2018 World Cup: Group H Betting Guide
The last, but certainly not least, group betting guide is for possibly the most-balanced foursome in the opening stage. Club teammates will feature on the favored squads as Robert Lewandowski leads Poland while James Rodriguez hopes to keep his club form for Colombia.
Let's get to it.
Senegal versus Colombia to go under 3.5 goals (2/9): There is a very good chance that the last matchday of the group will be the decider for these two nations. If both teams can get a point from Poland then the winner may advance, so there would be no reason to be too risky in the beginning of the match as one goal could be all it takes to advance. They both have attacking talent. Falcao and James will lead Colombia while Sadio Mane is the main man for Senegal. Mane's inclusion in the Champions League Finals means he has not been involved with Senegal that much, so they have scored a total of one goal in their last three matches. Colombia have been shut out in their last two matches by other World Cup teams, making it even more likely to hit the under.
Poland and Colombia dual forecast to advance (6/4): The returns from the safest bets in this group will generally bring more than others, which tells us that the oddsmakers are not convinced by one team or another. However, numberFire's projections give Poland a 53.98% chance of winning the group while the probability of Colombia finishing second is 38.39%. These numbers are superior to Japan and Senegal. Two of Poland's worst showings in qualifying were without Robert Lewandowski, the cycle's leading scorer. However, he is healthy and has the ability to exploit all of the defenses in the group. James has been in top form since joining Bayern Munich, and Colombia's high press should lead to opportunities in this group.
Senegal eliminated in the group stage (4/7): The biggest issue with Senegal may be that manager Aliou Cisse does not have a grasp on the best tactics for his team that is full of attacking talent. They are unfamiliar with the World Cup stage, and the freestyle play that could rely on magic from Mane is not enough to move through. They also have a major concern at keeper with Khadim N'Daiye, who became famous for faking an injury during the Africa Cup of Nations. If they can get on the same page and be more than just speed and strength, then Senegal is a threat. However, the lack of experience, game plan, and keeping will be their downfall.
Poland to win the group, Japan to finish bottom, and Robert Lewandowski to score two-plus group goals (7/1): This one has a higher return, but may actually be more secure than the safe bets. Lewandowski averaged a goal every 75 minutes in all competitions over the past year. He is the most prolific player in Poland history. He will be needed to get past Senegal in the opener, which would likely push Poland to the group win. Japan have been underwhelming and have a manager that has only been in charge for two months. They lost 2-0 in their only match under Akira Nishino.
Poland to reach the quarterfinal (23/10): This would mean one victory past the Group Stage in a match against England or Belgium. Our projections have Belgium winning the group over England, so the knockout round match to reach the quarterfinal would pit Poland against England. Our projections have this as a virtual tie or a game that could possibly take extra time. The match would pit two of the world's best pure strikers, Lewandowski and Harry Kane, and surely be a must-watch duel. However, Poland's wild card may be Arkadiusz Milik. If he is healthy, he can be the difference-maker, even if he comes off the bench.
Poland to come from behind and win versus Japan (9/1): Admittedly, this is not as much of a long shot as those posted in other groups. However, the group is so even that every team but Japan may have something to play for on the last matchday. They can play loose and catch a tense Poland squad. However, Japan are lacking talent and having nothing to play for does not provide much motivation. For Japan players like Keisuke Honda, the realization that this is likely their last World Cup will have set in prior to the match. The final matchday of Group H may have the most drama and the emotion tied to the aging Japan players as well as Poland's hopes of moving on makes for a compelling show down.