World Cup 2018 – Group A Betting Preview

Group A


How qualified – Hosts

Best performance – Quarter-finals most recently in 1970


GOALKEEPERS: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow),Vladimir Gabulov (Club Brugge), Andrey Lunev (Zenit St Petersburg).

DEFENDERS: Vladimir Granat, Fedor Kudryashov (both Rubin Kazan), Ilya Kutepov (Spartak Moscow), Andrey Semenov (Akhmat Grozny), Sergei Ignashevich, Mario Fernandes (both CSKA Moscow), Igor Smolnikov (Zenit St Petersburg).

MIDFIELDERS: Yuri Gazinskiy (Krasnodar), Alexsandr Golovin, Alan Dzagoev (both CSKA Moscow), Aleksandr Erokhin, Yuri Zhirkov, Daler Kuzyaev (all Zenit St Petersburg), Roman Zobnin, Alexsandr Samedov (both Spartak Moscow), Anton Miranchuk (Lokomotiv Moscow), Denis Cheryshev (Villarreal).

FORWARDS: Artem Dzyuba (Arsenal Tula), Aleksei Miranchuk (Lokomotiv Moscow), Fedor Smolov (Krasnodar).


How qualified – 2nd in CONMEBOL group

Best performance – Winners in 1930 & 1950


GOALKEEPERS: Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Martin Silva (Vasco da Gama), Martin Campana (Independiente).

DEFENDERS: Diego Godin, Jose Maria Gimenez (both Atletico Madrid), Sebastian Coates (Sporting Lisbon), Maximiliano Pereira (Porto), Gaston Silva (Independiente), Martin Caceres (Lazio), Guillermo Varela (Penarol).

MIDFIELDERS: Nahitan Nandez (Boca Juniors), Lucas Torreira (Sampdoria), Matias Vecino (Inter Milan), Rodrigo Bentancur (Juventus), Carlos Sanchez (Monterrey), Giorgian De Arrascaeta (Cruzeiro), Diego Laxalt (Genoa), Cristian Rodriguez (Penarol), Jonathan Urretaviscaya (Monterrey).

FORWARDS: Cristhian Stuani (Girona), Maximiliano Gomez (Celta Vigo), Edinson Cavani (Paris St-Germain), Luis Suarez (Barcelona).


How qualified – Won Group E (CAF)

Best performance – Group Stage in 1990


GOALKEEPERS: Essam El Hadary (Al Taawoun), Mohamed El-Shennawy (Al Ahly), Sherif Ekramy (Al Ahly).

DEFENDERS: Ahmed Fathi, Saad Samir, Ayman Ashraf (all Al Ahly), Mahmoud Hamdy (Zamalek), Mohamed Abdel-Shafy (Al Fateh), Ahmed Hegazi (West Brom), Ali Gabr (Zamalek), Ahmed Elmohamady (Aston Villa), Omar Gaber (Los Angeles FC).

MIDFIELDERS: Tarek Hamed, (Zamalek), Shikabala (Zamalek), Abdallah Said (Al Ahli), Sam Morsy (Wigan Athletic), Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal), Mahmoud Kahraba (Al Ittihad), Ramadan Sobhi (Stoke City), Mahmoud Hassan (Kasimpasa), Amr Warda (Atromitos Athens).

FORWARDS: Marwan Mohsen (Al Ahly), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool).

Saudi Arabia

How qualified – 2nd in AFC Group B

Best performance – Round of 16 in 1994


GOALKEEPERS: Mohammed Al Owais (Al Ahli), Yasser Al Mosailem (Al Ahli), Abdullah Al Mayouf (Al Hilal).

DEFENDERS: Mansoor Al Harbi (Al Ahli), Yasser Al Shahrani (Al Hilal) Mohammed Al Breik (Al Hilal), Motaz Hawsawi (Al Ahli), Osama Hawsawi (Al Hilal), Omar Hawsawi (Al Nassr), Ali Al Bulaihi (Al Hilal).

MIDFIELDERS: Abdullah Al Khaibari (Al Shabab), Abdulmalek Al Khaibri (Al Hilal), Abdullah Otayf (Al Hilal), Taiseer Al Jassim (Al Ahli), Houssain Al Mogahwi (Al Ahli), Salman Al Faraj, Mohamed Kanno (both Al Hilal), Hattan Bahebri (Al Shabab), Salem Al Dawsari (Al Hilal), Yahya Al Shehri (Al Nassr), Fahad Al Muwallad (Al Ittihad).

FORWARDS: Mohammad Al Sahlawi (Al Nassr), Muhannad Assiri (Al Ahli).


14 June

  • Russia vs. Saudi Arabia (4pm, ITV)

15 June

  • Egypt vs. Uruguay (1pm, BBC)

19 June

  • Russia vs. Egypt (7pm, BBC)

20 June

  • Uruguay vs. Saudi Arabia (4pm, BBC)

25 June

  • Uruguay vs. Russia (3pm, ITV)
  • Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt (3pm, ITV4)

Group Preview

The first group to get underway in the World Cup is the one which involves the hosts Russia. For the 24 sides who were not in Pot 1 for the draw this was the group they all wanted to be in and it is Uruguay, Egypt and Saudi Arabia who got their lottery numbers up.

It is hard to see anything but Uruguay winning this group. I know you should never count out the host side but Russia are a poor team and if Mo Salah is not fit for the opening game for Egypt you might well be able to count them out. Even if he is he and his teammates are unlikely to get a lot of joy out of the Uruguay back line. Saudi Arabia are hoping to cause a surprise and their slightly gung ho approach could shock one or two along the way.

Group Betting

I have Uruguay winning this group and in truth 10/11 looks a bit of a gift. They are the only side in the group with quality in both boxes and I think that will be a crucial thing. They also have a potentially weakened Egypt and Saudi Arabia in their opening two matches which is a blessing in disguise and the group could be done and dusted before they take on Russia in their final match. In terms of who follows them through I would imagine there will be a lot of twists and turns. If Saudi Arabia have a go they might scare second place but I’ll stick with Uruguay to win the group.

Team Bets

There is only one bet I like for the teams in this group and it involves Saudi Arabia for whom Mohammed Al-Sahlawi has such a good scoring record that the 3/1 he is their top scorer looks a great price. No goalscorer is pretty short in the betting but we’ve seen the Saudis have a go against Italy and Germany in recent friendlies so there is nothing to fear in the three teams the face in the group.

The striker has 28 goals in just 39 caps for his country including 16 in a wonderful qualifying campaign so he is very much the main man for the Saudis. It might be that one goal wins this but if anyone scores more than once for them it is likely to be him.


WON – Back Uruguay to win Group A for a 4/10 stake at 1.91 with William Hill

Back them here:

Back M.Al-Sahlawi Top Saudi Arabia Tournament Goalscorer for a 2/10 stake at 4.00 with BetVictor

Back him here:


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