So, what’s in store for our World Cup 2018 betting tips this week? Well, week 2 has ended and the masks have dropped. Some teams that failed in the first week have got back on track; others showed that their surprising results were not a fluke. Several teams have secured their places in the knockout round, but still have their final position in the group in mind as this would mean a slightly easier opponent in the first round of the knockout stage. On the other hand, the fight for the second round still goes on for many of the teams. With many results still uncertain, it is sure that we are going to witness a very interesting Week 3 of the World Cup.
IRAN – PORTUGAL
Portugal again! We have chosen this match as it seems that Spain will most likely have and easier job against Morocco, whose players have already packed their bags… but will surely do their best for a decent result. Iran v Portugal on the other hand is a match that can make difference, even though at first glance Portugal shouldn’t have too many problems against this much weaker opponent. However, this is the World Cup, an event that has already witnessed some shock results.
Portugal had lot of problems against Morocco. The African side had more ball possession in the game (54% to 46%), more goal attempts (16 to 10), with the Portuguese having not a single shot on goal in the second half. Once again it was Ronaldo who did all the work; he scored his fourth goal in the fifth minute of the game. After that, Portugal posed no real threat. It is obvious that they struggled against the organised and almost fanatical Moroccan defense… and they should expect the same against Iran. Although we predicted that Portugal and Spain will fight for first place, it seems that Portugal will have to do some serious sweating to go through to the knockout phase.
Ronaldo to the Rescue
Iranians were more than lucky to win the first week match against Morocco, but were definitely not that fortunate against Spain. They were at the back end of an accidental goal against Spain and then had one disallowed (which, in all honesty, was the right call). In this game, Iran will base its game on strong defense and quick counter attacks, a system which, at some moments, worked nicely against the Spaniards. Taking into account that victory is the only option for the Iranians, it looks like they will have the same approach in the match against Portugal, to a certain degree. If the system fails, the Iranians will have to attack.
Our betting prediction for the game is that match will end up similarly to Portugal’s previous one, with a difference that the first half will end up in draw. Portuguese know how to play these games and will eventually win against Iran.
NIGERIA – ARGENTINA
After first two weeks, group D is definitely not looking as we expected. With Croatia sitting on top, the other three teams all still have a chance to win the remaining place in the knockout stages. The chances are not really even, as Iceland probably has the “easiest” task since the Croats will likely rest its key players in its final group game. In this game, only victory works for the Vikings and they will go for it. As funny as it sounds, Nigeria and Argentina both have similar chances to progress further. However, Nigeria will be more than satisfied with a point if Iceland manages to grab a tight win with less than a two goal difference. Argentina, however, needs a victory… a very convincing one at that, with more than three goals difference. That is only if Iceland doesn’t win!
At this moment, the Argentina team looks like a traveling circus; no one knows his own role and, even worse, who is in charge. Even though they were marked as one of the favourites to win, Argentina is facing a shocking elimination, since the two times World Cup winner is currently at the bottom of the table with one point and -3 goal difference. Last time Argentina failed to pass the first round was in 2002, when they managed to win only one game, (ironically against Nigeria). Latest news reports claim that players, led by Messi and Mascherano, are going to boycott the coach and that they are going to set the starting eleven themselves. This will definitely have an impact on the team’s morale, which is already well shaken. This is the only thing that could impact the team that has the quality to defeat everyone.
History Repeating Itself?
Nigeria has finally risen from the dead after pretty pale game against Croatia. Although everyone was expecting another defeat, the team played an excellent game against Iceland scoring two goals. As they are somewhat in control of the situation, Nigerians will concentrate on defending as a draw suits them just fine. Although this is assuming that Iceland will not win by more than two goals. With impressive physical attributes, they will focus on counter attacks and try to use the weaknesses of Argentinian defence.
If the Argentinians overcome this crisis, they can do wonders. However, it looks like this will be the summer to forget for their fans. Nigeria has already showed that they can cope with teams such as Argentina as they managed to defeat them 4-2 last November. Our betting prediction is a draw, possibly the first one in the World Cup without a goal.
MEXICO – SWEDEN
This is the only group where everything is still open. Even the last positioned South Korea with 0 points still has the chance (theoretically, to be honest) to secure the second place. Also, the first placed Mexico still haven’t quite booked a ticket to the second phase of the tournament. After stunning defeat to Mexico, Germany has recovered its winning mentality by snatching a last minute goal against Swedes, and the German’s chances are now pretty good as we all believe that they will be able to win against South Korea. Unlucky Sweden, on the other hand, has to defeat Mexico by more goals than Germany if they want to see the knockout round.
Mexico has showed that they are not a push around team in the tournament by defeating Germany – and have further verified their quality against South Korea. They are currently sitting at the top of the group with every right. Being a very quick team that transforms from defence to offense in matter of seconds, the Mexicans are most likely to wait and counter attack the Swedes, as draw is just enough for them to secure the first place and to avoid Brazil in the knockout stage. Those in favour of statistics should know that Mexico has never managed to win three games in a row in a World Cup tournament.
Three in a Row?
How well Sweden will play against Mexico all depends on how well have they recover from the last minute defeat against Germany. It was a serious blow that put them in this difficult situation. Since Germany’s victory is almost assured, the Swedes will have to attack from the get go in order to score more goals than Germany. This all-out attack will make critical holes in the team’s defence, which will certainly be exploited by quick Mexican attackers.
Despite the bravery of Swedish players, this may well be their last game in Russia; they just don’t have the quality to beat the Mexicans, especially by a load of goals. Our betting tip is in favour of Mexico.
ENGLAND – BELGIUM
Everything is clear in Group G. England and Belgium have justified their titles of group favourites and have secured a pass to the next phase. Now there is only a duel for the first place and the chance of a match against the weaker opponent from Group H. From what we have seen so far, it seems that we will probably see quite a few goals. Both teams have scored 8 goals in two matches, being, alongside Russia, the most effective teams on the tournament. Now, they face each other in the derby of the Week. Since both teams have secured their passes to the knockout stage, they will probably put key players on rest.
After the Week 1 struggle against Tunisia, England demolished Panama 6-1. From the first minute of the match, it was obvious that there would only ever be one team on the pitch. The England players were calm, the pressure was gone, and they showed the full spectre of their quality. Will the next match be the same? Well, it depends on the Belgians, who will be much harder opponents for the young and inexperienced English players. As Gareth Southgate indicated, he will rest some players. Therefore Rashford and Rose are likely to get the chance to play in this next World Cup match.
A Rest for the Best
The Belgians, like the English, showed that this tournament will be much different to Euro 2014, when the team failed to make any significant impact. In previous two games, Belgians were playing their game; they never allowed the opponent to question the final outcome at any point. As Roberto Martinez stated, he will also rest some key players.
With this in mind, it is questionable how the game will end; starting line-ups will most probably be different than those in previous two matches. In any case, both teams have great attacking capabilities, with slightly problematic defences. Therefore, our betting prediction would be to bet on over 2.5 goals.