World Cup Group C – Betting Preview and Prediction

by Forrest Vaughn
on February 19, 2018

Group C hosts one of the tournament favorites France, and two possible dark horses in Denmark and Peru. This makes it one of the most exciting groups to watch, as there’s no telling how it will turn out in the end. The mighty France hasn’t been very convincing with their recent showings, despite boasting one of the most talented squads of the competition. The Danish squad will bank on Tottenham star Christian Eriksen to make the most out of their run. They are generally seen as favorites for second place, but in my eyes, Peru is the most overlooked team of the tournament and an equally stronger contender for qualification. Lastly, we have the Australians who are considered the weakest of the bunch, but historically capable of a surprise or two.

Let’s have an in-depth look at each team and their chances of progressing to the knockout stages.

France

  • Group Winner Odds: 3/10
  • Tournament Winner Odds: 11/2
  • Next Round Progression Odds: 1/25
  • FIFA Ranking: 9
  • Manager: Didier Deschamps
  • Key Players: A. Griezmann, P. Pogba, R. Varane, N. Kante, K. Mbappe, O. Dembele

France surprised the world when they lost out to Portugal in the Euro 2016 final on home turf, but that shouldn’t take away from the impressive performances that led them there. Most notably, they managed to overthrow current World Cup holders Germany in the semi-final with a score of 2:0.

In the lead-up to the World Cup, France secured first place in the qualifiers, but not without a few bumps on the road. Their record was 7 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss. In a shocking display, one of their draws came in the form of a goal-less affair against Luxembourg, a team that lies 84th on the FIFA Rankings, comprised mostly of players scattered across minor soccer leagues and second division teams of prominent soccer countries.

Although their performance against Luxembourg can be written out as a one-off, it wasn’t the first time that the French showed impotence in attack. The talent is certainly there, players such as Dembele, Mbappe, Coman, Griezmann and Lemar are all devastating threats in attack, but the problem often lies in the creativity department.

For this, much will depend on Manchester United superstar Paul Pogba, whose skills are unquestionable, yet he is still to show the consistency that separates the best from the rest. He will be relied upon as the main creative engine in midfield, which is why he must deliver if the French are to stand toe-to-toe with sides such as Brazil, Argentina, Germany and Spain.

I see Les Bleus seeing off their group stage opponents and finishing 1st place, but I cannot speak for their performances later on in the tournament. They certainly possess the talent capable of ending their trip to Russia with the trophy in hand, yet it remains to be seen if Deschamps will get the engine running and turn France into the unstoppable side it appears to be on paper.

Australia

  • Group Winner Odds: 14/1
  • Tournament Winner Odds: 250/1
  • Next Round Progression Odds: 13/4
  • FIFA Ranking: 36
  • Manager: Bert van Marwijk
  • Key Players: T. Cahill, A. Mooy, E. Jedinak

The Socceroos are always an entertaining team to watch. They may not be a soccer powerhouse, but they always make sure to leave their hearts out on the pitch. Australia has always been a team unafraid to mix it up with an all-out attacking playstyle, even in the face of big opposition. Now with Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk at the helm, the chances of that are as likely as ever.

Russia will be Australia’s fourth consecutive World Cup appearance, but this time around they were forced to reserve their ticket to via the intercontinental play-offs. Their qualifying run left them at 3rd place due to a goal differential. They were tied in points with Saudi Arabia and finished just a point behind Japan. Still, their opponents weren’t powerhouses to begin with, so this says a lot about Australia’s chances when it comes to making it out of their group.

Australian top scoring legend Tim Cahill will be called upon to serve his country once again, but at the age of 38, it would be unfair of fans to expect him to replicate his performances from 4 or 8 years ago. The Socceroos must place their hopes on British league talent in the likes of Huddersfield’s Aaron Moy, Celtic’s Tom Rogic and Aston’s Villa’s Erik Jedinak, who will be in charge of controlling the midfield.

Defense is their biggest weakness, with no notable names to speak of. Upfront, however, coach van Marwijk has a marginally better selection to choose from. Hertha Berlin’s Matthew Leckie, Luzern’s Tomi Juric and Bochum’s Robbie Kruse can all be decent threats in attack, the three attackers share 19 goals between them.

Overall, Australia’s chances of progression are slim at best, and I wouldn’t bet on them in any serious capacity.

Peru

  • Group Winner Odds: 9/1
  • Tournament Winner Odds:200/1
  • Next Round Progression Odds:9/4
  • FIFA Ranking:11
  • Manager:Ricardo Gareca
  • Key Players: Farfan, E. Flores

In light of the World Cup, Peru is flying under the radar. This can only suit them – if anyone dares underestimate them, it will give them an even greater edge than they already have.

Sure, the Peruvian national squad is not a star-studded one by any means, but they did make it out of the hyper-competitive CONMEBOL qualifiers. They managed to hold Argentina to a draw on not one, but two occasions. Even though they had to ultimately qualify through the playoffs by seeing off New Zealand, it would be foolish not to credit them for their performances so far. After all, they finished the qualifiers with just one point below Colombia and two points behind Argentina.

Peru can be a deadly team that doesn’t shy away from taking the fight to their opponents. Most of their matches are filled with goals and entertainment. Of course, this can work in their favor as much as it can go against them. In the qualifiers, they scored 27 and conceded 26 – a fact that can attest to their guns blazing playstyle.

In attack, much will have to depend on Edison Flores, who was tied with Paolo Guerrero on the goal-scoring chart for his team in the qualifiers. However, Guerrero himself will miss out on his trip to Russia as he failed a doping test in December. He was handed a 12-match ban after testing positive for cocaine.

Still, Peru is a team’s team – they have shown time and time again their ability to work together as a cohesive unit, and that is their biggest strength. I see them fighting strongly for that second place in their group. Their match vs Denmark will be crucial for this, the two will meet on the 16th of June at Saransk Stadium.

Denmark

  • Group Winner Odds: 9/2
  • Tournament Winner Odds:80/1
  • Next Round Progression Odds:57/100
  • FIFA Ranking:12
  • Manager:Åge Hareide
  • Key Players: Kjær, C. Eriksen, P. Sisto. Y. Poulsen, A. Christensen

Denmark has been one of the biggest up-and-coming European soccer nations as of late. Historically, the Danes marked their greatest run of form around the turn of our century. They reached the quarterfinals in France in 1998 – their great accomplishment to date – and made it to the round of 16 in 2002 in SK & Japan.

Since then, Denmark managed to qualify for the World Cup only once, in 2010, but they did not make it out of their group due to losing out on two occasions.

This time around, however, they are led by world-class talent in Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen. Yet, the Danes are far from a one-man team. Yes, Eriksen is their only shining star in midfield, but up front they can bank on plenty of offensive talent – RB Leipzig’s Y. Poulsen, Celta Vigo’s brilliant winger and La Liga top-assister Pione Sisto, as well as the often-polarizing figure Nicklas Bendtner.

What’s even more impressive is Denmark’s defensive talent. Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen has been a wall for Chelsea so far in the season. Their defensive duo will be completed by the experienced Simon Kjær, who turns out for Sevilla on a regular basis.

Denmark reserved their ticket to Russia through the playoffs by dismantling the Republic of Ireland in convincing fashion (5:1). Their most notable qualifier result was a 4:0 thrashing of their group winners Poland. This leaves plenty of hope for Danish fans ahead of the World Cup.

Conclusion/Prediction

Group D will answer a lot of questions ahead of the knockout stages. Most importantly, every fan will be eager to find out how Les Bleus will perform and will they justify their favorites tag. Denmark is also a team to watch as one of the latest up-and-comers in European soccer, but they will have to earn their right of progression by seeing off the dangerous Peru.

My prediction puts the French atop their group, with Denmark ultimately edging off Peru by a slight point margin or simply a goal differential.

Group Stage Outcome Prediction:

  • 1.France
  • 2.Denmark
  • 3. Peru
  • 4. Australia
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