Group H looks to contain the most potentially interesting quartet of teams. Each nation represents a different continent, and with no super power present, they can all harbour hopes of reaching the last 16 and perhaps pushing even further.
As intriguing as this combination of countries is, it doesn’t make things easy from a World Cup betting perspective. This can be illustrated by the fact Group H is the only one which doesn’t feature a team who are odds on to win it.
Colombia are the favourites to come out on top, and can be backed at 6/5 with Karamba. Poland are the highest placed Group H team in the FIFA rankings but don’t be fooled by that; they have gamed the system by contesting very few friendlies in order to protect their ranking. The Poles have the incredible talent of Robert Lewandowski up front, but no group winner in European qualification conceded more goals than they did. It definitely makes sense to expect goals in Poland’s matches.
From their 10 qualification games, both teams scored seven times, and every single match saw over 2.5 goals. The likes of Montenegro and Kazakhstan both scored twice against Poland, so there’s every chance the teams in Russia can.
One side who definitely might are Senegal, who face Poland in their opening match. The Lions of Teranga played four away matches in qualifying, scoring twice in all of them. Sadio Mané is their star man, and he ended a fine club campaign by scoring in the Champions League final for Liverpool.
The Liverpool man can be backed at 13/2 with Black Type to score first in the Poland match, and so provides better value than Lewandowski, who is the 3/1 favourite. However, the Bayern striker was the top scorer in European qualification, so he’s obviously worth keeping an eye on. His price of 33/1 with Ladbrokes to win the Golden Boot looks tasty, and the Poles should get out of the group.
Whether Mané or Lewandowski score or not, there should be goals when their nations clash. You can get 11/8 with BetVictor for over 2.5 goals, and that looks a decent punt. Colombia take on the group outsiders, Japan, in the other opening match. The Asian team are available at 9/2 with Genting Bet to win the game, which is the longest price of any side in the six matches in this group.
Their long price looks justified too. Japan may have beaten Paraguay 4-2 in their final warm up match, but they lost four and drew one of their five games prior to that. However, while it may be hard to make a case for a Samurai Blue win, Japan didn’t concede more than once in any of their away games in qualifying, and Colombia haven’t been great recently either.
José Pékerman’s side drew their last two games 0-0, and only won seven of their 18 qualifying matches. They should see off the Japanese, but it’s unlikely to be a goal-heavy encounter. BetBright have odds of 4/6 that at least one side draws a blank, and under 2.5 goals is the same price. Both bets are definitely worth considering for your selections for this game. It’s also stats like these which go towards explaining why Group H is the favourite to be the group with the fewest total goals.
Royal Panda have odds of 5/1 for that to be the case, and while there are some leaky defences in the group, there are unlikely to be many thrashings either. This bet could be worth a look. One other eye catching bet related to this group is for Senegal to be the best performing African team at the tournament.
They are the favourites in this market, and can be backed at 9/4 with William Hill. This may seem odd at first, as they are priced to finish third in Group H, but as this group looks fairly open it’s definitely possible to make a case for them.
Their main rivals in this market are Egypt, who stand a good chance of qualifying from Group A. However, they will be without the talismanic Mohamed Salah for their first match, and if he doesn’t return in form then his side may struggle.
Senegal also have a strong defence – they kept five clean sheets in their eight qualification games, and only conceded five goals in total. They’ve also made three opposition shut outs in their last four matches, so if that form continues in Russia then it won’t take many goals to see them through the group.