Every World Cup there’s a consensus “Group of Death” where there are 3 or 4 really strong teams all pitted against each other in the opening round. For 2018, most people believe that Group D is the “Group of Death”– Argentina, Croatia, Nigeria and Iceland. By looking at each team’s odds to win/advance from each group, we can try to figure out which are the toughest on paper.
For anyone unfamiliar, the 32 World Cup teams were randomly drawn into eight groups of four teams each back on December 1st, 2017. Here’s how they all stack up, and where my early leans are.
Uruguay are the +100 favorites to win the group, and they’re also the biggest favorites to advance at -350. This is by far the weakest group in the World Cup in my opinion, and I’ve been advocating fading Russia in all capacities. If you can bet on Russia not to advance at +250 odds, I’d recommend doing so. If that’s not available, there’s definitely value on Egypt at +160 (available at Bovada) to get out of the group. Not only is Mo Salah an absolute stud for Egypt, but they have a good enough supporting cast to break through Group A, and there’s almost always an African nation to surprise people at the World Cup.
Portugal and Spain are both big favorites to advance from this group but I don’t see much value in either of them. Iran put in a solid effort in the 2014 World Cup and nearly drew their group match with Argentina before Leo Messi’s (pictured above) magic, so I’d be cautious about completely counting them out. Morocco is a big unknown and are +700 just to advance, but I’d need those odds to be longer at around +1000 to even think about taking them.
I like this group from a competitive point of view, and think the value lies on Peru at +260 to advance. They were really impressive to qualify out of South America and I’d much prefer betting Peru at +260 odds than Denmark at -175 odds. Australia is the weakest of the bunch, but they’ll be tough to beat in all three of their group matches and have some experience to lean on.
At first glance, the odds on Argentina seem too low, but they make sense when looking game-by-game. I’m really high on both Croatia and Nigeria in this group but just wish they weren’t included with Argentina. However, I still think there’s value on Nigeria at +240 to advance from the group, and every match in this group will be worth watching. Iceland will be a trendy pick after their surprising run in the 2016 Euros, but I don’t think they’ll have the same success this summer.
Everyone expects Brazil to advance and so do I. The intriguing part of this group is who else will advance with them, and I think it’s completely up in the air. Switzerland and Serbia are both staunch defensive teams that have the ability to score, while Costa Rica were the most impressive “longshots” at the 2014 World Cup. I’m passing on this group completely as of now, and am curious to see where odds shift over the months leading up to the tournament.
Germany are the cream of the crop as the most consistent team and the defending World Cup champions. I don’t see them having much trouble advancing, similar to Brazil, so it’s a matter of who else joins them. I’m low on Sweden and although South Korea will be a tough team, I don’t see them advancing either. At +135, I really like the value on Mexico as an underdog (who played in Russia last summer) to advance from the group. That’s likely my trendiest pick and those odds may come down soon, so grab it while you can.
Good luck if you’re betting England in a World Cup because I can’t get myself to do it. Belgium should be plenty strong enough to advance but I’m keeping my eyes on Tunisia to join them. A lot of people will overlook the African teams but I think there will be a strong showing from the continent this summer. You can definitely wait until closer to the tournament if you do like Tunisia to advance since very few people will be betting on them, so those odds will likely go up to +350 or +400.
This group is snug, and it’s also the most ‘diverse’ group in terms of countries located around the world (Asia, South America, Africa, Europe). I really don’t see a bad bet to win/advance right now and could be persuaded in any direction. All four teams are “+” money to win the group, but Colombia and Poland are the odds-on favorites to advance.