Image licensed from USA Today Sports
A couple of heavyweights against a pair of underdogs – this is a picture of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Group G, as Belgium and England are clear favorites to reach the knock-out phase, according to various sportsbooks, while both Panama and Tunisia should have a mountain to climb. The bookmakers are pretty sure about the top two here, anyway, the bettors can still pick up some decent wages, while the Matchday 1 games are set for Monday, June 18th, 2018.
The Red Devils are considered as one of the strongest team in the world at the moment due to a sheer quality they possess among the squad, but Belgium is also well-known for the constant underperforming in big games. Four years ago, they lost to Argentina 1-0 in the Quarter-Finals, while a 3-1 defeat against Wales in the last eight of the EURO 2016 was an immense disappointment for Red Devils' fans. The pressure is huge ahead of the 2018 World Cup, as both fans and pundits expect to finally see Belgium at least in the Semi-Final, so the manager Roberto Martinez has a mission to work on a mental aspect and prepare his boys for the tournament.
Belgium's Key Players
Eden Hazard is a leader of this Belgium team, and the skillful forward will be a great danger for all rivals in Russia with his maze runs and exceptional vision. The playmaker Kevin De Bruyne should orchestrate the play from the middle of the park, while Romelu Lukaku will be a target-man at the front. The back line is formed of some great players, and Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, and Vincent Kompany are all top-notch defenders. However, the bettors should pay attention to Kompany's recent injury, as he should miss the opening match against Panama.
Betting Picks and Odds
Belgium to Qualify From Group A Yes/No at -1200/+800
Belgium to Finish Bottom of Group at +2800
Belgium to Reach the Quarter-Finals at -175
Belgium to Win the World Cup at +1100
Top Pick: Belgium vs. Panama – Belgium AH -2 at +100
The Three Lions will have the third-youngest team at the 2018 World Cup, and despite the fact that all 23 players perform in the English Premier League, some young guns will be under pressure. The manager Gareth Southgate prefers to play with three at the back, while his midfield is compiled mostly from high work-rate players, relying on a simple direct-passing style of play. However, his boys are also good technicians capable of keeping the ball on their feet, looking like a team with plenty of options in the offensive arsenal. Both pundits and bookmakers don't expect miracles from Three Lions in Russia, so Southgate's team surely has a huge motive to prove its' worth on the biggest stage.
England's Key Players
Harry Kane is a prolific striker who can also provide chances for his teammates, and his contribution should be crucial in England's eventual drive to the success. The pacey winger Raheem Sterling had a brilliant season with Manchester City, so he could be set to shine on this tournament. The attacking midfielder Dele Alli can cause plenty of troubles when running from deep, while another young lion Marcus Rashford could be a joker in the final third.
Betting Picks and Odds
England to Qualify From Group A Yes/No at -800/+500
England to Finish Bottom of Group at +2200
England to Reach the Quarter-Finals at -125
England to Win the World Cup at +1600
Top Pick: Quarter-Finals at -125
The Eagles of Carthage are coming to Russia without their best player Youssef Msakni which is a huge blow for Nabil Maaloul's side who will have a difficult task to compensate Msakni's skills in the final third. Tunisians rely on a hard work, mostly playing in a 4-5-1 system, but they are also capable of switching to a 5-4-1 formation when it's needed against strong opponents. The Eagles of Carthage will probably take a defensive approach in their first two games against Belgium and England, as one positive result out of these two tilts is a must for Tunisia.
Tunisia's Key Players
The attacking midfielder Wahbi Khazri is the most gifted individual in this Tunisia team with a great eye for a goal, while Naim Sliti should provide some creativity for the Eagles of Carthage. The full-back Ali Maaloul is another key player with exceptional pace who can offer more options in the final third.
Betting Picks and Odds
Tunisia to Qualify From Group A Yes/No at +400/-600
Tunisia to Finish Bottom of Group at +170
Tunisia to Reach the Quarter-Finals at +1000
Tunisia to Win the World Cup at +75000
Top Pick: Tunisia to Win Against Panama at +110
Los Canaleros are the biggest out-of-towner of the 2018 World Cup in their first appearance ever, while they've qualified for the tournament after a controversial winning goal against Costa Rica in the ultimate game of the World Cup qualifiers. Panama is a quite limited team with plenty of flaws in their game, but Los Caneleros will give their best shot in Russia, for sure. The manager Hernan Dario Gomez has a lot of World Cup experience, so he will try to prepare his boys, while in the recent friendlies, he used a defensive 5-3-2 formation, trying to find the best solution at the defensive end.
Panama's Key Players
The 36-year old forward Luis Tejada will lead the frontline along with a 37-year old Blas Perez, and this duo should provide the first ever World Cup goal for Panama. The 34-year old midfielder Gabriel Gomez should organize the play, while the 37-year old captain Felipe Baloy will hold the things at the back along with a couple of youngsters Michael Murillo and Fidel Escobar, both from MLS side New York Red Bulls.
Betting Picks and Odds
Panama to Qualify From Group A Yes/No at +900/-1400
Panama to Finish Bottom of Group at -200
Panama to Reach the Quarter-Finals at +2000
Panama to Win the World Cup at +100000
Top Pick: Panama vs. Belgium Over 3 Goals at +130
Group G Schedule
|Date||HOME||AWAY||1||X||2||O/U 2.5 Goals|
Group G Forecast Odds
1st Belgium, 2nd England (+137)
1st England, 2nd Belgium (+175)
Belgium & England (-350)
Belgium & Tunisia (+750)
England & Tunisia (+900)
My Pick: 1st Belgium, 2nd England at +137
Group G Verdict
Panama is undoubtedly the weakest side here, so they could experience a demolition job in the opening clash against Belgium, Los Canaleros first ever World Cup game. Tunisia looks like a well-organized team, but I don't believe they are capable of upsetting the odds in the Group G, so I'm backing Belgium and England to find their way to the second round.
The ultimate game between two heavyweights should decide who will get the top spot, but I think both these teams have a potential to reach the Quarter-Finals. The bettors should pay attention to their performance and current form in Russia, as one of these two rivals could upset the odds and eventually reach the Semi-Finals, or even go all the way.