Odds to win
By: Jason Green
Group A is one of the weaker groups in Russia and the host is in the group along with two-time World Cup winner Uruguay. Here are the odds to win Group A.
Saudi Arabia +4000
Uruguay has the best group odds and they finished 2nd in World Cup qualification for South America. With LUis Suarez or Edinson Cavani the squad has one of the better attacks in the Tournament. They have been pretty good in recent friendlies winning their last three leading up to this summer, but they have not faced any world powers. The Uruguay defense has three clean sheets in a row in their last three friendlies and in Group D they are the only team that has a great attack. The defense has to be wary of the counter-attack with Uruguay pressing forward on offense.
Russia automatically qualified as the host nation and while they have not been impressive in recent friendlies they have faced France, Brazil, and Spain. Veterans Yuri Zhirkov and captain Igor Akinfeev lead the squad and they have a lot of youth on the team. Zenit St. Petersburg’s Aleksandr Kokorin was sold in the club seasons and up front he has to play well for a squad, whose strength is on defense and in the midfield. They play the opening match in the Tournament facing Saudi Arabia, where they are major betting favorites. South Africa in 2010 is the only host nation that has never advanced to the knockout stage.
Egypt advanced to the finals of the African Cup of Nations and one of the main reasons was because of star Mo Salah. He was injured in the Champions League final playing for Liverpool, but he is expected to be on the pitch this summer and his talents are vital for Egypt advancing out of Group A. They have a few players that play in Europe with the likes of Kouka, Ramadan Sobhi, and Mohamed Elneny, but the team does not feature many world-class players. Egypt plays a fast-paced Game and Salah is a great attacker, but they have not looked good heading into the World Cup. They have been shut out in their last two friendlies and even lost to Kuwait. The Pharos have a tall task facing group favorite Uruguay in their opening match.
Oddsmakers are not giving Saudi Arabia much of a chance this summer having the lowest odds not only to win Group A, but the lowest odds to win the whole World Cup. Mohammad Al-Sahlawi is their leader up front and he scored 16 goals in African World Cup qualifying. They have been up and down in friendlies leading up the Tournament and this is their first World Cup in 12 years. The Saudis play well as a team, but they lack world-class talent. The counter-attack will be their best chance to Scoregoals and they open the Tournament facing host Russia.