Early Line Movement on World Cup Group Matches

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Odds for 2018 World Cup group matches have been available for more than five months and there’s been some notable line movement for some opening games. Below I’ve highlighted the biggest line moves at Pinnacle sportsbook, and shared my thoughts on whether I agree or disagree with the early adjustments.

(All odds via Pinnacle at time of publication. All betting percentages are offshore market consensus. You can find the latest odds and public/sharp info with a Sports Insights membership.)

Group A: Russia (-265 to -288) vs. Saudi Arabia

Agree or Disagree?

In the very first match of the World Cup, Russia’s odds to win have moved from -265 to -288 while Saudi Arabia’s chances of an upset worsened from +980 to +1236. FIFA would love for the host nation to start the tournament off on the right foot but Russia are likely to be missing a few key players. The price is way too high in this match, as are Russia’s odds to advance from the group.

Group A: Egypt (+425 to +380) vs. Uruguay

Agree or Disagree?

The driving force behind Egypt’s line movement has to be the dominance of Mo Salah, who has been scoring for fun for Liverpool (43 goals in all competitions this season). I backed Egypt a few months ago to advance from Group A at +160 odds, and bettors have happily boarded the bandwagon as well. I’m hoping Egypt don’t become too much of a trendy underdog, but I do agree with this line movement for their opening match against Uruguay.

Group C: Peru (+276 to +255) vs. Denmark 

Agree or Disagree?

I’m already on Peru to advance from this group  as I think they’re one of the more underrated countries in this tournament, so I absolutely agree with the early action across the market. Peru have a great chance to advance from Group C and this will be the pivotal match in their quest to do so. With a win or draw against Denmark in the opener, they’ll be in fine shape to progress.

Group C:  France (-448 to -485) vs. Australia

Agree or Disagree?

I’m fully on board with this early line movement and don’t expect much from Australia in this tournament. The Aussies have actually had decent showings in the past two World Cups despite losing all three matches in 2014 (vs. Spain, Chile, Netherlands) but I find this to be a weaker squad. I think we see three more losses in 2018 (vs. France, Denmark, Peru), and their odds to go winless are listed at -125. At -105, I’ve already bet them to finish last in Group C.

Group F:  Sweden (+123 to +118) vs. South Korea

Agree or Disagree?

This is one of the smaller line moves but it’s notable due to the fact that odds were adjusted on Zlatan Ibrahimovic speculation. Now that it has been announced he won’t participate for Sweden over the summer, I expect the line to shift back toward South Korea a little bit. I took a bit of a risk by betting on Sweden to finish last in Group F at +250 odds, but feel better without the threat of Zlatan.

Recent Injuries/News

Belgium: Michy Batshuayi (ankle) – DOUBTFUL
England: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) – OUT
Germany: Lars Stindl (ankle) and Serge Gnabry (knee) – OUT
Sweden: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (retirement) – OUT

You can also follow me on Twitter (@ArsenalDMC) for all the latest soccer news and updates.

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