This is the second installment in my group winners predictions series here at Sports Betting Canadian. You can check out any of the other installments through the links at the bottom of this page.
I will be using the best odds for each team from any of our three recommended betting sites for Canadians in these articles. The odds can change as we get closer to the matches, so be sure to check and compare odds between sportsbooks yourselves as well.
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Group B Winner Odds
- Spain 1.54
- Portugal 3.00
- Morocco 17.00
- Iran 34.00
This really looks like it will come down to either Spain or Portugal sitting atop the group. The interesting thing with this group is these two elite nations play each other in the first match of the group stage, which could very well determine the group winner. The odds for that match are around 1.95 for Spain, 3.30 for draw and 4.00 for Portugal. This implies that Spain has about a 50% chance of winning the match and even if they don’t win the match there is only around a 25% chance that Portugal wins the match. If the teams draw it will then come down to the goal differential in the other matches, assuming both Spain and Portugal win their other two matches.
I believe that the fact this is each teams first match in the tournament helps Spain. This is because Spain is actually the more talented team, with the ability to run up scores against weaker opponents better than Portugal. There is a misconception about Spain that they are primarily a defensive team, and although it’s true that they are an elite defensive team that can keep a clean sheet on most nights, they also have a ton of fire power up front that they can use when needed. In the event that Spain and Portugal do tie their opening game, which is a definite possibility, I still favour Spain to win the tiebreaker by a sizable margin. The reason for this is because I think both teams will want to avoid a match with the likely group A winner, Uruguay, in the round of 16, so the teams will do their best to finish atop the group, which I think favours Spain. There is also the other factor that Portugal is more likely to draw or lose to either Morocco or Iran, which would hand the top spot to Spain as well.
Play: Spain 1.54
Other Group B Bets
The other bet I’m considering is taking Portugal to not advance from the group stage at odds of 4.32 at SportsInteraction.com. This is an interesting bet to me because of the dynamic that is created from Spain and Portugal playing each other in the first match. If Spain wins, which has a 50% chance of happening according to the oddsmakers, then Portugal will have their backs against the wall for the other two matches and any small slip up could result in them missing a place in the top 2 spots.
Three points for either Morroco or Iran in their game against each other, and a draw against that winning team by Portugal could be enough for Portugal to miss the knockout round. Especially when you consider that Spain may choose to rest players in their final group match against Morroco if they followed up their Portugal win with a decisive win over Iran, which is what would be expected.
If Spain beats Portugal, I can see several scenarios where Portugal fails to advance, so at odds of 4.32 I think there is value in this bet.