favourites to top
Belgium began as the top favourites to win Group H and so they remain, albeit on slightly improved odds now that they have a win under their belts and lead the table. Belgium opened as the -150 favourites to win Group H. They can now be backed at -225 to accomplish the feat. That’s the good news. The bad news they were found wanting after Algeria almost proved the improbable, possible. Twenty minutes away from victory were the Algerians, until a sudden, late surge by Belgium snatched the win from their hopeful grasps. The upshot of which, Belgium’s outright win odds have been set adrift.
Belgium were fancied to do great things at this World Cup, go deep and, perhaps, even surprise in the knockouts. After all, they were tipped as the fifth favourites at +1600 to win the competition proper, despite never having done anything remotely similar to substantiate such a favourable outlook. A rather fortuitous World Cup draw with Russia, South Korea and Algeria, goes some way towards explaining that market cast. As well, a fortuitous position in the bracket was to be had if they did actually come through on their odds to win Group H (winning Group H would see them come up against the runner-up in Group G). What’s more, they were expected to get off to a flying start against Algeria, the sort that would underscore their favourable odds. Alas, they did anything but.
The long short of it: it was an agonising, slow start against Algeria; they fell behind early; and barely eked out the victory in the end. Most worrisome for Belgium’s golden generation of footballers, many were rendered ineffective [*cough*Romelu Lukaku*cough*], so much so that their position as a Top 5 favourite became glaringly untenable overnight. Hence, their odds have been appropriately adjusted from +1600 to +2500 to win outright.
Algeria, the upset that almost was
Algeria pleasantly surprised World Cup bettors in defeat: they showed up to play. That was clear by the way they burst out of the gates to take the early lead, courtesy of a Sofiane-Feghouli-inspired penalty kick (incidentally, he made our recommended picks list in this match, to score anytime at +550 and/or to score first goal at +1600). And they came so close to winning. But it wasn’t to be. Fellaini and Mertens scored late (70th and 80th minute) to snatch the belated victory for Belgium. Algeria were beaten, and somewhat unfairly they remain the group’s no-hopers, now listed at +3300 to win Group H and at +400 to simply advance.
Russia and South Korea draw
The clash between Russia and South Korea wrapped up the first round of group play on a nervy note. Both sides appeared jittery, anxious and unfocused throughout the match. The first half was unmemorable, to say the least. So was most of the second half, until South Korea took the lead in the 68th minute, courtesy of Lee Keun-ho’s effort. Russia, however, quickly equalised in the 74th minute through Kerzhakov. Seven minutes of excitement in a largely unforgettable affair, and that was that.
So where does that leave both sides in the table and in terms of World Cup betting? Well, they are level on points, so joint-second in the table. Russia, however, are the favourites at -150 to simply advance while South Korea are matched at +163 to simply advance. The most indicative market outlook, is where odds to win Group H are concerned: Russia are listed at +275 (slightly larger than their opening +220 odds, but not a whole lot); while South Korea are matched at +900 (a spike from +700).
World Cup Betting Verdict
None of the four was particularly convincing in this section and, as such, it’s still a wide-open affair. Granted Belgium are in the driver’s seat with three points, and they should advance. But don’t discount Russia and South Korea from the proceedings just yet. Both sides could realistically turn the table on Belgium in the second round. For that matter, don’t write off Algeria either. Though pointless, they proved they could play footsy at this level, and they are still very much in play at +400 to simply advance.