Group H is one of a kind at this year’s football World Cup. It is probably the only bracket in the competition without a true favorite. And all of four sides Colombia, Poland, Japan and Senegal have realistic chances to make it to the knockout stages.
Poland are probably the biggest name in the group sitting at the sky-high seventh in FIFA World rankings, but to be fair here are plenty of stringer nations below them in that ladder. The Eagles have had a strong qualifying campaign which has seen them win 8 of 10 games to finish five points clear off the runners-up Denmark. Such an impressive campaign followed a decent appearance at EURO 2016 in France where they’ve only gotten eliminated by latter champions Portugal after penalties in the quarterfinal.
The main problem for Adam Nawalka is the huge dependence on Robert Lewandowski who is by far the biggest star of this squad. Bayern Munich’s striker broke the record by netting 16 goals in 10 qualification matches en route to Russia 2018 and he has been enjoying a spending form with the Bavarian giant this season in Bundesliga as well.
Senegal are probably the biggest enigma of the competition. It’s really hard to predict their success at the World Cup given they have the names, the athleticism and the spirits, but the fact they were not quite present at the biggest stage since the World Cup 2002 in South Korea/Japan makes us think about their limits here in Russia.
Speaking of the names, two emerge as the most prominent – Kalidou Koulibaly has been the first team regular at the center half position in Italian Napoli this season, while Sadio Mane has been one of the key performers in Liverpool’s attacking successes over the last couple of years. There are plenty of other super interesting names such as Diafra Sakho who looks to have found the wanted rhythm since joining Ligue 1 side Rennes from West Ham United recently.
Japan are also one of the potential mysteries of the tournament. The Asian heavyweights have never gone beyond the last 16 round at World Cups, including the exit at this particular stage back when they hosted the competition together with Korea Republic in 2002. They’ve always had the potential in their ranks, but have often been managed by coaches with questionable knowledge.
This time, Samurai Blue will have a world-class manager in the likes of Vahid Halilhodzic who has done miracles with Algeria in the previous edition of the competition. The Bosnian manager led the team towards the top spot in the Group B of Asian World Cup ahead of the likes of Saudi Arabia and Australia (only seven goals conceded in ten matches).
Colombia were one of the most pleasant surprises four years ago in Brazil when they reached the quarterfinal to lose narrowly to the host nation that deep in the competition. Los Cafeteros have previously cruised their way past the group stag, led by the phenomenal James Rodriguez who exploded onto the biggest stage just at the tournament in Brazil.
James has been struggling with his form ever since that event, but the loan to Bayern Munich has helped him boost up the confidence after a tough period in Real Madrid. The Colombians once again have a strong squad featuring the likes of Radamel Falcao (Monaco’s top scorer in this term of Ligue 1) and Juan Cuadrado (an important figure in Juventus’ route to the Scudetto title).
FIFA World Cup Group H Predictions and Bet Tips
Poland are worth backing to pass the group stage at the odds of 1.57 and it will be our top bet here.
Alternatively, we will shoot for Senegal not to make it to the knockout round at 1.53.