Few sports events can match the drama of the FIFA World Cup. The Finals in Russia (14th June-15th July) will be the 21st edition of football’s biggest showcase. Of course, there are always some things you can back on at a World Cup. For example, Germany always do well – they have at least reached the quarter finals stage (or tournament equivalent) in every World Cup since 1954. But, some things you cannot predict: Costa Rica’s marvellous run in the last World Cup at Brazil; Senegal ousting champions France in 2012.
Below are three predictions for teams that could do much better than expected in Russia. Incidentally, the current betting favourites for the World Cup are: Brazil 4/1, Germany 9/2, Spain 6/1 and France 13/2.
England: World Cup Odds 18/1
It’s very hard to gauge exactly where you should place England before a World Cup kicks off. On paper, they should always be among the favourites. They always bring a talented squad to the Finals, albeit one that tends to underdeliver on its promise.
Why should we treat England differently this time? Well, the main thing is the lack of expectation around Gareth Southgate’s young side. England are often beaten before they get on the pitch, such is the pressure from an overbearing media. They have no such concerns this time around because nobody – and that includes bookmakers – expects them to win.
The likes of Harry Kane, Dele Ali, Raheem Sterling, John Stones, Kyle Walker and Eric Dier are all integral parts of brilliant Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur sides – why can’t they replicate the club form in Europe? England may not win the World Cup, although don’t rule it out, but the odds of 3/1 for them to reach the Semi Final should not be dismissed.
Senegal: World Cup Odds 200/1
Alright, this is not a prediction that Senegal will upset those huge odds to lift the trophy, but they may reach a worthy achievement of getting to the knockout stages. Senegal have a host of Premier League players in their squad, including Liverpool’s brilliant Sadio Mané. They also find themselves in a very open Group H, featuring Poland, Colombia and Japan.
Senegal are given odds of 5/1 to win the group and 11/8 to qualify, both bets have a lot of merit. As an aside, all three of Senegal (5/1), Nigeria (10/1) and Egypt (11/2) are good value to win their groups – you can use this free bet calculator to work out the huge returns on that one.
Denmark: World Cup Odds 100/1
Denmark’s main ambition will be to navigate their way through a tricky Group C, featuring France, Peru and Australia. The Danes are favoured to join France in the knockout rounds, but they can arguably go one better and top the group at odds of 9/2. France may have more stars, but Denmark are a more settled side.
Does the Premier League have a more underrated player than Christian Eriksen? He is a brilliant performer for Spurs each week, but also the talisman for a very competent Denmark side. Only Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo bettered Eriksen’s tally of 11 goals in qualifying. So, instead of predicting Denmark’s fate, how about predicting that Eriksen will be top scorer in Russia at huge odds of 100/1?