World Cup Daily Briefing: Russian 'donkeys' look more like dark horses

Denis Cheryshev
Turns out Russia aren't so bad after all.
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Dan Fitch takes a look at Russia's plunging prices and provides all the best betting tips for today's games...

"Never has so little been expected from a host since the day's when Noel’s House Party was on TV and yet Russia have won both of their group games in fine style."

Russia are [50.0] to win the World Cup.

Today's games - Wednesday 20 June 2018

Group B
Portugal [1.73] v Morocco [6.6]; The Draw [3.65]
Kick off 13:00, Live on BBC One

Having fought back to draw level with Spain in their thrilling game last week, Portugal can now put the pressure on their Group B rivals by going top with a win over Morocco.

"Look no further than their Euro 2016 success where their whole campaign was built around getting over the line rather than delighting or entertaining."

Read Jamie Pacheco's Portugal v Morocco match preview and betting tips here.

Group A
Uruguay [1.22] v Saudi Arabia [20.0]; The Draw [7.2]
Kick off 16:00, Live on BBC One

With Russia having built up a healthy goal difference, Uruguay need to beat Saudi Arabia heavily to make up ground.

"This looks a complete mismatch and Uruguay will know the potential significance of a high-scoring victory after Russia's 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia."

Read Simon Mail's Uruguay v Saudi Arabia match preview and betting tips here.

Group B
Iran [19.0] v Spain [1.27]; The Draw [6.2]
Kick off 19:00, Live on ITV

This looks like the perfect chance for Spain to claim their first victory under Fernando Hierro against an Iran team that have already surpassed their expectations.

"Costa looks up for it and is enjoying his second coming for the national side after being frozen out in the previous regime."

Read Jamie Pacheco's Iran v Spain match preview and betting tips here.

What happened yesterday?

Never has so little been expected from a host since the day's when Noel's House Party was on TV and yet Russia have won both of their group games in fine style.

If their 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia seemed more down to the flaws of the opposition than their own strengths, Russia proved it was no fluke by beating Egypt 3-0 to go top of Group A last night. Far from being the timid, wretched team we were warned about pre-tournament, Russia are playing an exuberant, exciting brand of football and are now the [1.67] favourites to win their group.

Group H always looked like it had the potential to be unpredictable and yesterday both of the outsiders won their matches. Colombia's Carlos Sanchez gave away a penalty and got himself sent off within minutes of their match with Japan, who took advantage to run out as 2-1 winners.

Senegal also won 2-1 against a very flat looking Poland side. Senegal now trade as the [1.4] favourites to qualify, with Japan at [1.56], Colombia at [2.76] and Poland at [3.35].

Who will win the World Cup?

Matched as high as [110.0] Russia are now in to [50.0] after their two victories. England have come down to [13.0] from [14.0] and are now level with Argentina as the joint sixth favourites, with Brazil still leading the betting at [5.7].

Amusing World Cup name of the day

One of the joys of the World Cup is when foreign players' surnames sound a bit like a rude word or phrase in English. Step forward Poland's Lukasz Piszczek and Russia's Yuri Zhirkov, who both amused childish minds across Britain yesterday, on each and every occasion the commentators said their names.

Who will be the top goalscorer?

Russia's Denis Cheryshev found the net against Egypt to draw level with Cristiano Ronaldo with three goals. Yet while Ronaldo is the favourite to be the World Cup's top scorer at [3.25], Cheryshev is a distant [44.0], having been backed as high as [500.0].

Elsewhere, the excitement around Harry Kane's brace against Tunisia has abated a little, with the England striker now out to third favourite at [8.4], as punters realised that upon reflection, Spain are likelier to go further in the tournament and Diego Costa sensibly returned to his position of second favourite at [8.0].

England watch

Dele Alli is a major doubt for the match against Panama after picking up a thigh strain against Tunisia. The midfielder could be replaced by Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who replaced him as a substitute on Monday night. England are [1.21] to win the game.

What other sport is on today?

It's the second day of Royal Ascot and we've got insightful advice from the likes of trainer Hugo Palmer and jockey Ryan Moore to help you make your selections.

Read our Royal Ascot betting previews and tips from our hugely knowledgable horse racing experts.

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