. I do love that they’ve gone with a youth movement, and if anything I expect them to reach the quarter-finals before bowing out to a more experienced team. If they weren’t England, we’d be singing their praises and touting them like we are with Columbia and Poland. But there’s too much of a gloomy, English cloud hanging over their heads. It’s been too sad of a state of affairs for England at the World Cup these past few runs. I’m rooting for them. Just maybe not betting on them after the group stage.

Panama +75000 and Tunisia +75000
The odds say it all. These teams are the only reason that England is getting a pass to the knockout stage.

GROUP H Favorite – Columbia +4000 to win 2018 World Cup
There’s been a relatively large swell around Columbia in the 2018 World Cup futures that’s brought them way down from where they were to where are now in terms of value. James Rodriguez is the lynch pin of the whole squad, and was there in 2014 when the team was knocked out 2-0 against Brazil. This is a team that’s on the verge of rising up to the next level. Talent and hunger are definitely there…but so too is a growing expectation.

Poland +6600
It’s been a very long time since Poland has been a true threat in the World Cup, but this is undoubtedly the best team they’ve had in nearly forty years. Their defence is great, and Wojciech Szcyesny has been electric between the posts. I am a very big fan of Poland as a team to bank on in game, and expect massive things from them in the knockout stage. Don’t underrate them. Or do so at your own risk.

Japan +250000
The Blue Samurai return to their trademark style of play as a possession based team in this World Cup under head coach Akira Nishino and have enjoyed a ton of success within Asia, where nobody really catches them. Japan has a lot of work to return to their regular form, and there are serious doubts as to the quality of their players and their ability to get the job done when the spotlight is at its brightest.

Senegal +12500
Injuries to Mané are pretty much the biggest hitch in Senegal’s plans for upstart potential in the 2018 World Cup. That and they’re playing in a group with Poland, Columbia and Japan. Just not their year, but they’ll be a bit more of a problem than people expect.

· Maxtone-Smith: Matchday 5 - Best Bets
· News: 2018 World Cup Betting Results
· Maxtone-Smith: WC Group Best Bets (E-H)
· WC Betting Cheat Sheet
· Maxtone-Smith: World Cup Best Bets
· Mejia: Dinero Talks: World Cup Groups
· Maxtone-Smith: WC Golden Boot - Best Bets
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