The first of 3 group stage rounds has already been played and the World Cup is therefore well under way. So far we have seen some really surprising results as several of the big favourites have failed to deliver, this means that many of the groups are very open. Let’s take a look at how the tournament has looked so far and what we can expect from the second round.
The opening game between Russia and Saudi Arabia went, as expected, in favour of the hosts but perhaps more so than expected. The 5-0 thrashing of the Middle Eastern side was not something you’d want or expect to see in a World Cup, even if they are assumed to be the weakest team in the tournament. Nevertheless, all credit to Russia for putting their best foot forward and setting the tone for the rest of the teams. The other matchup of group A saw Uruguay struggling to find back to old World Cup forms as they got past a Salah-less Egypt with a 1-0 victory. This means that the Russians throne atop the group and look comfortable going into the rest of the tournament, while Saudi Arabia, Uruguay and Egypt all have a job to do, with the latter most likely getting the help from their star man Mo Salah in the next round.
Russia Points: 3 Goal difference: 5
Uruguay Points: 3 Goal difference: 1
Egypt Points: 0 Goal difference: -1
Saudi Arabia Points: 0 Goal Difference: -5
The first really remarkable result came in the most anticipated game of the group stage; Portugal vs Spain. The neighbours and bitter rivals had a lot to settle and it was easy to see as they went head to head. On a normal day, scoring 3 goals would secure a comfortable victory for the Spaniards, but not this time, not with a Cristiano Ronaldo on form. The Portuguese star who knows the Spain team well through Real Madrid racked up the first ever hattrick scored against Spain in a World Cup and secured an impressive 3-3 result for his country. This means that group B has Iran on top after their surprise victory over Morocco, while the battle between Spain and Portugal is likely to come down to goal difference if they both deliver for the remaining 2 games.
Iran Points: 3 Goal difference: 1
Portugal Points: 1 Goal difference: 0
Spain Points: 1 Goal difference: 0
Morocco Points: 0 Goal Difference: -1
Next up was France and Australia. Many expected this to be an easy encounter for the European giants but it turned out to be quite the struggle. In a game that saw one penalty for each side and a goal line technology-goal the French side got away with all 3 points after a less impressive 2-1 victory. They are certainly happy about coming away with the points but with Denmark’s 1-0 win over Peru they find themselves in tough competition. The Danes are looking rather impressive but are aware that they still have a lot of work to do in order to keep their position, meanwhile France will have to improve their finishing if they want to remain amongst the favourites.
France Points: 3 Goal difference: 1
Denmark Points: 3 Goal difference: 1
Australia Points: 0 Goal difference: -1
Peru Points: 0 Goal Difference: -1
In group D a very impressive Croatia showed their strength and eased past a struggling Nigeria side with 2-0. With this kind of performances we could easily see the Croats delivering an impressive World Cup and causing trouble for a lot of teams. Less impressive was Argentina as they were tamed for a heroic Iceland side to a 1-1 draw. Despite having the ball more or less the whole game and constantly pressing forward, the South American could not break down the team from the country of merely 337 000 people and therefore failed to win the opening game of a World Cup for the first time since 1990. Croatia are therefore in charge of the group while Iceland have a golden chance if they can keep their performances up. Argentina on the other hand are kicking themselves and know they will need to improve with the pressure on Messi increasing for each day.
Croatia Points: 3 Goal difference: 2
Argentina Points: 1 Goal difference: 0
Iceland Points: 1 Goal difference: 0
Nigeria Points: 0 Goal Difference: -2
In group E, all eyes were on Brazil as the 5-time world champion took on Switzerland in their opener. The big favourites however struggled and could not capitalise on their chances against a battling Swiss side. Coutinho’s first ever World Cup goal was a real beauty but wasn’t enough as their opponents pulled one back and held them to a 1-1 draw. This allowed Serbia to trade their hard fought 1-0 win over Costa Rica for a spot on top of the group. Brazil’s performance have left many wondering what might be wrong and a lot of the blame falling on Neymar as the superstar failed to deliver on the night. One thing is for certain; changes will have to happen in the Brazil camp if they want to fight for another trophy.
Serbia Points: 3 Goal difference: 1
Brazil Points: 1 Goal difference: 0
Switzerland Points: 1 Goal difference: 0
Costa Rica Points: 0 Goal Difference: -1
The first round of the World Cup had more surprises in store for us as reigning world champions, Germany, fell to a 1-0 defeat against Mexico. Not a lot seemed to work for the Germans against an energetic and hard-working Mexican side. They now have a massive job to do in the next 2 games. Meanwhile, Sweden got past South Korea with a 1-0 victory after a VAR-given penalty. Seeing Germany on the bottom of their group with 0 points is an extremely surprising sight and it leaves you to wonder if they can fight back and defend their crown.
Sweden Points: 3 Goal difference: 1
Mexico Points: 3 Goal difference: 1
Germany Points: 0 Goal difference: -1
South Korea Points: 0 Goal Difference: -1
A group without any big surprises is group G. Here we saw Belgium looking incredibly strong in their 3-0 win of panama with Lukaku dominating in front of goal with his brace. England later took on Tunisia and had to work a bit harder, the game looked to end 1-1 for long before Harry Kane popped up with an overtime winner and his second goal of the game. This puts the two favourites of the group, Belgium and England on top with 3 points each while Tunisia and Panama will have to pull a big rabbit or two out of the hat if they want to advance.
Belgium Points: 3 Goal difference: 3
England Points: 3 Goal difference: 1
Tunisia Points: 0 Goal difference: -1
Panama Points: 0 Goal Difference: -3
In the last of the 8 groups there were more surprising results as the two biggest favourites, Colombia and Poland, both lost 2-1 to Japan and Senegal respectively. Colombia had a man sent off and a penalty against them within the first 4 minutes of the game and this ruined everything for them even though they fought heroically for the entire game. In the other game we saw Senegal, a team tipped by many as the potential big surprise this year and so far that seems to be plausible. These results make group H one of the most exciting groups to follow going into the next rounds as anything could happen if Colombia and Poland start gathering pace.
Japan Points: 3 Goal difference: 1
Senegal Points: 3 Goal Difference: 1
Poland Points: 0 Goal difference: -1
Colombia Points: 0 Goal difference: -1
After the first round of this tournament things are pretty much still wide open, and we have seen many players cash in on the big surprises of the World Cup so far. With so many early slip-ups it might be tempting to start going more and more for the underdogs as they seem to deliver more often than not, and with the high odds that follow it becomes even more appealing. With round 2 coming up right after the first there is no rest to be had as Russia will take on Egypt in the return of Salah, before all the other teams will get going again too. What interesting matchups and possible slip-ups can we expect from round 2?
Portugal vs Morocco: 20th of June at 14:00 (CET)
Spain vs Iran: 20th of June at 20:00 (CET)
France vs Peru: 21st of June at 17:00 (CET)
Argentina vs Croatia: 21s of June at 20:00 (CET)
Brazil vs Costa Rica: 22nd of June at 14:00 (CET)
Nigeria vs Iceland: 22nd of June at 17:00 (CET)
Belgium vs Tunisia: 23rd of June at 14:00 (CET)
Germany vs Sweden: 23rd of June at 20:00 (CET)
England vs Panama: 24th of June at 14:00 (CET)
Teams to keep an extra eye on going into these games are France, Argentina, Brazil and Germany as they all struggled in their opening games and will be desperate to show a better side of themselves in round 2. Teams that have the potential to thrive as underdogs in this round are Iceland and Sweden as they both looked good in their openers, especially with Sweden coming up against Germany that are surrounded by question marks at the moment. Lastly we would advise to check out the games of Belgium, Portugal and Spain as they all look to be on great scoring form and will most likely create great entertainment value once again. Plenty of chances to place some successful bets here and with ScandiBet’s boosted odds you will be certain to maximise your profit this World Cup!