Here we go then! There is nothing quite like the buzz of a World Cup summer. 32 teams. Wall-to-wall coverage. Four weeks of footballing utopia. Here we take a look at the best bets from the opening round of matches.
One of the standout games from the first week is Spain’s clash with Portugal. La Roja had their colours lowered in spectacular fashion four years ago when, as defending champions, they were thumped 5-1 by Netherlands. More heartache followed at Euro 2016 but they’ve regrouped brilliantly and are unbeaten in 20 matches since then — though with Julen Lopetegui off to Real Madrid after the tournament, who knows how they will cope. Portugal won Euro 2016 but if ever a team rode their luck at a tournament (they won just one game inside 90 minutes) it was they and despite their issues Spain, our pick to win it, can get off to a flying start by winning this Group B opener on Friday evening.
Selection: £5.50 on Spain to beat Portugal at 10/11 with bet365.
The Tasty Treble
England (4/9) have the players and the momentum to kick off their campaign on Monday with a win over Tunisia. The Carthage Eagles have the potential to be awkward opponents but will definitely miss their talisman Youssef Msakni, who won’t be in Russia after suffering a serious knee injury. A youthful Three Lions may take a while to get going but should make their class tell in Volgograd. Elsewhere, Uruguay (8/13) should be too good for an Egypt side that’s scored just six goals in ten games and who could be without Mo Salah for their opener on Friday. Finally Brazil (2/5) will be seeking to lay the ghosts of 2014 to rest and the Selecao can win their initial Group E clash against Switzerland to land a treble with bet365 paying over 2/1.
Selection: £5 on the treble at 2.26/1 with bet365.
The First Goal Flutter
Antoine Griezmann looks the natural choice to score first for France in their Group C fixture against Australia on Saturday. The 1998 winners have lost just one of their last 11 matches and should be too hot for Australia. Griezmann, the Euro 2016 Golden Boot winner, is a 100/30 shout to score first and can get Les Bleus off to a flyer.
Selection: £3 on Griezmann to score first at 100/30 with bet365.
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The Wildcard Tip
Saudi Arabia could spoil Russia’s party in Moscow on Thursday, where the draw looks interesting at 100/30. This Russian side clearly lack quality and while they couldn’t have hand picked easier opening-day opponents, Stanislav Cherchesov’s men may struggle here. They’ve not beaten anyone since October 2017 and the Saudis — who played well in losing 2-1 to Germany last Friday — cannot be completely dismissed and could claim a share of the spoils.
Selection: £3 on Russia v Saudi Arabia draw at 100/30 with bet365.
The Bookie Basher
Marcus Rashford’s thunderbolt and fine overall display against Costa Rica has surely cemented his claim for a starting berth in England’s opener against Tunisia, and the Manchester United star could be worth a punt at 9/2 to score first in Volgograd. Doubling Rashford to notch first with Edinson Cavani to do likewise for Uruguay against Egypt could prove profitable for punters this week.
Selection: £2 on Rashford – Cavani first goalscorer double at 22.83/1 with bet365.
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