Odds, Value Bets to Finish Last in Each World Cup Group
© Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
In recent weeks we’ve hit on teams to win/advance from each group, odds to win the World Cup, and players who could be top goalscorer in the tournament. Now it’s time to focus our attention on which countries could finish dead last in their group, and there are definitely a few teams I’m low on.
Here are odds for each team to finish last in their group:
Saudi Arabia -265, Egypt +325, Russia +950, Uruguay +1100
The hosts Russia got a very, very fortunate draw as this is the weakest group in the tournament. They also have the benefit of home-field advantage, but they’re simply not a good team. Russia likely would not have qualified for the World Cup if not for hosting it, and injuries have been mounting. Uruguay are the class of this group, and I think Egypt progresses as well, so it’s down to Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Russia opens World Cup action against the Saudi Arabians, and that will be the crucial match for who finishes last in the group. If you’re really low on Russia, you could bet on Saudi Arabia in the opener to win (+1150) or draw (+390). If you don’t want to worry about the exact outcome, you could simply bet Russia +950 to finish last in the group. The odds on Russia appear to be extremely skewed by overvaluing the home side, so I’m just hoping there’s no “questionable” referee decisions. I’ve bet against Russia plenty in the past, and have no problem doing so again this summer.
Iran -125, Morocco +120, Portugal +1000, Spain +3500
The consensus here is that both Spain and Portugal will advance, so last place is up for grabs between Iran and Morocco. Although Iran are the -125 favorites to finish rock bottom, they have the experience of the 2014 World Cup to bank on where they drew with Nigeria and nearly drew with Argentina. They also play Morocco in the final group match where both teams could enter the game with 0 wins and 2 losses. In that match, Iran is listed at -160 to win/draw, so rather than betting on Iran to get a result in that game at -160 odds, you’re better off taking Morocco +120 to finish last in the group.
Australia -105, Peru +160, Denmark +400, France +2000
I’m really high on Peru after seeing them qualify through CONMEBOL (South America) and simply think they’re much better than Australia. Even if both teams happen to enter the final group match without a point, the current moneyline odds prove Peru is the superior team: Peru +122, Australia +237, Draw +230. By the time those teams actually meet, I expect Peru to be closer to even money (+100), so there’s great value on Australia at -105 to finish last in the group.
Iceland +110, Nigeria +135, Croatia +400, Argentina +1600
Here’s another group where I love the value on the “favorite” to finish last since I think either Croatia or Nigeria will join Argentina in the Round of 16. Iceland were the trendy underdogs in Euro 2016 and upset England on their way to the quarterfinals before losing to France. There will be plenty of people betting on Iceland simply because of their success in that tournament, but it did come against this group of teams: Portugal, Austria, Hungary. Not exactly the most formidable opponents, and they conceded goals in all five matches they played in that tournament.
I don’t envision another magical run from Iceland and it’s hard to believe they’re available at plus-money, as I see them losing all three matches in group play. At +110 odds, Iceland is my favorite value to finish last.
Costa Rica -160, Serbia +260, Switzerland +400, Brazil +2500
Sometimes you need to be bold with your World Cup predictions, and that was proven in 2014 when Costa Rica somehow won their group consisting of England, Uruguay, and Italy. They were listed anywhere from +2500 to +5000 just to win the group, but they pulled off the miracle by beating Uruguay and Italy, and drawing with England. Could we see a repeat in 2018?
Well, I’m not going that far, as I do think Brazil will win the group fairly easily, but the surprise could be who finishes last. Costa Rica are underdogs in all three of their group matches and they’ll need to spring a mini-upset to avoid finishing at the bottom, but the moneylines are short against both Serbia and Switzerland. Their squad is actually on the “older” side when looking at player ages, but their experience may provide the necessary boost that they need. Therefore, I’m ruling out Costa Rica to finish last despite the odds suggesting it’s likely.
The key in this group will be what happens in the Serbia-Switzerland matchup, which is essentially a toss-up according to the odds. Unless they draw, the loser of the match could easily go 0-3 in the tournament which would put them in last place. You could take both Serbia (+260) and Switzerland (+400) to finish last, but I’m going with Switzerland (+400).
South Korea -125, Sweden +250, Mexico +285, Germany +2500
I’ve already taken Mexico to advance from the group at +135 odds and expect Germany to join them, so it’s between South Korea (-125) and Sweden (+250) for who will finish last.
Again, it’s all about timing. South Korea and Sweden meet in the first group match and the moneyline odds are tight: Sweden +125, Korea +270, Draw +220. It wouldn’t be a surprise at all if Korea won or drew, so the value on Sweden to finish last at +250 is too hard to pass up.
Panama -210, Tunisia +175, England +2000, Belgium +2600
When I first saw these groups announced, I thought it was possible that Tunisia could advance instead of England. Now that we’re a little closer to the World Cup, I’m not bold enough to make that claim. The moneyline odds for the Panama-Tunisia match are tight, and there does appear to actually be value on Tunisia +175 to finish last in the group. It’s not a value play of mine, but it’s the only side I’d be in Group G.
Japan +140, Senegal +200, Poland +350, Colombia +500
This is the toughest group to predict, and I have no idea who will win, advance, or finish last. I do like Poland more than Colombia for what it’s worth, but have no feel for the order of this group. I’m passing altogether on futures in Group H.
Russia +950 (Group A)
Morocco +120 (Group B)
Australia -105 (Group C)
Iceland +110 (Group D)
Switzerland +400 (Group E)
Sweden +250 (Group F)
Cover photo is of Iceland defender Sverrir Ingi Ingason and Mexico defender Carlos Salcedo