Mon, Jun 18, 12:10pm by Staff Writer
The 2018 FIFA World Cup continued with group action over the weekend.
The Socceroos were unfortunate to lose their group C match against France in Kazan on Saturday afternoon 2-1, after a dubious VAR decision.
By no means disgraced, the 2-1 scoreline was a fair result given the balance of play, particularly in the final quarter of the match, which favoured France.
France are $7.50 favourites to win the World Cup, with Australia $1001 outsiders.
Group C action continued on Saturday, with Denmark earning a narrow 1-0 win against Peru in Saransk.
Peru were the feel-good story in the lead up to the Cup, given it is their first appearance in the tournament since 1972.
The football-mad nation was unable to get a late equalizer, after Yussuf Poulsen’s 59th minute goal proved decisive.
The first major shock of the tournament came when Argentina were neutralised by Iceland on Saturday night, in a 1-all draw.
Argentina are $12 favourites to win the World Cup and took an early lead through a Sergio Aguero goal.
Iceland responded almost immediately through Finnbogason, and an uncharacteristic miss from the penalty spot from Lionel Messi kept the scores knotted at a goal apiece.
In other play from group D, Croatia were expected to defeat Nigeria and they did, with a Luka Modric penalty in the second half sealing the 2-0 result, as they top group D.
Croatia are $29 to win the World Cup with Nigeria priced at $501 at Sportsbet.
The tournament big guns continued their slow start to the competition on Monday morning, with Germany losing to Mexico in Moscow.
Mexico scored through Rodrigo Lozano in the 35th minute, with the Germans looking a shadow of their title winning selves from 2014.
Despite poor pre-World Cup form in draws with Saudi Arabia and Austria, Joachim Low’s side was expected to account for Mexico with ease.
Instead, the 1-0 loss has made navigating through group F more difficult than it needed to be, with Germany’s remaining fixtures against Sweden and South Korea now must-win matches.
They have slipped to $8.50 in the outright market, with Mexico firming to $41.
Despite having the bulk of possession in Rostov, Brazil were unable to crack Switzerland for a match-winning second goal, settling for a 1-all draw.
Coutinho’s 20th minute goal was cancelled out in the 50th minute by Steven Zuber, as the gritty Swiss earned a tremendous result.
Brazil are the favourites to win the World Cup at $5, with remaining group games against Costa Rica and Serbia.
Serbia managed a 1-0 win against Costa Rica, with the Central American minnows struggling in front of goal.
An Aleksandar Kolorov strike just before the hour was enough to separate the two teams, with Serbia holding a two-point advantage in group E.
Group action continues on Monday evening with three matches.
Sweden are favourites to beat South Korea in Nizhny Novgorod, with the Scandinavians priced at $2.05.
South Korea are $4, with the draw paying $3.15. A win for either side would place them atop group F with Mexico.
Tottenham’s Heung-Min Son carries the hopes of South Korea in this match, with the team’s recent results being poor.
Under 1.5 goals at $2.40 is the play in this match, given that both sides will not want to lose.
Belgium are fifth favourites to win the World Cup at $11 and will have taken lessons from some of the tournament heavyweights struggling in their opening matches as they face Panama in Sochi.
Belgium are the shortest-priced favourites in the opening group games at $1.14, with Panama paying $19 to win. The draw is $8.
The match to be a draw at half-time and Belgium to win at full-time is paying $4, and looks better value than other options in the market, or any in the handicap market.
Given that only one match in the tournament so far has been decided by more than one goal, Russia’s thumping of Saudi Arabia, taking a handicap would be a risky bet this early in the tournament.
England begins their 2018 World Cup campaign with a winnable match against Tunisia in Volgograd.
The only injury concern heading into this match for England is Marcus Rashford, who returned to training on Friday and will be short of match fitness.
Tunisia will be gallant and difficult to break down defensively, with England known to struggle on the big stage, particularly when teams side behind the ball.
A draw at $4.50 appears a worthwhile bet given the slow start many teams have had to the tournament thus far.
England are $1.40 in the head-to-head market to win, with Tunisia $8.50 outsiders.
FIFA World Cup Match Odds – Sportsbet
Sweden $2.05 Draw $3.15 South Korea $4
Belgium $1.14 Draw $8 Panama $19
Tunisia $8.50 Draw $4.50 England $1.40
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