2018 FIFA World Cup – Group H Preview & Betting Tips

The following is a team-by-team preview of Group H in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Futures betting tips are also provided. The group is arguably the most open of the tournament, featuring Poland, Senegal, Colombia and Japan.

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Other group previews:

 

Poland

Poland

  • FIFA World Ranking (as of June 7): 8
  • Rank by Elo rating (as of June 11): 19
  • Squad:
    • Coach: Adam Nawałka
    • Goalkeepers: Bartosz Bialkowski (Ipswich), Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea City), Wojciech Szczesny (Juventus)
    • Defenders: Jan Bednarek (Southampton), Bartosz Bereszynski (Sampdoria), Thiago Cionek (SPAL), Kamil Glik (AS Monaco), Artur Jedrzejczyk (Legia Warszawa), Michal Pazdan (Legia Warszawa), Lukasz Piszczek (Borussia Dortmund)
    • Midfielders: Jakub Blaszczykowski (VfL Wolfsburg), Jacek Goralski (Ludogorets Razgrad), Kamil Grosicki (Hull City), Grzegorz Krychowiak (West Bromwich Albion), Rafal Kurzawa (Gornik Zabrze), Karol Linetty (Sampdoria), Slawomir Peszko (Lechia Gdansk), Maciej Rybus (Lokomotiv Moscow), Piotr Zielinski (Napoli)
    • Forwards: Dawid Kownacki (Sampdoria), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Arkadiusz Milik (Napoli), Lukasz Teodorczyk (Anderlecht)
  • Best World Cup performance: Third place (1974, 1982)
  • 2014 World Cup: Absent
  • 2010 World Cup: Absent
  • Qualifying: Won Group E with a 8-1-1 record in the UEFA Confederation qualification.
  • Bookmaker odds: (sourced from bet365)
    • Win group: 2.75
    • Reach knockouts: 1.57
    • Fail to reach knockouts: 2.37
    • Win World Cup: 67.00
  • Analyst predictions: :
    • Shaka Hilsop (ESPN): 3rd in the group
    • Craig Burley (ESPN): 2nd in the group, knocked out in the Round of 16
    • Paul Mariner (ESPN): 2nd in the group, knocked out in the Round of 16
    • Tom Carnduff (SportingLife): 2nd in the group, knocked out in the Round of 16
    • SBNATION: 1st in the group
    • AccuScore win group probability: 38.7%
    • AccuScore qualify from group probability: 75.3%
  • Good News:
    • Dominant performance in qualifying, losing just one of their ten games.
    • Have a prolific striker in Robert Lewandowski, who scored 16 goals for them during qualifying. His tally for Poland is 53 goals in 94 fixtures.
    • Coach Adam Nawałka has been at the helm since 2013, during which time Poland have only lost 7 games out 46. Nawałka has managerial experience dating back to 1996.
    • Were solid in Euro 2016, losing on penalties in the quarter-finals to eventual winners Portugal.
    • Are the clear top ranked side in Group H
    • Have good experience in the squad, with seven players boasting 50 or more caps.
  • Bad News:
    • Have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 5 games, with three of their last four opponents scoring at least twice.
    • Haven’t featured in a World Cup since 2006 and have only one player in the squad with World Cup experience.
    • Haven’t reached the knockout stage of a World Cup since 1986.
    • Conceded 14 goals during 10 games of qualifying, which is by far the most of any European side that qualified for the tournament.
    • A number of players have had disappointing or injury-affected seasons for their clubs.
    • Main goal scorer Robert Lewandowski only managed 1 goal in Euro 2016.
    • The winner of this group will likely face England, who are ranked 7th in the world based on Elo ratings, in the Round of 16.

 
Senegal

Senegal

  • FIFA World Ranking (as of June 7): 27
  • Rank by Elo rating (as of June 11): 35
  • Squad:
    • Coach: Aliou Cissé
    • Goalkeepers: Khadim Ndiaye (Horoya AC), Abdoulaye Diallo (Rennes), Alfred Gomis (Torino)
    • Defenders: Kara Mbodji (Anderlecht), Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli), Moussa Wague (Eupen), Saliou Ciss (Angers), Youssouf Sabaly (Bordeaux), Lamine Gassama (Alanyaspor), Armand Traore (Nottingham Forest), Salif Sane (Hannover 96)
    • Midfielders: Pape Alioune Ndiaye (Stoke), Idrissa Gueye (Everton), Cheikhou Kouyate (West Ham), Cheikh N’Doye (Birmingham)
    • Forwards: Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Diao Balde Keita (Monaco), Ismaila Sarr (Rennes), Diafra Sakho (Rennes), Moussa Konate (Amiens), Mame Biram Diouf (Stoke), Mbaye Niang (AC Milan)
  • Best World Cup performance: Quarter-finals (2002)
  • 2014 World Cup: Absent
  • 2010 World Cup: Absent
  • Qualifying: Won Group D with a 4-2-0 record in the CAF Third Round.
  • Bookmaker odds: (sourced from bet365)
    • Win group: 5.50
    • Reach knockouts: 2.25
    • Fail to reach knockouts: 1.61
    • Win World Cup: 201.00
  • Analyst predictions: :
    • Shaka Hilsop (ESPN): 2nd in the group, knocked out in the quarter-finals
    • Craig Burley (ESPN): 3rd in the group
    • Paul Mariner (ESPN): 3rd in the group
    • Tom Carnduff (SportingLife): 3rd in the group
    • SBNATION: 2nd in the group
    • AccuScore win group probability: 5.2%
    • AccuScore qualify from group probability: 19%
  • Good News:
    • Reached the quarter-finals the last time they played in the FIFA World Cup.
    • Have good quality in the squad, particularly going forward, including Liverpool striker Sadio Mane, who scored 20 goals for his club this season.
  • Bad News:
    • Haven’t featured in a World Cup since 2002.
    • Head coach Aliou Cissé has been criticised for not knowing how get the best out of the squad.
    • Won only 1 of their 5 warm up games, which weren’t against particularly strong opponents.

 
Colombia

Colombia

  • FIFA World Ranking (as of June 7): 16
  • Rank by Elo rating (as of June 11): 9
  • Squad:
    • Coach: José Pékerman (Argentina)
    • Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Arsenal), Camilo Vargas (Deportivo Cali), Jose Fernando Cuadrado (Once Caldas)
    • Defenders: Cristian Zapata (Milan), Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham), Santiago Arias (PSV), Oscar Murillo (Pachuca), Frank Fabra (Boca Juniors), Johan Mojica (Girona), Yerry Mina (Barcelona)
    • Midfielders: Wilmar Barrios (Boca Juniors), Carlos Sanchez (Espanyol), Jefferson Lerma (Levante), Jose Izquierdo (Brighton), James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich), Abel Aguilar (Deportivo Cali), Mateus Uribe (America), Juan Fernando Quintero (River Plate), Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Juventus)
    • Forwards: Radamel Falcao (Monaco), Miguel Borja (Palmeiras), Carlos Bacca (Villarreal), Luis Muriel (Sevilla)
  • Best World Cup performance: Quarter-finals (2014)
  • 2014 World Cup: 1st in the group stage, knocked out in the quarter-finals
  • 2010 World Cup: Absent
  • Qualifying: Fourth place in the CONMEBOL qualifiers with a 7-6-5 record.
  • Bookmaker odds: (sourced from bet365)
    • Win group: 2.37
    • Reach knockouts: 1.36
    • Fail to reach knockouts: 3.00
    • Win World Cup: 41.00
  • Analyst predictions: :
    • Shaka Hilsop (ESPN): 1st in the group, knocked out in the Round of 16
    • Craig Burley (ESPN): 1st in the group, knocked out in the Round of 16
    • Paul Mariner (ESPN): 1st in the group, knocked out in the quarter-finals
    • Tom Carnduff (SportingLife): 1st in the group, knocked out in the Round of 16
    • SBNATION: 4th in the group
    • AccuScore win group probability: 48.6%
    • AccuScore qualify from group probability: 80.7%
  • Good News:
    • Have good continuity under head coach José Pékerman, who has been at the helm since 2012.
    • The squad features James Rodríguez, who won the Golden Boot award with 6 goals and 2 assists at the 2014 World Cup.
    • Radamel Falcao is fit after missing the last World Cup due to injury.
    • Made the quarter-finals at the 2014 World Cup.
  • Bad News:
    • Are in a group with no easy beats.
    • Failed to beat any of the top sides during qualifying (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay).
    • After upsetting France 3-2 in March they’ve had slightly underwhelming results in friendlies. They drew both Australia and Egypt 0-0.

 
Japan

Japan

  • FIFA World Ranking (as of June 7): 61
  • Rank by Elo rating (as of June 11): 46
  • Squad:
    • Coach: Akira Nishino
    • Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Metz), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka), Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol)
    • Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo (Galatasaray), Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds), Wataru Endo (Urawa Reds), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Hiroki Sakai (Marseille), Gotoku Sakai (Hamburg), Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers), Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers)
    • Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt), Keisuke Honda (Pachuca), Takashi Inui (Eibar), Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Genki Haraguchi (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Takashi Usami (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe), Ryota Oshima (Kawasaki Frontale)
    • Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Leicester), Yuya Osako (Werder Bremen), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz)
  • Best World Cup performance: Round of 16 (2002, 2010)
  • 2014 World Cup: 4th in the group stage
  • 2010 World Cup: 2nd in the group stage, knocked out in the Round of 16
  • Qualifying: Winner of Group B with a 6-2-2 record in the AFC Third Round.
  • Bookmaker odds: (sourced from bet365)
    • Win group: 8.50
    • Reach knockouts: 3.00
    • Fail to reach knockouts: 1.36
    • Win World Cup: 301.00
  • Analyst predictions: :
    • Shaka Hilsop (ESPN): 4th in the group
    • Craig Burley (ESPN): 4th in the group
    • Paul Mariner (ESPN): 4th in the group
    • Tom Carnduff (SportingLife): 4th in the group
    • SBNATION: 3rd in the group
    • AccuScore win group probability: 7.5%
    • AccuScore qualify from group probability: 25%
  • Good News:
    • The squad has a lot of World Cup experience. They are only team in this group to have played in each of the last two World Cups. The squad features five players who played in both tournaments and seven players have 80 or more caps.
  • Bad News:
    • Coach Akira Nishino only took over in April after Vahid Halilhodžić was controversially sacked. Nishino has had only three friendlies before the tournament to mould the team to his liking. Two of those games ended in 2-0 defeats.
    • The squad is not considered to be as strong as Japanese teams of previous tournaments.

 

Betting tip:

Any of Poland, Senegal and Colombia look capable of progressing through to the Round of 16. Having just changed their manager in April, Japan look the worst placed to escape past the group stage.

Back Japan to fail to qualify for the Round of 16 at 1.36 (bet365)

 

Notes

 

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