Emmanuel Petit’s World Cup group stage betting preview

As we pull out the bunting, hang up the flags and plan how to watch as many games as possible, World Cup winner Manu Petit gives his view of each group...


Group A

Uruguay and Egypt are the two sides I believe will qualify from Group A. Russia might have a shot because they are hosting the tournament. However, if Salah is fit for Egypt, it makes it very difficult for Russia.

Head over to PaddyPower.com for the latest World Cup betting odds

Uruguay should top the group and it’s between Egypt and Russia after that. If Salah makes it though, my bet is on Egypt. It’s been a long time since Russia performed well at a big tournament.

I watched Russia in their last couple of games against France and Austria, they’ve conceded too many easy goals and they’ve found it hard to score them at the other end.

Group B

I don’t believe it’s much of a shock to say Spain will finish first here for sure and they are one of my favourites to win the World Cup. They play Portugal in their opening game and they’ll definitely beat their neighbours. That leaves Portugal with no option but to win their remaining two games after.

If Morocco beat Iran in their first tie, then they have a right shot at pipping Portugal. Morocco have good players like Mehdi Benatia in defence and Younes Belhanda from Galatasaray, there is a lot of talent in their squad. That puts Portugal in danger for me.


Group C

France will finish top of the group, I have to say that! After that, Denmark should be second. They are a strong team, with some quality individual players like Christian Eriksen.

Australia will push them all the way though. It’s Peru’s first World Cup since 1982 and it’ll be a bridge too far for them to go through.

Group D

This is a very tough group and it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen. Iceland could yet again be the surprise package. They cause their opponents so much trouble with the way they operate and how they unite on the field like their fans do in the stands – it’s amazing. Argentina, Croatia and Nigeria have got talented and powerful players too though.

Take Croatia, for example; their midfield alone has Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić and Mateo Kovačić – they are fantastic. With that being said, I’ll bet on Argentina. They have tremendous talent up front and in the midfield, even if their defence is a bit weak. Tossing a coin for second, I’ll just about go for Croatia.


Group E

Of course, Brazil are my pick for first in Group E. I believe Switzerland’s experience can drag them to second over Serbia and Costa Rica. The Swiss basically have the same group of players from their previous World Cup and European Championship campaigns and some of them are playing in the top leagues with their clubs.

They are improving year after year, they are always a difficult challenge when you play them.

PaddyPower.com has all the your World Cup betting needs answered

Neymar returns from his injury at Paris Saint-Germain and he’s going to be fresh heading into the tournament. He has a huge weight on his shoulders, whether it’s his critics at PSG or the expectation from his home country.

This could be his World Cup. Jealousy surrounds him because he is so skilful and sometimes he can be a little bit arrogant on the pitch, but that’s the way he plays. We buy tickets to watch players like that though, like it or not. He’s a great player and he is the kind operator who can win the World Cup for his country.

Group F

I wouldn’t bet on South Korea getting out of this group. Mexico have got some good players, but they are not the team they used to be.

Germany are one of the favourites to win it all, but I wouldn’t put them on the same level as Spain or Brazil though because they’ve lost some top players. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm were leaders and they are no easy to replace.


Group G

Be careful England! Tunisia are a good team. They have a tight defence that is very hard to score goals against. They have some talent up front too and it’s the first time they’ve qualified since 2006, so they’ve big expectation around them.

Belgium will have learned from the disappointment of the Euro 2016 in France and it was amazing what they did in their qualifying group winning nine of their 10 games. Belgium and England should go through though. The question that always surrounds England is, ‘can they live up to the expectation at a big tournament?’ I remember the last generation with Scholes, Lampard, Gerrard, John Terry and Co.

They were great players, but they did nothing. The problem with the English players is dealing with the demands from the Premier League, both mentally and physically with no break.

I do wonder how fresh they are going to be for the World Cup. Their body language on the pitch during Euro 2016 looked so tired on the pitch. I hope they will be properly ready for this one.

Group H

Poland, Senegal and Colombia are all good teams, so I’ll take away Japan when it comes to qualification.

I’ll make my decision between the other three and I’ll take Colombia first of all. They’ve got a very good side. Senegal will just get out in front of Poland because I believe we’ll get one surprise from an African team and they could be the ones to supply it.

PaddyPower.com has all the your World Cup betting needs answered