Outright winner, Golden Boot, group winner….these are the three most popular bet types ahead of any edition of the World Cup.
There is money to be made in each, of course, but in a renewal of football’s greatest prize that appears to be wide open, it takes a brave punter to tie their colours to the mast of one team/player in particular.
There are stacks of other markets, however, that offer unique ways to bet on the World Cup while allowing you to take your imagination for a wander.
Many of us believe we have a decent insight into the beautiful game, and it is actually the sub-markets, rather than the traditional holy trinity, that best afford you the chance to put your money where your mouth is and pocket some profit from the battle for the Jules Rimet trophy.
And so, we thought we’d put together a guide to some of the more niche World Cup betting markets available, and offer some ideas as to where the true value lies.
Highest/Lowest Scoring Team
This pair of correlating markets are self-explanatory. We are simply looking for the team that will score more goals than any other in the competition, and on the flipside there is an opportunity to wager upon those we expect to struggle to put the ball in the net too.
Naturally, for the highest scoring team we are looking to the sides that we expect to reach the last four at the very least; the more games that are played, the higher the goal tally is likely to be. Germany took this accolade at the 2014 staging of the competition – not surprising given that they won the thing – although a caveat came in the form of their 7-1 trouncing of Brazil.
Two obvious factors spring to mind: who will go deep and who has an easy group? Combine these two forces and we won’t go far wrong.
Perhaps Brazil at 4/1 with William Hill are the smart bet here. They bludgeoned 41 goals in qualifying at a rate of better than two per game, and their group of Switzerland, Serbia and Costa Rica hardly looks the most imposing. The depth of their attacking options – Firmino, Coutinho, Neymar, Willian, Fred, Gabriel Jesus and so on – ensures that even if they rotate their squad, goals will surely not be in short supply.
As for the lowest scoring team, Panama (6/1 with William Hill again) look to be out of their depth somewhat. The Central Americans will surely be a collective fish out of water in deepest, darkest Russia, and they must surely be one of only a handful of nations in history to make the World Cup finals despite recording a minus goal difference in qualifying; not aided by netting just nine times in ten outings. Group rivals England don’t concede many goals, Belgium have the excellent Alderweireld-Vertonghen defensive partnership and Tunisia shipped just four in six in their own qualification campaign.
Highest Scoring Group
The highest scoring group at World Cup 2014 featured a result that arguably nobody saw coming: the Netherlands’ 5-1 tonking of Spain. That scoreline feels like a lifetime ago given the two teams’ respective fortunes since.
That Group B also featured a 3-2 win for the Dutch over Australia and a 3-0 victory for Spain over the Socceroos, and so a couple of big wins skewed this betting market quite considerably.
On paper, at least, there are some rather stodgy-looking groups to ‘look forward to’ this summer, and you can imagine Groups A and C in particular to be tepid affairs.
Punters appear to have two options: back Group G (7/2 with William Hill), where Belgium and England are expected to dish out thrashings to Panama – thus inflating the goal tally, or try a closer-fought bracket like Group H (8/1), which features a handful of top attacking talents in Poland’s Robert Lewandowski and Colombia’s James Rodriguez – who won the Golden Boot in 2014 – and Radamel Falcao.
This market, in reality, is essentially betting Brazil and Argentina against Europe, but with the South American duo backable at 15/8 with Ladbrokes that seems more than fair.
After all, the Brazilians are the second favourites to lift the trophy and Argentina, finalists in 2014, have a pantheon of attacking talents to call upon.
Punters in this case are essentially opposing favourites like Germany, France and Spain….is that worth a flutter with Europe quoted at 4/11 with Bet365?
To Win a Game?
Here’s a rather sadistic betting market with some intriguing value offered by bet365 and other bookies: we can back individual nations to win any of their three group games….or not.
As you can imagine, the odds on the big boys to win a single game are prohibitive and untouchable, but elsewhere there are some intriguing plays to consider.
Australia are a hearty 8/11 not to win a game, and for a side that didn’t impress in qualifying and lacks a natural goalscorer that is tempting indeed. They play Peru, which is where the risk comes in, but surely won’t overcome France or Denmark.
Iran are just 1/2 not to win a game – can anybody see them triumphing against Spain, Portugal or Morocco? – and surely there is warmth in backing Iceland (8/11) to win at least once in a bracket which contains the hapless Nigeria.
Elsewhere, it is easy to get behind South Korea (8/11) and Panama (1/2) failing to win a tie against Germany, Mexico and Sweden and Belgium, England and Tunisia respectively.
First Time Winner?
There have been eight previous World Cup winners: Germany, Spain, Italy, Brazil, France, Argentina, Uruguay and, who could forget, England.
A number of sportsbooks, including 10Bet, are asking punters whether there will be a first-time winner in 2018, and in truth the 1/5 available on ‘No’ is a great bet if you need a quick tenner or so.
Let’s think about it rationally: for this wager to ‘fail’, we would need somebody like Belgium, Colombia or Portugal to lift the Jules Rimet trophy. We’re not sure about you, but we see that being a longer shot than the 1/5 odds offered.