England, Netherlands, Argentina and France have now made their debut in football’s top stage, and now it’s time for two more perennial favorites to get their campaign started - Germany and Spain.
While the European giants are the favourites to advance to the next round, expect plenty of surprises in a group that might not be as straight-forward as it seems! If you don’t believe us, just ask Argentina!
Four-time World Cup champions Germany start off their tournament this Wednesday against Japan, a side they have never faced before in this competition. In fact, these sides have only met twice before - both of them in international friendlies -, where Germany remains unbeaten with one win and one draw.
Participating in their 20th FIFA World Cup ever, Germany are one of the most successful teams in the competition in the 21st Century, having reached the semifinals in four out of the five World Cups since.
The 2014 World Cup Champions come into Qatar as the first team to qualify other than the hosts themselves, having won nine of their 10 European qualifier games and scoring 36 goals in the process.
Having crashed out in the group stage in a disastrous 2018 campaign, Hansi Flick's men will definitely be out for revenge this time around and looking for a deep run in the tournament to wash off the bad taste left in their mouths 4 years ago.
Japan, meanwhile, does not have the storied World Cup history that their German counterparts have. Their first tournament was only as recently as 1998, though to their credit they have managed to make it to the big stage on every occasion since.
Qualifying for the World Cup second in their group - 7 points ahead of Australia and only 1 point behind the now legendary Saudi Arabian side - Japan come into the tournament in good form. They lost their last preparation game against Canada, but have looked very solid against Brazil, USA, South Korea and Ghana throughout the year.
One interesting statistic about Japan, however, is that they have alternated between either being eliminated in the group stage or in the Round of 16 in every single of the last 7 tournaments. Since they made it to the Round of 16 in Russia 2018, are they destined to crash out in Qatar or will they be able to break the pattern?
While a win for Germany does not have great value at a price of 1.44, we see this being a more complicated match than it looks like on paper. At a price of 3.00 at Betway, Germany, to win and both sides'scores is definitely worth looking into.
The 2010 World Cup Champions meet the underdog team that made everyone dream of 2014 when Spain meets Costa Rica on Wednesday November 22 in the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha.
While this is the first time these teams have met in the World Cup, they have met on three occasions in the past decade with Spain coming out of the team unbeaten with 2 wins and a draw. The most recent of their encounters was in 2017, when they pushed 5 past the Central American side.
With only one player remaining from the World Cup squad that won the 2010 tournament - Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets - Spain has had a lot of work to do to rebuild their team in the past few years.
However, that hard work has definitely paid off as they bring into the cup a young and promising squad that has big aspirations - bordering on obligations - to make a deep run in the tournament and showcase some beautiful Spanish football along the way..
Luckily for their ambitions, the Reds arrive at the WC in great form - having won four out of their last 5 games and qualifying for the semifinals of the UEFA Nations League off of some solid displays.
While the Spaniards are more known for their possession-based attacking brand of football, remarkably, they only conceded 3 goals during this period, showing that their defense is nothing to scoff at.
The year was 2014. The tiny Central American nation of Costa Rica was drawn into what everyone was calling the “Group of Death” in Brazil, where they were to face off against 3 previous World Cup Champions: Uruguay, Italy and England. They stood no chance in hell. Costa who?
Or at least that’s what everyone thought. So when they went on to beat Uruguay and Italy and then draw against England to not just qualify for the next round but actually top the group, the whole world suddenly knew their name.
The fairy tale was not over yet, however, as they would then go on to beat Greece in the Round of 16 before ultimately bowing out on penalties against the Netherlands.
While this was 8 years ago and less than a handful of the same players from that squad remain, one would be a fool to discount Costa Rica in yet another group that it would seem they have no business getting out alive from.
If you are looking for a sensible bet, the Over 2.5 at 1.64 looks like a good option. However, if you want to dream that miracles can happen again, the win for Costa Rica is priced at 25.00 at Betsson.