World Cup Best Bets: Four eve of tournament plays from Betting.Betfair writers

Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Lukaku is fancies to get amongst the goals for Belgium at Russia 2018
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We're all set for this summer's World Cup, which kicks-off in Russia on Thursday afternoon, so we asked four of betting.betfair's longstanding football writers for their best bet of the tournament...

"In 18 World Cups, they have finished fourth or better on 13 occasions."

Dan Fitch says: Back Germany to make the semi-finals at [2.1]

World Champions even better than four years ago

Dan Fitch says: Back Germany to make the semi-finals at [2.1]

Even when Germany aren't very good they tend to go deep into the latter stages of international tournaments.

This Germany squad is very good. Perhaps even better than the one that won the World Cup four years ago. They have better balance at full-back, their strength in depth in midfield areas is extraordinary, while in attack they now have real pace in Timo Werner.

The last four World Cups have all seen Germany reach the semi-finals. They won they tournament in 2014, were the runners-up in 2002 and finished third in both 2006 and 2010.

Such consistency is nothing new for Germany. It's what they do. In 18 World Cups, they have finished fourth or better on 13 occasions.

With that in mind, the best bet of this World Cup is for Germany to make the semi-finals at [2.1]. After all, it will likely happen whether you back it or not.

Dan Fitch is collating all the big betting stories throughout the World Cup into a daily hit on Betting.Betfair


French striker a huge price to make a goalscoring impact

Paul Robinson says: Back Oliver Giroud each-way to be top goalscorer @ 50/1

The Betfair Exchange and Sportsbook have a wonderful array of markets to choose from for the World Cup but my best bet of the lot is an each-way play on Olivier Giroud to be top scorer at 50/1.

The French striker is not 100% guaranteed a first team place but he did start two of their three recent friendlies, and is proven from the bench regardless.

Giroud matched Antoine Griezmann in qualifying as they were the joint top scorers for France, and with group games against Australia, Peru and Denmark, he could get off to a flying start. It is also likely that the French will go deep in the tournament, so he should have at least five or six matches to add to his tally.

This is far from a nailed-on selection, but it seems overpriced to me, and at the Euros in 2016 he netted three in six appearances.

Paul Robinson will be providing a World Cup ACCA on every day of tournament action


In-form Lukaku flourishing under Martinez

Kevin Hatchard says: Back Romelu Lukaku in the Top Goalscorer - Top 4 market @ [5.1]

Belgium have been given one of the more straightforward-looking groups, and despite a relentlessly pessimistic assessment of coach Roberto Martinez in Belgium and beyond, I expect the Red Devils to at least get beyond the group phase.

Their attack is likely to be led by Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku, who has flourished since Martinez replaced Marc Wilmots. Lukaku netted twice in the final warm-up game against Costa Rica, and scored 11 goals in qualifying. It's also worth noting that the imposing centre-forward has scored 59 Premier League goals in the last three campaigns.

With creative talents like Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard supporting him, Lukaku should get plenty of chances, and winnable games against Panama and Tunisia could get him off to a flyer. Either back him to be in the top four of the scoring charts at [5.1], or back him as Top Goalscorer at [18.0] and look to trade.


Well-backed Uruguay can stick around

Mike Norman says: Back Uruguay To Reach the Quarter Final @ 5/4

Uruguay have been one of the best backed outsiders in the build-up to the World Cup and it's very easy to see why. Óscar Tabárez has a plethora of talent at his disposal - detailed here by Ben McAleer - including one of the best strikeforces likely to be in Russia in Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez, who should both get amongst the goals in a relatively easy-looking group.

La Celeste are in Group A, the host nation's group, which is arguably the weakest of all eight groups because of the fact that lowly ranked Russia - now down to 70th in the world - were automatically placed there. Uruguay are 8/11 to Win Group A, which looks a solid bet in itself given their other opponents are Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but I'm confident they'll get to at least the quarter final, which can be backed at 5/4.

Standing in Uruguay's way in the last 16 will be the runners-up in Spain's group, very likely to be Portugal but could quite possibly be Morocco or Iran. I'd fancy Tabárez's men to beat Portugal, and definitely the other two, and if by a small surprise Uruguay's last 16 opponents are Spain then that will be down to the Spanish team not being at their best because of the chaos caused by Julen Lopetegui's sacking on the eve of the tournament.

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The Racing Post's chief football tipster Mark Langdon provided his best World Cup bets at Betfair's recent Preview Night...


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