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Excitement is building for the much-anticipated 2022 World Cup. With 32 teams about to embark on the first World Cup in the Middle East, there is already much debate as to what may lie ahead. Here, we take a closer look at the group stage. With only the top two teams progressing from each of the eight groups, there is much to consider before placing those important bets.

Group A - Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands

On paper, one would be drawn to the Netherlands in Group A, a team that Louis Van Gaal has saved from a crisis since returning to the helm. However, it is Aliou Cissé’s physically impressive Senegal who are most likely to cause them a challenge, with the likes of Sadio Mane and Edouard Mendy amongst their ranks. Qatar’s focus will be on ensuring they don’t become only the second host not to qualify for the knockout phase, and while nothing is a foregone conclusion, they will need some upsets to amass enough points to avoid this fate.

Bet on the Group Winner

Possibly to be decided on matchday one as the Netherlands take on Senegal. The favourites are likely to be the Oranje, but the African champions are no walkover.

Bet on Teams to Qualify

If staking all your money against a single team feels too risky, why not place a bet as to which team or teams you think will qualify? This means that if your favourites miss top spot, you will still take home some winnings as you hedge your bets on a first or second place finish.

Group B - England, Iran, USA, Wales

England head to Qatar as one of the favourites, having been semi-finalists at the last World Cup. However, after some disappointing matches in the Nations League, many are questioning if they have what it takes to lift the trophy. The race for second spot is set to be tight, with the USA, Wales, and Iran all believing they will be in with a chance of qualification. No one is expecting much from Iran, but their coach, Dragan Skocic, has built a solid team that conceded only four goals in their third qualifying phase. Wales will be looking to Gareth Bale to inspire the Welsh Dragons.

Straight Forecast Bet in Group B

This bet requires you to predict the teams that will finish first and second. Selecting England in one of the top two spots feels like a safe bet, but the challenge of who will qualify with them is where the deliberation begins. With such a tight group, you could expect some interesting odds.

Bet on Both Teams Scoring in Wales v England

One of the most anticipated match-ups of the group is the match dubbed the “Battle of Britain” as England take on Wales. With England’s Harry Kane and Wales’ Gareth Bale both holding the ability to produce goals out of nothing, backing both teams to score could prove a popular bet.

Group C - Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland

Argentina is heading to Qatar hoping Lionel Messi can cap his career with a World Cup winner’s medal after inspiring his team to Copa América success. Argentina’s former coach, Gerardo Marino, will be leading Mexico as they look set to battle it out with Poland for the second qualification spot. Saudi Arabia coach Hervé Renard knows what it takes to win, having won the Africa Cup of Nations with two different countries, but the Middle Eastern nation appears to fall short of their Group C competitors on paper.

Group of World Cup Winner Bet

This bet requires you to predict which group the World Cup winner will come from. There are several favourites, but Argentina is certainly up there. To secure the best odds, you will want to place a bet early, but doing this ahead of the tournament always poses its risks.

Bet on Argentina Scoring in Both Halves Against Mexico

Representing the first of the major continental rivalries in the group stage, this will be a must-watch match. Played out on November 26th, it could secure Argentina’s spot in the last 16. Consider betting on La Albiceleste to score in both halves, as they are likely to fight hard.

Group D - France, Australia, Denmark, Tunisia

France enters the tournament with a strength that many other teams could only dream of, depth, and they are once again confident of going all the way. The greatest threat to Didier Deschamps will likely come in the form of Denmark, a team that won nine of their 10 qualifiers and has forged a tenacious team spirit. Tunisia and Australia complete the group, but despite having experience in their ranks, it’s unlikely they will have the strength to progress.

Bet on the Group Winner

The safe money in this market will go against the French. However, if nothing else, football can throw up a surprise. Backing the Danes to run out as group winners is certainly worth considering.

France vs Denmark, Both Teams to Score with No Draw Bet

Here we again turn to what we expect to be the decider for the group winner. With that in mind, it’s likely both teams will want to hit the ground running. While choosing the outright winner may prove tricky, backing both teams to score and one to win feels like an appealing option.

Group E - Spain, Costa Rica, Germany, Japan

Dubbed the group of death, there is one match that all eyes will be on during the group stage and that is the face-off between the 2010 and 2014 champions, Spain and Germany. Both teams have re-built after disappointing run-outs in the previous tournament. Luis Enrique has instilled a more direct approach for Spain, and Hansi Flick has his well-drilled German side playing an attractive brand of possession-style football. Despite having a wealth of European experience in their squad, Japan will struggle to make an impression in what has been a difficult draw for their seventh successive World Cup appearance, with Costa Rica filling the final spot in Group E.

Spain vs Germany, Match Result and Two or More Goals in the Match Bet

With no bigger match in the group-stage, we can’t ignore this tantalising match between two giants of world football. With the attacking talents of both teams on display, we’re expecting to see goals. With that in mind, predicting two or more goals in the match feels reasonable. The challenge to succeeding with this bet is to place the stake in line with what you see the result being. It’s a tricky bet, but the rewards could be high.

To Qualify From the Group Bet

If the first consideration is a little too much of a risk, why not play it safe and select the two teams you expect to qualify from the group? With no one looking beyond Spain or Germany for this, the odds will be short, but if you are placing it with a few riskier bets, this could be a wise consideration.

Group F - Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia

Belgium’s golden generation are beginning to age, yet they enter the tournament with high hopes of making Qatar 2022 a tournament to remember. Croatia, who finished second in Russia four years ago, will be a threat as long as their talented forward Luka Modric continues to defy his age. Canada last made an appearance in 1986 and, despite this squad boasting a mix of youth and ambition, it’s hard to see them or Morocco causing a challenge to the two European nations.

Croatia vs Belgium Win/Draw/Win Bet

Here the task is to select the result of the match by choosing either a home win, a draw, or an away win. With the pressure on Belgium’s golden generation to perform and up against a tricky and convincing Croatia, then considering the odds for a home win or draw in this one could bring some strong rewards.

Bet On the Group Winner

In a group where the winner is by far a foregone conclusion, the shorter odds are likely to be on Belgium, but backing Croatia to run out winners of Group E wouldn’t be seen as unthinkable and could be worth considering.

Group G - Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon

Unbelievably, it’s now 20 years since Brazil were the last non-European winners of the tournament as they bid to win a remarkable sixth World Cup. Tite is an impressive coach and will be expecting his South American heavyweights to successfully navigate through Group G. Guided by Murat Yakin, Switzerland is a little reliant on the form of Breel Embolo. For Serbia, they can take comfort in their roster of attacking talent, with names such as Dusan Tadic and Aleksandar Mitrovic. Cameroon remains a long shot, having not made it past the group since 1990.

Straight Group Forecast Wagering

With Brazil the clear favourite to top the group, this bet type, which will require you to predict the first and second spots, poses an interesting opportunity. The challenge lies in selecting the second spot, with the candidates likely coming down to Switzerland or Serbia. This will be one where you will want to study the form of both teams closely before making a final decision.

Group of Winner Bet

Another opportunity to predict which group you think the outright winner will come from. With Brazil entering as one of the leading favourites, this could be an interesting market to place a stake in as the Seleção push for more glory on the world stage.

Group H - Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea

Lastly, we turn our heads to Group H, another tricky group to call. Portugal came through the play-offs and will be bringing one of football’s all-time greats, Cristiano Ronaldo, to the centre stage. Uruguay have been re-born under coach Diego Alonso, who replaced Óscar Tabárez last year after his 15-year reign was brought to an end. Ghana were disappointingly poor at the Cup of Nations and look unlikely to cause a problem, which is the same that can be said for South Korea, who will need to cause a couple of upsets if they are to proceed to the knockout phase.

Bet on the Group Winner

The decision here is likely to come down to Portugal or Uruguay. It’s a tough one to call. If you’re unsure about predicting the outright winner prior to the tournament, you could consider selecting the winner after watching the opening round of matches. This may reduce your potential winnings but could prove a wise tactic given there is no clear favourite to top the group.

Bet on Both Teams to Score in the Portugal vs Uruguay Match

With both teams entering the tournament with an array of attacking talent, with the likes of Ronaldo and Suarez needing no introduction, placing a stake against both teams to score in what could be a table-topping grudge match could offer some alluring odds.

To Conclude…..

As the drama of the tournament moves ever closer, now is the time to consider your bets for the group stage, choosing from the selection of markets highlighted above or from the array of other markets available.

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