Colombia are favourites in the World Cup 2018 Group H odds ahead of top seeds Poland, but few will be writing off the chances of Senegal and Japan in what looks an open section.
The Coffee Growers won over many new admirers at Brazil 2014, when topping their pool with three straight wins, before beating Uruguay in the last 16 and only going down narrowly to the hosts in the quarter-finals.
Poland ended a 12-year absence from football’s biggest stage when heading their qualifying group by five points from Denmark, winning eight of 10 fixtures.
Senegal went unbeaten through their African pool to reach the finals tournament for the second time, with the Lions of Teranga having made it as far as the last eight back in 2002.
Japan will be appearing at a sixth straight World Cup and the Samurai Blue will be hoping to emulate their exploits of 2002 and 2010 by securing a spot in the knockout rounds.
Standings Group H
Bayern Munich team-mates James Rodriguez and Robert Lewandowski are set to do battle when Colombia take on Poland in what could be this pool’s key match at Kazan Arena on June 24.
Rodriguez picked up the 2014 Golden Boot for being the leading scorer in Brazil, as his side created a huge impression with their entertaining brand of football.
Lewandowski, meanwhile, was on fire during Poland’s qualifying campaign for this tournament, netting an incredible 16 goals in 10 appearances.
Both teams have other familiar faces, though, with legendary striker Radamel Falcao set to captain Colombia and Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina also part of the squad.
Experienced Argentinian coach Jose Pekerman has been in charge since 2012, creating a sense of continuity.
He had previously led his native country at Germany 2006 and showed an ability to bring players through by winning three Under-20 World Cup titles for La Albiceleste.
Poland have struggled to recapture the glory days of when they finished third in 1974 and 1982, but that could all change due to a solid crop of current players.
Napoli’s Arkadiusz Milik will be able to assist Lewandowski up front, while Borussia Dortmund full-back Lukasz Piszczek loves to get forward whenever possible.
A strong showing at Euro 2016 included two wins and a draw against Germany during the group phase, while Poland only went out on penalties versus eventual champions Portugal at the quarter-final stage.
However, Senegal shouldn’t be discounted in any World Cup 2018 Group H predictions after showing no respect for teams with big reputations at the 2002 World Cup, starting out with a 1-0 triumph over France and beating Sweden in the knockout rounds.
Aliou Cisse was captain of that team and will now be steering the ship from the sidelines after an unbeaten qualifying campaign saw them concede just three goals in six games.
Liverpool star Sadio Mane is the catalyst for much of their good work going forward, while Idrissa Gueye of Everton and West Ham’s Cheikhou Kouyate work hard in the engine room.
Japan weren’t overly convincing in qualifying, edging out Saudi Arabia and Australia by just a point in their Asian pool, but they do have some proven performers to consider when selecting your World Cup 2018 Group H betting tips.
Former Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa should be fresh after an injury-interrupted campaign with Borussia Dortmund.
Southampton defender Maya Yoshida is always a threat at set-pieces and Leicester forward Shinji Okazaki is full of industry.
|Colombia vs Japan||Mordovia Arena|
|Poland vs Senegal||Spartak Stadium|
|Japan vs Senegal||Ekaterinburg Arena|
|Poland vs Colombia||Kazan Arena|
|Japan vs Poland||Volgograd Stadium|
|Senegal vs Colombia||Samara Arena|