I like the Netherlands to win this group easily, they have an excellent manager and the opposition is really not up to much. Senegal can scrape through as the 2nd qualifier as Ecuador have really struggled to score in recent games against weaker opposition than they find in this group. Qatar lack the class to be competitive in this tournament though they will at least pick up a point in my opinion
I do have England winning but they don’t get 9 points. Iran may be a dark horse team in this group, they’re tough to beat and have had a nice string of results. But the USA are really struggling for form and I believe Wales will match up well enough against them to beat them leading us to a Wales vs England showdown for the group, but England will have too much pace for an aging side and they’ll take this group
Argentina are comfortably the best team in this group and should advance with not too many issues. I like Poland as the second team, they have better form at the moment than Mexico and can beat them in game 1 to get 2nd place. Saudi Arabia don’t have the class for this sort of tournament.
This group features the first real upset in the standings, I like Denmark to beat France. France are lacking a bit in midfield and Denmark beat them comfortably in the Nations League lately. These sides are a step ahead of their rivals with Tunisia likely to knock off Australia.
This group has been seen as a group of death and I definitely see Japan getting competitive with the other sides in this group. I like Spain to go undefeated and their midfield may overwhelm Japan while Germany have struggled to win games lately which costs them in terms of topping the group. Costa Rica are probably there to make up the numbers
This is another group where I can see the potential for an upset. Croatia have been in excellent form leading up to this tournament so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they usurped Belgium at the top of this group, but for now I have Belgium scraping in on goal difference. I project Canada to be one of the more disappointing teams of the tournament on recent form and Morocco can be competitive without troubling the top 2.
I have Brazil winning this group but by no means will this be easy. Switzerland and Serbia come into this tournament in good form and have caused Brazil problems in previous world cups, I have Brazil just about winning the group from the Swiss but don’t be surprised if there is an upset here.
This is another group where I have it very tight at the top. I have Portugal going through top just because Uruguay have struggled for goals as of late but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Uruguay were top of this one either. I’ve given Korea 3 points and Ghana 0 which may be harsh on Ghana as this was the toughest group for me to predict.
Netherlands vs Wales:
The Netherlands will likely have too much for Wales here. They’re a well drilled side that will have plenty of momentum from the groups and can win 2-0.
Argentina vs France:
This is the game of the round. I would take Argentina winning this one, they have a long unbeaten streak and I believe France will be vulnerable in midfield and defence despite all of their attacking brilliance, Argentina win this 2-1.
Spain vs Croatia
I’m sending this game to penalties, this is a very evenly matched game and I can see it being a 1-1 draw after extra time. For the purposes of this article I’ll do a coinflip to decide games I send to penalties. For this one, the winners are Croatia.
Brazil vs Uruguay
Based on how the group stages went, I’ll have had both teams being very scrappy in the groups but I have to give the edge to Brazil here. They have a good recent record against Uruguay and may be able to scrape a 2-1 win.
England vs Senegal
This is a good matchup for England, Senegal would be the weakest team in the last 16 and based on this scenario would’ve struggled in Group A. England will have too much class and win 2-0.
Denmark vs Poland
I have a lot of time for Denmark in this tournament. They’ll be full of confidence after beating France and Poland have been losing to the top ranked teams as of late. Denmark take this 3-1.
Belgium vs Germany
Germany don’t really lose games at the moment and Belgium are a little bit in decline. I think Germany can come through a group where they’ll have been pushed hard by Spain and they may have a bit too much pace for an aging Belgium side and they can win this tie 3-1.
Portugal vs Switzerland
I’m predicting another upset here. Portugal for me won’t be a fully unified side and they were dreadful at the back in the Euros. The Swiss are an underrated team and I believe they will play more as a team than Portugal and can get a 2-0 upset win.
Netherlands vs Argentina:
Both teams are seriously unlucky to bump into each other at this stage as they are arguably 2 of the 3 best teams left. Given both sides will have a lot of momentum and are very well matched I’m going to send this one to penalties after a 1-1 or 0-0 draw. The winner of the coinflip and going through would be the Netherlands.
Croatia vs Brazil
Croatia have made themselves very difficult to beat and I don’t believe Brazil will be able to score enough in this game to overwhelm them, but Croatia are an aging side and the quality of Neymar may be enough to give Brazil the win in extra time with a 2-1 score.
England vs Denmark
These teams already have recent European Championship history and England prevailed that time but I think Denmark will turn them over this time. England had home advantage last time and Denmark were missing Eriksen, with those factors and the dip in performances from England in their favour. I’ll take Denmark to win this one.
Germany vs Switzerland
This is the 3rd game of the round I’m sending to penalties. Germany lack the killer instinct to beat teams at the moment that are in form so they’ll have to rely on penalties to go deep in the World Cup. This time Germany do prevail on penalties.
Netherlands vs Brazil
I’m going to take the Netherlands here. I trust them at the back with Van Dijk more than I do Brazil with their aging centre backs and with Van Gaal, they’ll have an excellent tournament manager who can do well with strikers. I’ll take a 2-1 Dutch win.
Denmark vs Germany
I’m going Denmark again here. Germany’s luck is due to run out in this tournament and Denmark have been playing better than them over the last year. I’ll say 2-1 Denmark.
Netherlands vs Denmark
I’d take the Netherlands here, they’ll have beaten better teams to get to this point and will have better individual players than Denmark. I see this being surprisingly comfortable as the top half of the draw is far stronger than the bottom half. I’ll take a 2-0 Dutch win and they would win the World Cup.
Alternate Scenarios if some of my tighter groups go different ways:
Overall Thoughts and Teams to bet Outright:
On my scenarios the recurring teams seem to be the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, Argentina and Brazil. These teams look to be regular Quarter Finalists though it will be a strange tournament as it’s likely that 4 of the 6 best teams in the tournament will end up in the top half of the draw which leads the best betting route in the bottom half of the draw as it’s highly likely that the Netherlands, Brazil and Argentina end up on the same side of the draw and games between those sides may require penalties. If I was doing a pre-tournament outright bet I’d be looking at Denmark and Uruguay maybe as the value teams as they could land places in the bottom half of the draw, England are also interesting as they’re the most likely team to win their group of those that would end up in the bottom half of the draw so they should have an easier route to the final and look extremely likely to get to the quarters at minimum. I’d be looking to bet the runners up of Group E (Spain or Germany, especially Spain) if they fell into the bottom half of the draw and Uruguay and Denmark especially become very interesting if they manage to win their group. So take the 28/1 on Denmark and the 40/1 on Uruguay, bet whoever comes 2nd in group E if it’s Spain or Germany, especially if it’s Spain and the Netherlands at 12s is an ok punt. I’d be looking at players like Depay, Messi and Andrej Kramaric if you wanted a really rogue bet as top scorer.