2018 World Cup Group H Future Odds and Predictions
One of my favorite groups in the World Cup is Group H, where I believe that we will see quite a few upsets. The group lacks a monster team, but Colombia and Poland are expected to take the two top spots. However, the other two teams in the group are Senegal and Japan, two solid and quick teams that can and will cause problems. Especially to Poland, because Colombia has more players who can carry the team. In any case, this is going to be a really exciting group, and there are a lot of opportunities to be taken advantage of.
Colombia is participating in their second consecutive World Cup, as they made a really deep run in 2014 in Brazil. They easily topped their group, after that, they eliminated Uruguay by 0-2 in the round of 16 and barely lost to Brazil in the quarter-finals. James Rodriguez was by far their best player, who was the top scorer in the tournament and also got the award for best goal. When it comes to qualifiers for this World Cup, Colombia struggled to finish at the 4th spot (7-5-6). They failed to win any of their last four matches against Venezuela, Paraguay, Brazil, and Peru, and just barely escaped the playoffs. Colombia has some world-class players up front, with Monaco's Radamel Falcao being a constant threat to opposing defenses. His killer instinct is just what Colombia want, while James Rodriguez is also a deadly force in the midfield. Juventus’ star winger Juan Cuadrado will also torment the opposing defenses, while they also have some solid defenders in Tottenham’s Davinson Sanchez and Milan’s Christian Zapata.
Poland has made some great strides in world soccer over the past years, and they have the best generation of players since the 70s. After three consecutive participations in the final stage of the EURO Cup, they finally made it to the World Cup after two unsuccessful tries. Their best player is without a doubt Bayern Munich's forward Robert Lewandowski, who was the leading scorer of the qualifiers with 16 goals. Poland easily finished at the top of their respective group (8-1-1), scoring 28 goals while conceding 14 in the process. They are in a very competitive group, as besides Colombia they are also threatened by Senegal and Japan. Other than Robert Lewandowski, they have a pretty solid goalkeeper in Juventus’ Sczezny and even a roughneck defensive line. However, their midfield is not very strong, and this might prove to be a problem against the strong and fast sides of Japan and Senegal.
Senegal is in the World Cup for just the second time in their history, after a very successful run in 2002 where they were eliminated in the quarter-finals against Turkey. This time around they had a really easy job in the qualifiers, where they finished at the top of Group D (4-0-2). They scored ten goals and conceded just three in the process. After a dry season where they didn't produce any decent players, Senegal now has a great generation of players who can make a difference. Their best player is Liverpool's winger Sadio Mane, Everton’s midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye, Napoli’s towering defender Kalidou Koulibaly, and West Ham's midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate. Moreover, they also have some other players that have played in major European competitions. They have some speedy and strong players in their squad, and they will inevitably cause problems to whoever underestimates them. They can easily grab one of the two top spots of the group, especially if they can force either Colombia or Poland to a loss.
Japan is not new to the World Cup, as this will be their sixth consecutive time in the competition. Since their first appearance in 1998 in France, they have made some great strides of improvement overall. They are one of the most stable and prosperous Asian sides in recent years, and they will try to make a decisive run in the competition. Japan easily finished at the top of their qualifying group with 20 points (6-2-2), despite losing to Saudi Arabia in the final match. They have a lot of experienced players on their roster, players who have played in some of the biggest European leagues so far. Their biggest star is Dortmund's winger Shinji Kagawa, who was voted the best Asian in 2012 and has 89 caps with 29 goals with the national team. Moreover, they have Leicester's pacey forward Sinji Okazaki, Galatasaray’s Yuto Nagatomo, Hamburg’s Gotoku Sakai, Marseille's Hiroki Sakai and Southampton's Maya Yoshida. However, one of their most significant weaknesses lies on the bench, where coach Akira Nishino is not very experienced in such big competitions.
2018 World Cup Group H Predictions
I have been preaching this for quite a while to friends and family, that Senegal is one of the most dangerous teams in the competition. I will gladly pick then to qualify from this group (+140), as their pace can cause problems for Poland's defense. Moreover, I will also go with Colombia, Senegal, Poland, and Japan to finish in that exact same order (+650). As for the top goal scorer of the group, Robert Lewandowski is the clear favorite (+325), but a bet on Colombia’s Radamel Falcao might be worth it (+600).
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