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Betting on Which World Cup Teams Will Be the Best in Their Region

| June 4, 2018 12:00 am PDT
FIFA World Cup 2018 Russian Top Teams by Region

Most countries have already announced their final squads for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and are now working on their preparations. Some have the ambition to win the tournament, while for others even a point or a win would be a success.

I already shared my thoughts on the favorites and have also picked some underrated teams that could have a solid performance. I’ve made my predictions for the top goal scorer, too, and there are still LOTS more betting markets to look at.

I’ll be writing posts on as many of these markets as I can between now and the start of the tournament. If my picks are all on point, hopefully we’ll all have a nice pot of winnings by the end of the final game.

There are no guarantees, of course, but I can promise you one thing. NONE of my recommended picks are guesswork or anything like that. I put a lot of time and effort into analyzing everything before sharing my thoughts with you.

I suggest that you do your research and analysis, too, but if you simply don’t have the time, then at least you’ll benefit from the insight I have to offer.

Today, I will take a look at which country will do the best from specific continents and regions. I believe there are some good opportunities to win some cash here, so let’s get started and see where the value is.

Top African Team

I’ll kick things off with Africa. Here are the available odds.

Senegal3.00
Nigeria3.25
Egypt3.75
Morocco8.00
Tunisia9.00

Obviously, the bookies believe Morocco and Tunisia have no chance because of the groups those two countries are part of. Morocco will have to face Iran, Portugal, and Spain. Tunisia is with Belgium, England, and Panama.

The situation of both nations is similar. They will each play against 2 very strong European teams that should be easily in front of them in the final standings.

Both Morocco and Tunisia do have disciplined squads that could beat Iran and Panama respectively, though. This would mean 3rd place in the group or 17-24th place in the final standings.

It’s hard to make an accurate prediction, as I believe Panama is a better team than Iran, which means Morocco has better chances to take 3 points.

At the same time, if both teams have the same number of points, I expect Portugal and Spain to beat Morocco with more goals compared what England and Belgium will do against Tunisia.

What I’m saying is that I can’t really split these two teams. It doesn’t really matter, though, as neither are likely to be the best African team.

Senegal is the favorite of the bookies, and this is the logical choice. The team has some decent players and a superstar like Sadio Mane. Another advantage is that the country actually has a chance to get out of a group with Colombia, Japan, and Poland.

Next in line is Nigeria. I believe this is the best African team in this competition, as the squad combines experience with some youngsters like Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi. However, Nigeria is in the toughest group of the tournament.

They will face Argentina, Croatia, and Iceland. It seems impossible to predict what will happen. In my opinion, Argentina and Croatia are the best teams, though. At the same time, Iceland has proven to be a tough opponent at Euro 2016.

This is why I don’t see any value in the price for Nigeria to be the top African nation. The quality is there, but the level of the opposition is scary.

The last African team in the soccer World Cup finals in 2018 is Egypt. The country has one of the best players in the world right now. Mo Salah has more than 40 goals for Liverpool and is eager to help his country achieve something in Russia.

Salah picked up a bad injury in the Champions League Final last month but is expected to be fit again for the World Cup.

Egypt has other solid players, too, most notably Mohamed Elneny, who was one of the better Arsenal players towards the end of the season.

A quick look shows that Egypt is in a tricky group with Uruguay, Saudi Arabia, and hosts Russia. The African team certainly has a chance to go through, though.

In fact, I believe Egypt has more of a chance of progressing than any other team from the continent. The price of 3.75 is good value, and that’s where my money is going.

PICKEgypt3.75

Top Asian/Oceanian Team

Here are the odds for Asia and Oceania, which have been combined into one region for the purposes of this betting market.

Japan2.75
Australia4.00
South Korea4.50
Iran5.00
Saudi Arabia12.00

I will leave Iran and Saudi Arabia out of the picture, as I believe both will finish bottom of their group. The face strong opponents and simply don’t have the quality to beat them.

I think South Korea is also in a tough spot. The nation is in the same group as Germany, Mexico, and Sweden. The reigning world champions Germany are a massive favorite to win, and both of the other teams seem better than South Korea, at least on paper.

Mexico has the experience and quality to finish above the Asians. Sweden is probably the weakest opponent, especially without Zlatan Ibrahimovic. However, the European team still has some decent players, and South Korea may easily finish in last place.

The only chance for the country to be the best from Asia/Oceania is to finish third and for no one else from the region to qualify for the knockout stage.

This is actually a plausible scenario if you look at the other two teams.

Australia will face France, Peru, and Denmark. Another tough group, but the Kangaroos will fancy their chances against both Peru and Denmark.

Qualifying for the knockout stages might be a step too far, but it’s not impossible. Even if it doesn’t happen, Australia has the quality to finish third, which could be enough. The price of 4.00 seems like a reasonable choice.

The final team of the region is Japan, and this is the favorite of the bookies. The main reason is the quality of the side, which has players like Shinji Kagawa, who has found his form this season.

On top of that, Japan has a history of reaching the knockout stage at the World Cup. The country will play in one of the most unpredictable groups with Colombia, Poland, and Senegal.  All four teams have chances to progress from this one.

In terms of pure quality, Japan is probably the third or even the fourth best. However, the team spirit they have could help them.

I would say that Japan is the logical favorite among the teams from Asia and Oceania. However, the odds of 2.75 are not enough to offer any value. Australia has a good chance to do better, and the price of 4.00 is where I see the value.

PICKAustralia4.00

Top European Team

This is probably the most unpredictable continent. There are as many as 14 teams from Europe, including some of the top favorites for the tournament.

I will leave most of the 14 out of the discussion, as I can’t see them realistically challenging the best. That said, here are the odds worth your attention.

Germany3.75
France4.50
Spain6.00
Belgium8.50
Portugal17.00

I will start with Germany, as this is the current champion and of the biggest favorites in Russia 2018. The squad of the European giant is borderline ridiculous. The Germans have world-class players in many positions and a lot of depth.

Despite the fact that Lahm, Schweinsteiger, and Klose won’t be in Russia, there is still a lot of experience in this team. Germany can win the tournament, and for this reason, a price of 3.75 is actually pretty solid. This is a wager that I simply can’t ignore.

PICKGermany3.75

I’m not done with Europe yet, though. Keep on reading, as I’m actually picking two teams to back in this market.

One of the few countries that can compare to Germany in terms of quality is France. The likes of Pogba, Griezmann, Lemar, and Mbappe are just some of the big names in the team. However, I believe France is a bit behind Germany in two aspects.

The first one is the coach. I believe Deschamps has made some mistakes in the past, and I don’t trust him completely. Also, the Germans are more experienced than France.

Next in line is Spain. There was a period when the Iberians were the best team in the world, but that’s gone now. They still have quality, but they are behind both France and Germany.

On top of that, Spain is having some identity issues.

The famous tiki-taka is no longer working for the country, and the last two big tournaments were disappointing. I expect them to perform a bit better this time around, but not enough to challenge the top favorites.

Another team that has a lot of potential but did badly in the EURO 2018 is Belgium. They have the likes of Hazard, De Bruyne, Vertonghen, and a couple of other exceptional players.

I can see them easily getting out of the group and probably even reaching the last 8. However, it would take more than that to be the top European team, so I won’t put my money on Belgium, even at odds of 8.50

The last team I will include is Portugal. The price for them is 17.00, which is way too high for any reigning European champion that has Cristiano Ronaldo in its squad.

Sure, Portugal are not as good as Germany and France. Even Spain and Belgium seem better on paper. However, this team has one of the best players in the world and the confidence of winning Euro 2018. There’s some excellent value, hence my second pick for Europe.

PICKPortugal17.00

Top North American Team

In the surprising absence of the USA, here are the odds for North America.

Mexico1.25
Costa Rica5.00
Panama9.00

This is probably the easiest region to predict. There are only 3 teams, and Mexico is the overwhelming favorite. The country is traditionally strong when it comes to the World Cup. It usually manages to reach the knockout stages, and 2018 is not an exception.

Mexico will face Germany, South Korea, and Sweden in the group stage. I expect them to finish second, as only the current world champions are better.

I would leave Panama out of the discussion, as I don’t see a chance for them. However, Costa Rica shouldn’t be underestimated.

The small country managed to reach the quarterfinals in 2014, which was one step further than Mexico. The group of the team is tough and includes Brazil, Serbia, and Switzerland. Costa Rica does have SOME chance to progress, though.

Looking at the odds, I feel there is no value to be found here. Mexico is the clear favorite, but 1.25 is not enough. Costa Rica may spring a surprise, but 5.00 is about right, as it equals a probability of 20%. That’s roughly where I put their chances, so there’s no value to be had in my view.

Top South American Team

It’s time to take a look at the second continent that has real potential to produce a World Cup winner in 2018. If the winning team doesn’t come from Europe, it’s almost certain to come from South America.

Here are the odds for which South American team will do best.

Brazil1.83
Argentina2.62
Uruguay11.00
Colombia15.00
Peru51.00

I don’t want to be disrespectful, but I will start by removing Peru out of the equation. The absolute maximum of the country would be to reach the last 16 or so. This simply won’t be enough.

Let’s take a look at the rest of the bunch. Brazil is the big favorite with players like Neymar, Coutinho, Marcelo, Gabriel Jesus, and many others. The most successful team in the history of the World Cup has the attacking talent to hurt everyone.

The big question is if it has the discipline and defense to beat the likes of Germany and France. Even if that’s not the case, I can easily see Brazil reach at least the last 8.

Brazil IS the best team from South America, but the price of 1.83 is too low for my taste.

Next in line, at least according to the bookies, is Argentina. Lionel Messi is among the greatest players to ever grace the sport, and he has a lot of support. In fact, Argentina has lost the final in the last 3 major tournaments, including 2014.

The county had a lot of trouble qualifying for Russia, but this probably will be Messi’s last chance to win the World Cup and prove once and for all to even his critics that he is the greatest player to ever live. This kind of extra motivation, combined with the sheer quality of the squad, is a good reason to consider Argentina.

The last two teams from the continent have a lot of similarities. Uruguay and Colombia have strong squads, a superstar in Luis Suarez and James Rodriguez respectively, and a lot of passion.

Both have the potential of reaching the quarterfinals, but it would be tough to expect more than that. The odds of over 10 are tempting, but I simply can’t look beyond Argentina and Brazil.

I would say Brazil is the deserved favorite, but not by much. Since finding the best value is my strategy, I prefer to go for Argentina.

PICKArgentina2.62

Top Antarctican Team

Once again, Antarctica won’t be represented at the World Cup. Shame on you, Antarctica!

Just in case it wasn’t clear, I’m being tongue in cheek here. Antarctica doesn’t even have a soccer team that’s eligible for the tournament, as the region has no affiliation with FIFA.

Final Words

As you could see, my goal is not to simply predict which team will be the best from its continent. I did pick the favorite in some cases, but in other cases, I went for a team that’s considered an underdog to some extent.

This is because betting is all about finding opportunities with a positive expected value in the long run. You have to compare the probability of each outcome with the associated odds and get the best possible ratio of risk versus reward.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of value in betting, you should be. Even if you just want to follow my picks rather than make your own selections, it’s still a good idea to learn about the fundamental principles of successful sports betting.

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Jerry Summer

Jerry Summer has a wide-ranging interest in gambling and the gambling industry. He's made a living out of both playing poker and betting on sports.

The English Premier League and the NBA are among Jerry's primary areas of expertise. He's knowledgeable about many other sports, too, along with poker and several casino games.

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