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When Russia were awarded the World Cup by FIFA back in 2010 it did not go down well with many. All sorts of rumours circulated about exactly how the Russian bid did so well in the voting and things haven’t got any easier in the years since. The build up to the 2018 World Cup has seen political tensions between Russia and the West, awful behaviour from Russian fans during Euro 2016 and worries about the amount of travel involved for the competing teams.
Well, it’s time for all those worries to end. From the second that Russia get the World Cup underway against Saudi Arabia on Thursday 14 June football fans will only be concerned with matters on the pitch. The same is true of punters who have a wealth of betting options to choose from during the month long tournament.
So, we’re marking your card with our pick of the best World Cup betting tips.
Brazil 9/2 (Ladbrokes)
Germany 9/2 (888Sport)
France 13/2 (Bet365)
Spain 6/1 (Coral)
Argentina 10/1 (Paddy Power)
Belgium 11/1 (William Hill)
(Please note all odds shown are correct at time of article publishing.)
There can be no argument about the strength of Brazil and Germany at the head of the outright betting for the 2018 World Cup.
Brazil have come a long way since their humiliating exit from the World Cup which they hosted four years ago. Not only does this team boast world class players in pretty much every position but the mentality of the Seleção has been transformed by Tite since his appointment as manager.
Defending champions Germany head to Russia with arguably an even stronger side than they took to Brazil. Germany’s bewildering strength in depth was in evidence when Joachim Löw won last summer’s Confederations Cup with what was effectively a second string squad.
Honourable mentions should be given to France, Argentina and Uruguay (who look real dark horses at 33/1 with Unibet) but the best value bet in the World Cup Outright Winner market could well be Spain at 6/1 with Coral.
Julen Lopetegui knows that his players must hit the ground running as they face Iberian neighbours, Portugal, in their very first match. Tough as that opener will likely be, Spain’s chances could well be enhanced by an early test. Lopetegui has his side playing football that’s as attractive on the eye as ever they also have a steely spine provided by players like Sergio Ramos, Sergio Busquets and Diego Costa. That mixture of beauty and brawn saw them through qualifying with relative ease so 6/1 really does look a generous price.
Lionel Messi 9/1 (888Sport)
Antoine Griezmann 12/1 (Ladbrokes)
Neymar 12/1 (Paddy Power)
Cristiano Ronaldo 12/1 (Betfred)
Gabriel Jesus 16/1 (Paddy Power)
Harry Kane 16/1 (Betfred)
Timo Werner 16/1 (888Sport)
Romelu Lukaku 18/1 (Unibet)
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been the best players in the world for some years now. They’re both coming towards the end of their time at the top but the duo remain among the favourites in the World Cup Top Goalscorer market for good reason. They both have the quality to score the six goals that would likely secure the Golden Boot but can they rely on their teammates to keep them in the tournament long enough to do enough damage?
Brazil’s chances of making it to the final mean that Neymar and Gabriel Jesus will get plenty of support in the betting but it could be worth taking the 18/1 that Unibet are quoting on Romelu Lukaku outscoring the competition.
Belgium’s pre-tournament friendlies show that they are yet to hit top gear but their opening two matches against Panama and Tunisia should allow Roberto Martinez’s men to settle into the World Cup. Lukaku has long had a reputation for bullying defences of the teams in the lower reaches of the Premier League so he should have no trouble scoring two, three or even four goals in the group stage. The Man Utd striker will be Belgium’s main man up front throughout the World Cup and if they can make it past the quarter-finals Lukaku has a great chance to be the top goalscorer.
Last 16 @ 11/5 (Bet365)
Quarter-Final @ 11/5 (888Sport)
Semi-Final @ 5/1 (William Hill)
Group Stage @ 13/2 (888Sport)
Runner-Up @ 11/1 (888Sport)
Winner @ 16/1 (Bet365)
For so many years England were weighed down by expectation when they competed at World Cups and European Championships. The days of the ‘Golden Generation’ are now long gone though. Gareth Southgate took the decision to favour youth over experience with his World Cup squad and he’ll hope that the trust he’s placed in the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and Jordan Pickford will pay off.
Although England fans are far too jaded to start believing that there is any real chance of the Three Lions winning the World Cup for a second time at 16/1 with Bet365, there is a feeling of cautious optimism about this current squad. Few of the players are tainted by the group stage exit of 2014 and while a handful were involved in the embarrassing defeat against Iceland two years ago, Southgate hopes that pain will only spur them on.
The bookies think that an appearance in the semi-finals is more likely than another group stage exit for England. That’s an analysis we broadly agree with given how fortunate England have been with the draw. Not only will Southgate and his players be happy to be placed alongside Belgium, Tunisia and Panama in Group G but they play their most dangerous opponents last.
It also doesn’t really matter whether England finish first or second in their group. They’re paired with Group H and will fancy their chances against any of Colombia, Poland, Senegal or Poland. From then on it gets a lot tougher though. England are likely to face either Germany or Brazil in the quarter-finals and it’s at that stage where they should exit the tournament at 11/5 with 888Sport.
Spain to win the World Cup at 6/1 with Coral
Romelu Lukaku to be top goalscorer at 18/1 with Unibet
England to be eliminated in the quarter-final at 11/5 with 888Sport