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World Cup Group Stage Betting

Russia was the only team in the world to gain automatic access into the World Cup tournament as the host country in 2018. The other 31 teams in this 32-team tournament are decided through qualifying competitions in their respective regions. Once the field of 32 teams is set, a drawing is held to break these teams into eight groups of four.

These groups are labeled Group A through Group H. The drawing process places each of the 31 teams into pots, with the top seven qualifying teams going into Pot 1, the next eight going into Pot 2, and so on for Pot 3 and Pot 4. As the host team, Russia is automatically slotted into the top spot of Group A. The other top spots in each group will be drawn out of Pot 1, followed by the second spots coming out of Pot 2, the third spots out of Pot 3 and the remaining spots out of Pot 4.

This system assures that the groups are relatively evenly balanced with one team coming from each of the four tiers in every group. Of course, not all teams in every pot are created equal, so some groups inevitably contain a tougher path into the knockout round than others. The toughest group in every World Cup is nicknamed the “Group of Death.” 

Every group plays out three games in a round-robin style, with all four teams in the group playing each of the others once. In this stage, wins count for three points, draws count for one, and losses count for zero. At the end of these games being played, the top two teams out of every group advance to the knockout round, while the two lowest teams in the group are eliminated.

When considering long shots to win their respective groups or in future odds, be sure to analyze the strength of the group as a whole. Weak groups that are ripe for upsets are those with a top-seeded team that is vulnerable, perhaps due to playing a style that struggles with teams in the group they landed in.

The world’s most elite teams tend to win their groups, but the group stage has also been known to produce surprises. Look for value among teams coming out of Pot 2 or, in weaker groups, even Pot 3.