Portugal could be one of the best value bets of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. With the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and being reigning kings of Europe, somehow they currently sit behind seven other sides in World Cup 2018 futures betting markets to hoist the trophy in Moscow on July 15.
The Navigators will of course be led by captain CR7 and although Ronaldo had a slow start in La Liga, he closed his season at Real Madrid reigniting the debate of who the world’s best player is. His supporting cast cannot be overlooked, though – with names like André Silva, João Moutinho and Bernardo Silva, this side has plenty of talent to make another deep run.
If we learned anything at Euro 2016, it is that this generation of Portuguese footballers is built for tournament play.
It wasn’t pretty by any standard, however. In the group stage, they managed three draws and grinded their way to the final through Croatia, Poland and Wales, then beat France for the first time in a competitive match to capture their first senior international title.
What’s breathtaking about this run is that they played 95 minutes of that final without Ronaldo, who was sidelined with a knee injury early on in the match.
Portugal’s odds to win World Cup: +2200
Oddsmakers have Portugal in the +2200 range, and this is a great price to buy. They currently sit behind Germany, Brazil, Spain, France, Argentina, Belgium and England in odds to win World Cup 2018 and I believe they should probably be somewhere in the middle of that group.
They have a manageable draw in Group B with the exception of their Iberian rivals, Spain. I don’t see an outcome where the Portuguese do not advance from this group, so these games should give boss Fernando Santos a chance to look at some different options and identify their best XI for the knockout rounds.
Finishing as runner-up of this group would likely set up a showdown with Uruguay in the Round of 16 and a rematch with France in the quarterfinals. Those two matches alone would prove a far more turbulent road compared to what they faced at Euro 2016.
That said, this is a squad that will look to control the pace and collect some dirty wins along the way and 25-1 is definitely a price you should entertain.
Portugal’s Odds to win Group B: +200
Betting odds to win Group B from online shop see Iran at +2800, Morocco at +1400, Portugal at +200 and Spain as the favorite at -175. There’s certainly some value on the Portuguese, but they’ll almost certainly need to beat Spain in their Sportsbook match to win this group.
It may not be the first match at Russia 2018, but Portugal vs Spain will officially kick off the World Cup for me. It features two of the best teams on the planet and one of the biggest rivalries in sport. Portugal are currently +295 dogs in this one and I think that’s a great price with Spain facing some uncertainty after firing their bench boss.
Morocco and Iran could be difficult opponents. Portugal will certainly need to play focused football in these fixtures, especially against the Moroccans, but the only way these games become relevant is if Spain and Portugal should draw. Then, it may come down to goal differential to decide the group Sportsbook.
Keep an eye on the totals for these games as they could provide a great opportunity to catch the books sleeping as Spain and Portugal will want to run the scores up.
Portugal’s Best World Cup Bets
Betting the Portuguese to advance to the quarterfinal at +135 at might be the best bet to place on them right now. If they win this group, they would likely play Russia in the Round of 16, which is certainly a match they should win.
More probable would be a second-place finish in Group B pitting them against the Group A Sportsbook, which should be Uruguay, in the first elimination round. This would be a tough fixture, to be sure, but one they could certainly win to advance to the quarters.
Portugal’s Player to watch: Cristiano Ronaldo
Maybe you’re hoping for some mind-blowing revelation on a player that will emerge as “the next big thing.” Well, not yet. I’ve been back and forth on the Messi vs Ronaldo debate for years and I’ve been leaning CR7 over the last couple of seasons.
Furthermore, this Portugal side is quite content to have the spotlight on their star as they quietly find ways to win.
Even if there are breakout performances, they will without a doubt be a result of Ronaldo’s influence. He will score his share of goals, and challenge to be the leading goal scorer, but I look to Cristiano to be the catalyst to any successes Portugal will celebrate. Oddsmakers pegging him to win the Golden Ball award as MVP at +2000.
Portugal’s Road to Russia
Portugal dropped their first game to the Swiss 2-0, a game Ronaldo missed due to injury. The rest of their qualification bid was virtually flawless, allowing just two more goals and putting up 32 in their run of nine straight wins.
Andre Silva and Ronaldo built a healthy partnership along the way, scoring 24 times between them, with Silva potting nine in the campaign.
This preview was originally posted on 2018-05-16 and was updated on 2018-06-14