Lionel Messi’s Argentina finally won a major trophy last year, and they look like a good bet to dominate World Cup Group C in Qatar.
Who do Bettors Favor?
Checking out the best-rated online sportsbooks, it’s clear that Argentina are rated as the dominant team here. They are priced as short as -250 with some bookmakers, significantly shorter than their two main rivals. Poland and Mexico look closely matched at +450 and +500, respectively, while Saudi Arabia are the Group C underdogs and are available at +2000.
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Betting on the World Cup Group Winners
This year’s World Cup is being held at an unusual time, in the middle of the regular season. It is also being hosted by the first Middle-Eastern nation to stage the tournament, Qatar. Both of these factors are likely to have an impact on the teams in Group C, with the heat and humidity most obviously being a problem for Poland and, to an extent, Argentina.
The basic format of the tournament, however, remains unchanged. There are 32 teams taking part, and they are divided into Groups of four. Within a Group, each team will play three times, with the top two going forward to the Round of 16. The Groups are seeded, which in theory means there is an even spread of ability, though form and fitness may render those seedings obsolete by the time the competition kicks off on November 20.
Argentina Have Cup Winning Potential
Argentina last won the World Cup in 1986, but they go into this tournament with more optimism than has been the case at recent editions.
Last year, led by Lionel Messi, they ended a 28-year wait for a major international trophy, winning the Copa America, and to make it even more memorable, they won it in Brazil. Messi was key to that success, and his shift of priorities in recent months has been great news for Argentina.
For most of his career, it has seemed that Messi focused on Barcelona first, the national team second, but his move to PSG seems to have changed things. He has usually played well for Argentina but now he seems more driven to succeed, and that good be bad news for other nations at this World Cup. He leads a strong squad that includes Angel Di Maria, Cristian Romero, Paulo Dybala and Lautaro Martinez and that has genuine World Cup winning potential. Argentina are a short price but a solid bet in Group C.
Lewandowski is Poland’s Trump Card
Robert Lewandowski is Poland’s all-time leading goalscorer and one of Europe’s most renowned strikers, but he has a modest World Cup record, playing just three games in the tournament in 2018 with no goals.
That doesn’t even begin to reflect his ability and his stature in European football, and he will be keen to put that right in Qatar. He will have plenty of support from a strong Polish squad that finished close behind England in the qualifying campaign, and although Poland’s relatively weak defense will be a problem if they hope to go deep into the tournament, they will be confident of beating both Mexico and Saudi Arabia.
While Lewandowski is Poland’s trump card, they have other talented players in their ranks, including set-piece specialist Piotr Zielińksi, goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and striker Arkadiusz Milik and they look like a good bet to get out of the Group.
Mexico a Risky Wager
Mexico are World Cup regulars but have never threatened to challenge the bigger nations. They have consistently reached the knockout stages, but they have only gone further twice: in 1986 and in 1970, getting as far as the quarter-finals in both years. Notably, those tournaments were staged on their home soil, and away from high altitude conditions, they have not been as effective.
There are no stars in the current squad, and although they have worked hard to qualify in second place through the CONCACAF qualifying competition, they were not impressive and lost both of their toughest games, away against Canada and the USA. As a result, they look overrated at their current price and would represent a risky wager in the Group betting markets.
Early Exit for Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia will have the advantage of being familiar with the prevailing conditions in Qatar, but that won’t be enough to enable them to close the talent gap on the other teams in Group C.
To their credit, they are well organized and topped their qualifying section, beating Japan, Australia, and China along the way, but the three other teams in this Group are ranked higher than all of those three, and while it is possible that Saudi Arabia could scrape a draw if one of their rivals underperforms in a one-off game, I can only see an early exit for the Green Falcons in Qatar.
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