2018 World Cup: Full Preview : The complete rundown is here!

World Cup 2018 Preview
Last Updated : 22nd May, 2018 By Alex M

Event Venue: Russia, N/A. BBC & ITV.

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We've explored plenty of markets at FREEbets.org.uk in the lead up to the World Cup, but how about a proper preview of the whole tournament in one place? Of course, we've known the groups for some time now, but now that the countries have announced their squads and they are about to play their warm-up friendlies, we have a better grasp of some of the markets. Who will win the Golden Boot? Who will win the Golden Ball? Who will win their group? Who will win the whole damn thing?! Take a look below.

Group A winners

Russia, Uruguay, Saudi Arabia & Egypt

This isn't the most star-studded group at the tournament, but the interesting here is that anybody could plausibly go through. In terms of talent, one has to think that Uruguay are the favourites here with Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani joined by some top peers plying their trade in Europe. Russia are on home soil, but Egypt would have been fancied ahead of them before Mohamed Salah got injured in the Champions League final. Saudi Arabia are the outcast here and we can't look past Uruguay.

Get Uruguay at 1/5 to win Group A with William Hill (18+ t&c's apply)

Group B winners

Spain, Portugal, Morocco & Iran

Now the quality jumps up. From the get-go, Spain and Portugal are the runaway favourites to win this group but let's not forget: Spain performed terribly at the last World Cup and Holland hammered them 5-1. Portugal are the reigning European champions and with Cristiano Ronaldo in their ranks, they can win any game. Morroco and Iran have to hope they can spring a surprise, but Spain will dominate the possession in just about every fixture and it's theirs to lose - Portugal doesn't have the quality in depth that Spain does.

Get odds of 8/15 with Betfair for Spain to win Group B (18+ t&c's apply)

Group C winners

France, Denmark, Peru & Australia

This one isn't as clear-cut as one might think. Yes, France have one of the most exciting squads at this year's finals, but Denmark have Christian Eriksen to trouble them, Peru shocked pretty much everyone with their performance in qualification - they're actually ranked 11th in the world right now! - and Australia are the plucky side that never gives up. Realistically, if you're going to lay your money on someone winning this group, are you going to bet against Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, Ousmane Dembele and co.?

France are available at 2/7 with William Hill to win Group C (18+ t&c's apply)

Group D winners

Argentina, Nigeria, Croatia & Iceland

This is an interesting group. Now, Argentina has five-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi in their ranks and probably the best attack in the world, but Nigeria are always a tough task with their athletic, strong side and Iceland showed at Euro 2016 and indeed, in qualifying for Russia, that they should never be underestimated. However, Croatia have one of the best midfields in the world and they know their style. Argentina might have the best player in the world, but they certainly don't have the best team. Croatia can upset the odds here.

Coral have Croatia at 13/5 to win Group D (18+ t&c's apply)

Group E winners

Brazil, Switzerland, Serbia & Costa Rica

It would be a true shock if Brazil failed to win this group. The five-time World Cup winners rampaged through qualification with just one loss and look to have the best balance in living memory with some true match-winnrs, too. Switzerland and Serbia have a few individuals of their own and Costa Rica showed they are no pushovers back in 2014, but Brazil are head and shoulders above the competition here.

Brazil can be found at 2/5 with Betfair to win Group E (18+ t&c's apply)

Group F winners

Germany, Mexico, Sweden & South Korea

Much like the previous group, Germany has more than respectable competition. Mexico are an all-footballing side with a dangerous attack, Sweden showed how difficult and resolute they can be to defeat Italy in the playoffs and South Korea are a plucky side with surprising technical capabilities. But, the same result as Brazil's group: Germany as just too good to finish anything but top here. After winning the Confederations Cup and Under-21 European Championship last summer, the country is just totally stacked in every area.

Betfair have Germany at 1/3 to win Group F (18+ t&c's apply)

Group G winner

Belgium, England, Tunisia & Panama

Panama are undoubtedly the underdogs in this group and Tunisia aren't exactly fancied to go far in the competition; it's England and Belgium most people are expecting to secure the top two spots in the group. It's plausible that both nations pick up six points against the other and then face each other to decide who goes through top, but both teams have a recent history of underperforming in tournaments. Smart money might say Belgium, but Gareth Southgate's renewed England can surprised people here.

England are listed at 6/5 with Coral to win Group G (£20 free bet)

Group H winner

Poland, Senegal, Colombia & Japan

Much like Russia's group, anyone could win this one. Senegal have a fearsome forward line led by Sadio Mane that will certainly do damage while Poland have the goal machine Robert Lewnadowski in their ranks. Colombia have James Rodriguez, of course, while Japan have Shinji Kagawa. Overall, Senegal look like they may have the best overall side out of the four - despite being rather bereft of creativity in the middle - but Poland are an industrious side that can grind out results.

Poland are rated as 4/7 with Coral to win Group H (18+ t&c's apply)

Golden Boot winner

When considering the Golden Boot winner, you normally have to consider who they are playing in the group stages and how far they are likely to get. While it would be an idea to assume the winner of the World Cup will also produce the top goalscorer, that hasn't happened since Ronaldo collected the Golden Boot for Brazil in 2002. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are obviously hot favourites given another 40-plus goal season for both men, but Harry Kane can rightly through his name in the hat, too. Kane has the chance to score goals against Tunisia and Panama in the group stages and Group H isn't littered with world beaters in the knockout stages either, so he has every chance of scoring five or six, which usually is enough to win the award. However, with Brazil being favourites in the tournament, Man City's Gabriel Jesus is bound to have chances and he's just the man to put them away.

Gabriel Jesus is 16/1 with Betfair to win the Golden Boot (18+ t&c's apply)

Outside bet: Coral are offering odds of 16/1 on Harry Kane winning the Golden Boot (18+ t&c's apply)

Golden Ball award

This award goes to the best all-around player and this only ever really gets awarded to someone who takes his team deep in the tournament. Lionel Messi (2014) and Diego Forlan (2010) failed to win the tournament the year they won the awards, so that's not something you need to necessarily consider. One man prized to have a breakout tournament is PSG wonderkid Kylian Mbappe. The Frenchman has been electric over the past two seasons and in a super-creative French side, Mbappe can score the goal and take sides on that will make the world take notice.

Ladbrokes have Kylian Mbappe at 40/1 to win the Golden Ball award (18+ t&c's apply)

Overall winner

Ahh, the question everybody wants to know. There are several contenders. Brazil, Argentina, France, Germany, Spain and Argentina are all capable of going all the way while outside bets like England, Belgium, Portugal and Croatia deserve some consideration, too. Brazil certainly had a brilliant record in qualifying and with Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho as a three-pronged attack, Brazil could be unstoppable. The Lionel Messi-effect of Argentina is still evident but the cast around him haven't aged well. France and Germany are legitimate contenders as they have a terrific balance of experience, talent and youth. France have the best young player in the world today and Wayne Rooney at Euro 2004 will show you what that kind of youthful energy can do. Spain shouldn't be discounted either. They have retained a lot of their successful core and have added wonderful young players like Marco Asensio, but if Diego Costa isn't firing like he wasn't in Brazil, then they will come unstuck. While of course it is tight, Brazil are the smart pick. They beat Germany on their own patch back in March and their squad has tremendous balance, athleticism and depth. Thaigo Silva, Marquinos, Marcelo, Douglas Costa, Roberto Firmino, Fred, Casemiro and Alisson are just some of Neymar's supporting cast - who is clearly one of the top three players in the world.

Get Brazil at 9/2 with Coral to win the World Cup (18+ t&c's apply)

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  • Brazil have won the World Cup a record five times
  • Germany are the holders of the competition after winning in Brazil in 2014
  • Russia are hosting the World Cup
  • England have one of the youngest squads at the tournament
  • The first game is June 14

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