The World Cup is just two weeks away and I’m now done half of the groups in my group betting series for the tournament. You can check out the other installments through the links at the bottom of the page.
I’m going to look at the group winner odds below and also give my favourite other bet from Group D. 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 D Winner Odds
- Argentina 1.61
- Croatia 3.75
- Nigeria 11.00
- Iceland 13.00
This is a very intriguing group and one of the most competitive in my opinion. Argentina are the clear cut favourites, but this is not the best team that Argentina has sent to a World Cup Finals. Yes, Messi has the ability to win games almost single-handedly and this team has the most talent of these four by far, but Argentina is a bit of an enigma when it comes to international competitions. Yes, they made the finals in 2014 before losing 1-0 to Germany. That said they didn’t really impress me. They just inched past both Switzerland (1-0 in extra time) and Belgium (1-0) before being outplayed by the Dutch in the semi-finals and squeaking out a win in penalties.
Argentina really just squeaked into the World Cup this year finishing third in qualification in South America and being forced to get a win over Ecuador, while also needing Brazil to beat Chile and Venezuela to beat Paraguay to ensure their spot in the tournament. Lucky for Argentina, all three of these outcomes happened thanks to a hat trick from Messi when it mattered most, but we were very close to not having Argentina in this tournament at all. At these odds I have a hard time picking Argentina to win their group when I could easily see them drawing against any of these other three teams.
In terms of value I’m looking all the way down at Iceland at odds of 13.00. Iceland was in a group with Croatia in UEFA qualifying and finished atop that group to qualify for the World Cup, so they do have the ability to beat Croatia to the top of the group for sure (they split their 2 game series with Croatia). I think the fact that Iceland is a small country with a population of only 300,000 causes people to overlook them, but they’ve proven that this generation of Icelandic footballers can compete with the elite in the world. Iceland made the quarter-finals at UEFA 2016 just two years ago, beating England 2-1 in the round of 16 after advancing from their group that included Hungary, Portugal and Austria, without dropping a match.
I think the sample size is large enough now that we have to take this Iceland team very seriously. This is a very difficult group and no match will be easy, but I think Iceland is definitely in the mix to win this group, and at odds of 13.00 they are a great punt play.
Play: Iceland 13.00
Other Group D Bets
The other play I like from this group was Messi under 4.5 goals, which Bodog.eu has as a prop bet. Messi has the ability to score in bunches, but 5 goals is a lot to get in the World Cup and I think it’s much more likely he hits the under on this prop. Croatia and Iceland are very sound defensive teams and Nigeria will not be a team that Argentina can run up the score against either.
Argentina scored only 19 goals in 18 games as a team in World Cup qualification, which was second fewest of the 10 teams in the tournament. This is a team that does win games by blowing out the opposition.
Even if Argentina scores 6 goals in the group stage, which they did in a much weaker group in the 2014 World Cup, those goals could still be spread around a variety of Argentina snipers such as Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain or Paulo Dybala. There is not guarantee that Messi is going to be the one to score Argentina’s goals.
For Messi to hit the over on this bet Argentina will likely have to have a deep run in the tournament and I don’t expect this to happen either. In the round of 16 they will likely play either France, Peru or Denmark. They would be the underdog against France and could easily lose to either Denmark or Peru. After the round of 16 they won’t be much better than a coin flip to advance at each stage and I don’t expect them to light up the opposition if they do.
In 2014 Argentina played the maximum possible games, losing in the finals, and Messi still only scored 4 goals. And like I said, he scored all four of those goals in a much weaker group that included Nigeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Iran. Nigeria was the second best team in that group and in my opinion they are the worst in group D this year.
Messi could go off for a hat trick in any game, but overall I think it’s a tall task to score 5+ goals in the World Cup.