McGuire: My 2018 World Cup Futures Betting Card

McGuire: My 2018 World Cup Futures Betting Card article feature image

Sports Illustrated. Pictured: Peru’s Paolo Guerrero

The Highlights

  • Argentina and Belgium are my picks to win it all.
  • Peru will be a sleeper, but is there any value on the South Americans at this point?
  • Mo Salah’s health will be the key to how Group A shakes out.

My excitement for the 2018 World Cup started the day Argentina lost to Germany in the 2014 Final in Brazil. While other tournaments such as the Copa America and Euro 2016 have kept the summers busy, nothing quite compares to the thrill of a World Cup.


Groups A through H were announced on Dec. 1, 2017, and that’s when futures and props started popping up. Since then, I’ve been placing futures bets for the World Cup, which I’ve highlighted below:

World Cup Futures

Argentina (+900)

I took Argentina to win in 2014 and was let down in the final, but I’m not giving up on them in 2018. Lionel Messi is the key, but the entire team needs to step up and play better overall to make another run.

Belgium (+1400)

Is Belgium finally poised to make a deep run in an international tournament? They’ve got the talent to do so, but questions remain about cohesiveness and coaching. A better bet may be to take Belgium to reach the semifinal (+220) if you don’t want to go all-in.

To Advance from Group

Egypt (+160) from Group A

I tried to get ahead of the public by taking Egypt early before bettors jumped on the bandwagon. After Mo Salah’s injury, I’m not as confident, but still think they make it out of a weak Group A.

Peru (+260) from Group C

This may be my favorite bet that I made back in February. They’re now at +200 to advance from Group C, so the value is mostly gone, but I’ll still be targeting Peru when they play both Denmark and Australia. They also received some great news recently that Paolo Guerrero is eligible to play following a drug suspension appeal.

Nigeria (+240) from Group D

Nigeria has some great young talent that could propel them into the Round of 16, but it’ll be tough in a group with Argentina and Croatia. However, at +240 I think the odds are good enough to make a wager.

Mexico (+135) from Group F

These odds are gone, and Mexico are now odds-on favorites to advance, so I’d lay off at this point. However, you can still find value by betting Mexico to be eliminated in the Round of 16 at +220 odds.

To Win Group

Uruguay Group A (+110)

The market doesn’t entirely agree on Group A right now, as BetUS is offering Uruguay at +110 to win the group, compared to -120/-130 elsewhere. The price is far too good to pass up, especially considering Uruguay is clearly the best team in the group.

NOT to Advance from Group

Russia Group A (+250)

I’m a believer in Uruguay and Egypt, so naturally I like the value on Russia NOT to advance from Group A at +250 odds.


To Finish Last in Group

Russia Group A (+1000)

Sure, Russia are the hosts and odds-on favorites to advance from Group A, but I’m just not convinced. It worked to fade them at Euro 2016 and this team isn’t any better.

Australia Group C (-105)

I’m not high on the Socceroos, especially because of the others in their group: France, Peru and Denmark. They’re clearly the worst of the bunch, so the value on -105 to finish last is still good.

Iceland Group D (+110)

Group D is extremely tough with the likes of Argentina, Nigeria and Croatia. I’ll be surprised if Iceland manages more than a point, so grab them to finish last.

Switzerland Group E (+400)

There are some things to like about Switzerland, but I worry about the back line stopping teams such as Brazil and Serbia. If Costa Rica can surprise people again in this World Cup, then Switzerland could easily find themselves last in the group.

Sweden Group F (+250)

Germany should win the group while Mexico and South Korea battle for second. That leaves Sweden in the cellar for me, and at +250 odds, I love the value.

Top Goalscorer

Leo Messi (+900)

It’s no secret that Messi is my guy, and he nearly led Argentina to glory in 2014. Since I took them to win the Cup again in 2018, I’ve also gone with Messi to net the most goals in the tournament. He’ll need some help along the way in order for Argentina to make a deep run, but he will be the go-to scorer. It’ll also help if they can manage to earn a couple penalty kicks since he’ll 100% be taking them.

Timo Werner (+1600)

Germany has had the leading scorer at two of the last three World Cups and have a good chance to make it three of four since they’re the favorites to win in 2018. Werner is a striker on a loaded roster and could be the main man to net their goals. He’s not quite a household name and is still going under the radar heading into the tournament.

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