Soccer World Cup Group G: Betting Preview and Predictions
Published on June 13, 2018
On paper, Group G of the soccer World Cup is one of the easiest to predict, at least when it comes to picking the teams that will advance to the knockout stage.
Belgium and England are the overwhelming favorites, while Tunisia and Panama seem doomed to go home after the first round of the World Cup finals in Russia.
Is that how it’s going to turn out, though? I’m always prepared for the unexpected when it comes to soccer, and especially in the biggest competition of all. Anything can happen, and it usually does.
So, below, I will share my thoughts on the four teams in this group and assess their chances of going through. More importantly, I’ll try to find some bets that provide an opportunity to make some money.
This is one of the most talented soccer generations Belgium has ever had in its history. The squad is packed with stars that have been rocking the top European leagues in the past couple of years. Some might believe this is a coincidence, but .
If you have to rate the teams in Russia purely based on the sheer number of world-class players, Belgium will be very high on your list. The likes of De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Romelu Lukaku, and many others could be starting for most of the teams in the World Cup.
In fact, the potential is so big that coach Roberto Martinez could afford to leave a player like Radja Nainggolan out of his group for the summer.
Despite the exceptional talent available, Belgium was disappointing in EURO 2016 and in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The country failed to live up to its potential on both occasions, which is an example that you need chemistry and balance to succeed.
On paper, the country has an exceptional goalkeeper, one of the best defenses in the tournament, and loads of attacking talent.
At the same time, the coach, Roberto Martinez, has a specific style that is not suited to knockout tournaments. He loves building sides that play with a lot of purpose in the final third but are vulnerable at the back.
If Belgium doesn’t manage to find the required balance and defend properly, it will be knocked out by the first strong team in the second stage of the tournament. At least that’s my opinion.
However, Belgium should have no issues whatsoever qualifying for the next stage. The likes of Tunisia and Panama are no match, and England is not that good, either. To be honest, I find the odds of 1.80 for Belgium to win Group G quite tempting.
Ever since winning the World Cup as a host in 1966, England has disappointed its supporters. The country had some brilliant players through the years but didn’t manage to achieve a memorable performance in the World Cup.
One of the main reasons is the constant pressure the media and the fans put on the team. There were some early signs this was going to be the case in 2018 as well, but the atmosphere seems stable right now.
Probably the main reason for that is that England has one of its weakest squads in decades. I don’t want to be disrespectful to the current group of players, but there are many gaps in the team, and they are easy to spot.
For a start, England has no consistent goalkeeper or a convincing defense. Coach Gareth Southgate will have the tough task to find a back line that works well, and that won’t be easy.
At the same time, the midfield is suspect, to say the least. There are some hard-working players like Eric Dier and Jordan Henderson, but the creativity will be an issue. I simply don’t see enough talent if you compare England to the likes of France, Germany, Brazil, and even Belgium.
The only bright light is that the country can rely on one of the most clinical strikers in the world. Harry Kane will certainly try to prove himself after failing to live up to his own standards in the Euro 2016 finals.
I believe this England squad has some decent young players and will progress to the knockouts, but I don’t expect a deeper run. Probably the last 16 is the end of the road for the country.
The last time Tunisia played in the World Cup finals was in 2006, and the country hardly has a history of success in the competition. In fact, qualifying for this stage is already a satisfying result for the Africans.
Of course, no team goes to the World Cup with the mindset that it has no chance. The problem is, Tunisia faces some serious injury problems before the tournament in Russia.
Their main player in the qualifiers, Youssef Msakni, got injured in April and will miss the World Cup. This is an issue, as he was the top scorer on the road to Russia, and Tunisia will struggle to find goals in his absence.
On top of that, regulars like Ali Maaloul, Ghaylene Chaalali, and Mohamed Ben Amor have also suffered from various problems in the last couple of months. They are all part of the Tunisian group in Russia, but it remains to be seen if any of them will be fully fit right from the start.
Coach Nabil Maaloul built a group that works hard for each other and trusts his system. Tunisia will rely mostly on a strong defense and a counter-attacking style, but their team spirit is also an important weapon for them.
I don’t see them progressing from this group, but the Africans are definitely capable of taking a point from England or even Belgium if they don’t take them seriously.
I don’t think anyone believed that Panama would reach the World Cup finals at the expense of the USA before the qualifiers in North America started. That didn’t stop the small country from achieving the greatest success in its history.
This is the first time Panama will play in the final stage of the World Cup. The country has one of the most experienced squads when it comes to average international fixtures and age which shows this group has been together for a while.
A quick look at the names that will represent Panama and their respective clubs shows how significant this qualification is. The country has only 4 players that play in European clubs, and you’ve probably heard of none of the guys in the squad.
I don’t think Panama stands a chance against any of the other teams in the group, but you never know in the World Cup.
The skipper Roman Torres will lead an experienced defense that is not afraid to get physical, and goalkeeper Jaime Penedo has a respectable career in Europe. It’s obvious that Panama will try to sit tight and not let the opposition create much.
This could bring them a surprising point against Tunisia, but the likes of England and Belgium will have too much talent. This is why I don’t see any value in the odds for Panama despite the high prices available.
I believe that both Belgium and England will have no issues progressing from this group. They play the other two teams first, and it’s possible that both will have 6 points before the last round when they face each other.
This is why I see Belgium versus England in the third round as the key battler that will decide the winner of this group.
Considering the strength of each team in this group, I see the odds for Belgium to win it at 1.91 as decent. However, there’s a much better bet out there.
Tunisia to finish third is priced at 2.00, which represents massive value, in my opinion. I don’t see the Africans overcoming Belgium or England, but they should have no issues beating Panama for third.
This is probably one of the very best bets for the group stage. Sure, the odds aren’t especially high. But it looks like a relatively safe bet, and I like the chances of my doubling my money on this one.
I think both Belgium and England will fall short to match the best teams in the World Cup, so their path should end somewhere early in the knockout stages.
At this stage, there are no other bets involving these countries that appeal to me.
With that being said, Harry Kane has to be considered as one of the players with a chance of being the top goal scorer in Russia.
I talked more about his chances, and those of other contenders, in a previous post about betting on the World Cup’s top goal scorer.