The World Cup countdown is well and truly on, with less than two months until Russia 2018 gets started. Now is a great time to start looking at some ante post bets and here our focus in on World Cup Group B.
When it comes to Group B, it is clear that much of the focus will be on Spain and Portugal. Spain, of course, won the World Cup in 2010, whilst Portugal are the reigning European Championships. With Spain also winning both of the two Euros prior to that and Portugal losing finalists in 2004, these are clearly two nations who knows what it takes to go deep into a major competition.
The bookies are certainly well aware of the merits of the two Iberian rivals, with Spain fourth favourites in the outright World Cup betting. They are available at odds of 7/1 with 888sport to go all the way, with Portugal a 25/1 shot with William Hill.
Any side with the in-form Cristiano Ronaldo has to be respected and the Portuguese forwards goalscoring record over the past month or so beggars belief. Can Ronaldo clinch the world crown that has eluded his personal rival Lionel Messi? Or will the team work and defined playing style of the Spanish prove that they have a new golden generation?
Group B World Cup Betting Tips
- Spain to finish first, Portugal second – 5/4 with Coral
- Morocco to finish bottom – 31/20 with BetVictor
There are so many betting options available when it comes to the World Cup and that includes a plethora of group markets. There are odds already available for each of the six matches in the group, with various outrights also on offer.
When assessing the group, the FIFA world rankings seem like a reasonable place to start. Of course, these rankings are notoriously fallible but even so, it gives us some idea of the relative merits of each of the four nations.
Proof of the questionable accuracy of the rankings comes from the fact that Portugal are currently four places higher than Spain. Ronaldo and co are 4th, with Spain down in 8th. Partly that can be explained by Portugal’s fine performance in winning the 2016 Euros and also in qualifying for this tournament, where they won nine of their 10 games.
However, few serious football experts would argue that Portugal are the better side and that is reflected in the odds for the clash between the rivals. Spain are odds-on for that one and they are also clear favourites to win the group.
Away from the top two, Iran are next according to FIFA, currently placed 36th, six places above Morocco (42). Again, we have a discrepancy between the odds and the rankings though, with the North Africans 11/8 to beat Iran.
In terms of the outright group winner odds, as said, Spain are clear favourites, priced at just 1/2 with Coral. It is no surprise to see Portugal second, albeit at a relatively distant 2/1 (with BetVictor). Morocco are the third favourites with the bookies at huge odds of 16/1, again with BetVictor. Any optimistic or patriotic Iranians can get whopping odds of 33/1 for their side to top Group B.
Overall we think the bookies have largely got those prices correct and it’s hard to look past the two favourites progressing. Spain and Portugal are huge favourites to make the knockout phase, priced at just 1/14 and 2/. If you fancy an upset you can back Morocco to go through at 10/3 or Iran to make the last 16 at 15/2.
Unsurprisingly, those odds are essentially reversed when it comes to the betting on who will pick up Group B’s wooden spoon. Spain are 45/1, Portugal around 15/1, Morocco 31/20 and Iran favourites at 10/11.
By and large we see this group going more or less as the odds suggest and that means we think Spain will finish top of the pile with CR7 having to settle for second. As such, our first top is the straight forecast, with a Spain/Portugal 1-2 nicely priced at odds of 5/4 with Coral.
We do, however, fancy there may just be an upset when it comes to the other two nations in the group. Iran and Morocco face each other in the opening clash of Group B on the 15th June and Iran are the outsiders. We think they may just have what it takes to nick a result in that one and, win or draw, we think they offer decent value to edge out Morocco when it comes to claiming third place.
Iran will fight and battle all the way and they have one or two decent players and a good coach in Carlos Queiroz. The bulk of their squad are based in Iran but they have a good number of pros at reasonable European sides too, including the likes of Rubin Kazan, Olympiakos, AZ Alkmaar and AEK Athens. Their results coming into the tournament have been good and having beaten Algeria in their most recent friendly we think they can sneak third in Group B at a nice price.