An early FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Preview
As it is the end of the final international break before the World Cup begins in less than 80 days time I thought it would be good to do a preview of some of the teams who I think are value prices at the moment in the Betfair outright market. I'm looking for teams with the potential to trade lower during the tournament rather than teams who are favourite to win it. Brazil, Germany, Spain and France could very well be the semi-final line up and it would not surprise me one but but I see little long term value in backing teams between 5.0-8.0 odds in such a big field.
When looking through my Panini sticker book this year (yes I am outraged at the price of the stickers but still buy them, they hit me right in the nostalgias), one team stood out to me in terms of world class talent. No, not Germany who have a great team ethic but I think lack a little at the back, not Brazil who have a great forward line but not a whole lot else, not Spain who are in great form but not quite the powerhouse they one were and not France who look solid in most areas with exciting young talent bustling thoughout the team.
The team that stood out to me was the mighty Belgium! Whilst, looking at their squad I was amazed just how great their players are on paper, I will run through some of the names:
- Defence - Alderwiereld, Vermaelen, Vertonghen, Kompany
- Midfield - Nainggolan, De Bruyne, Dembele, Hazard
- Forward - Mertens and Lukaku
Now imagine how much money that team would cost you on Football Manager or how envious a club side would be if Barcelona or Real Madrid had this first team squad. You have at least 8 world class players here and the back ups are easily international class also. The time is ripe for Belgium to finally fulfill their potential and they probably won't have a better chance than this summer. They breezed through their, admittedly easy, qualifying group undefeated. Belgium made the quarter-finals in 2014 in Brazil, I think if they get that far again their odds will come in from the current generous odds of 13.0 odds (I would have them below 10.0). If Belgium get past Panama and Tunisia and finish in the top two in group G, they will play either Poland, Senegal, Columbia or Japan, so getting to the last 8 should be a minimum target, although, I see no reason they cannot win it if things go their way.
My next pick is purely based on odds and that is European Champions Portugal. It is hard to turn down odds of 30.0 odds on the European Champions no matter how fortunate they may have been to win that title. Although they lost their first game to Switzerland in qualifying they won every other game, including a 2-0 home win againt the Swiss. When the pressure has been on in the big matches they have been delivering and a team with Cristiano Ronaldo in (in what will almost certainly be his last World Cup) can never be totally dismissed. Forget friendly defeats to Holland and the like, this team won the Euros and won easily against the Swiss in that must win match to qualify, these guys thrive on the big stage and their is no bigger than the World Cup. They are in a group with Spain, Morocco and Iran, so top 2 should be within reach. The thing that makes this price even more appealing is that they will face Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Uruguay in the round of 16 should they get there and that gives them a good chance to make the quarter-finals here at least.
My final two picks are real value longshots and even play in the same group. They are Denmark 100.0 odds and Peru 340.0 odds. Massive prices on two teams who could make a deep run at the world cup in a group with France and Australia, you have to feel that one of these two will get second place and a game in the last 16 at least. Should they make it that far they will face Argentina, Iceland, Croatia or Nigeria. With Argentina looking a shadow of the team that got to the final four years ago I would not be surprised if Denmark or Peru gave them a good game. Peru drew both games against Argentina in qualifying and finished only two points behind them. Denmark won 5-1 away to Republic of Ireland to book their spot at the finals and with a solid squad (certainly their best in many years) they will feel good about getting to the knockout stages and maybe beyond.
So these are my value picks:
Main bet - Belgium at odds of 13.0
Small bet - Portugal at odds of 30.0
Very small bets - Denmark at odds of 100 and Peru at odds of 340