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World Cup Group Review

Few people would have expected that Australia and Japan would be preparing for the last 16 of the World Cup while Germany and Belgium would be heading home.

There has been plenty of great football, shocks and, to be perfectly honest, some grim goalless draws, but, overall, the action in Qatar in the opening two weeks of the tournament has kept everyone gripped and entertained.

Hosts go out with a whimper

What: England v Senegal

Where: Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor

When: 19:00, Sunday 4th December 2022

How to watch: ITV1

Odds: England 8/15, Draw 11/4, Senegal 13/2

Group A Standings

PositionTeamPlayedGoals ScoredGoal DifferencePoints
1Netherlands35+47
2Senegal35+16
3Ecuador34+14
4Qatar31-60

Qatar have been one of only two teams at the World Cup - Canada are the other - to have lost all three of their group matches and they were dismal in each of them.

Ecuador outclassed Qatar in the first match of the tournament and showed flashes of inspiration but they were poor in the crucial clash with Senegal who, despite the absence of Sadio Mane, deserevedly beat the South Americans 2-1 to set up a last-16 encounter with England.1 2 3 4

The Africa Cup of Nations winners are 13/2 to beat Gareth Southgate’s team on Sunday after 90 minutes while England, scorers of nine goals in their three group matches, even though Harry Kane is yet to open his account in Qatar, are currently available at 9/1 to win the tournament outright.

Group B Standings

PositionTeamPlayedGoals ScoredGoal DifferencePoints
1 England3 9 +7 7
2 United States3 2 +1 5
3 Iran3 4 -3 3
4 Wales3 1 -5 1

It is difficult to gauge whether the Netherlands are pacing themselves as they barely seem to have got out of first gear during their three group games.

They will be confident of getting past the USA in the last 16 with their undoubted star of the tournament to date - Cody Gapko - 10/3 to score at anytime as he aims to get on the scoresheet for the fourth match in a row.

The USA managed to finish second in Group B despite only scoring two goals and a low-scoring encounter with the Dutch would appear to be on the cards. Under 2 goals in the match at 7/4 looks tempting.

Argentina move through the gears

What: Argentina v Australia

Where: Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan

When: 19:00, Saturday 3rd December 2022

How to watch: BBC1 & iPlayer

Odds: Argentina 1/5, Draw 6/1, Australia 14/1

Group C Standings

PositionTeamPlayedGoals ScoredGoal DifferencePoints
1 Argentina3 5 +3 6
2 Poland3 2 0 4
3 Mexico3 2 -1 4
4 Saudi Arabia3 3 -2 3

After their desperate defeat to Saudi Arabia, Argentina appeared to be in line to suffer an early exit from the tournament but back-to-back victories against Mexico and Poland lifted them to the top of the group and set up a game against Australia and an outstanding chance of reaching the quarter-finals.

Argentina are 11/8 to Win Both Halves which is perfectly possible against a willing but limited Australia side that exceeded expectations by beating Tunisia and Denmark in Group D.

Group D Standings

PositionTeamPlayedGoals ScoredGoal DifferencePoints
1 France3 6 +3 6
2 Australia3 3 -1 6
3 Tunisia3 1 0 4
4 Denmark3 1 -2 1

Quite how a team as dour and unadventurous as Poland have reached the last 16 is something of a mystery and France could hardly have hoped for an easier match at this stage of the tournament.

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Les Bleus produced some scintillating football as they dismantled Australia 4-1 and Denmark 2-1 which allowed them to rest key players in the final group match against Tunisia.

A straightforward France win by a three-goal margin is available at 9/2.

Japan defy the odds

What: Japan v Croatia

Where: Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah

When: 15:00, Monday 5th December 2022

How to watch: BBC1 & iPlayer

Odds: Japan 3/1, Draw 11/5, Croatia 21/20

Group E Standings

PositionTeamPlayedGoals ScoredGoal DifferencePoints
1 Japan3 4 +1 6
2 Spain3 9 +6 4
3 Germany3 6 +1 4
4 Costa Rica3 3 -8 3

Japan managed the strange combination of beating former World Cup winners Spain and Germany yet losing to Costa Rica in the unpredictable Group E.

At one stage in the final set of group fixtures both Spain and Germany were heading out of the tournament but in the end a late flurry of goals by Hansi Flick’s team against Costa Rica ironically saved the 2010 World Cup winners rather than Die Mannschaft.

If Japan can play with the pace and tenacity they showed in the second halves against Germany and Spain they stand a chance of beating the wily Croatians who ground out goalless draws with Morocco and Belgium, as well as coming from behind to defeat Canada, 4-1 to progress.

Japan can be backed at 3/1 to beat Croatia after 90 minutes and reach the quarter-finals.

Group F Standings

PositionTeamPlayedGoals ScoredGoal DifferencePoints
1 Morocco3 4 +3 7
2 Croatia3 4 +3 5
3 Belgium3 1 -1 4
4 Canada3 2 -5 0

Spain finished as runners-up to Japan in Group E to set up a last-16 encounter with Morocco, who were Group F winners after following up their 0-0 draw against Croatia with impressive victories against Belgium and Canada.

The Atlas Lions kept six clean sheets in a row before their 2-1 win against Canada and Spain showed in their loss to Japan that they can struggle to break down well-organised defences.

The match could be a low-scoring affair with a Spain victory after extra time available at 9/1.

Swiss edge out Cameroon into last 16

What: Portugal v Switzerland

Where: Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail

When: 19:00, Tuesday 6th December 2022

How to watch: ITV

Odds: Portugal 10/11, Draw 23/10, Switzerland 7/2

Group G Standings

PositionTeamPlayedGoals ScoredGoal DifferencePoints
 1 Brazil3 3 +2 6
 2 Switzerland3 4 +1 6
 3 Cameroon3 4 0 4
 4 Serbia3 5 -3 1

Despite Cameroon pulling off an historic 1-0 win over Brazil, it's Switzerland who will join A Selecao in the last 16 after their 3-2 win over Serbia.

Vincent Aboubakar's header will go down in Cameroonian football history but it was not enough to see the Indomitable Lions finish in the top two in Group G. 

Meanwhile, Switzerland's journey in Qatar continues as they battled out a thrilling win over Serbia, with Nottingham Forest's Remo Freuler getting the decisive goal. The Swiss can now look forward to facing Portugal in Lusail on Tuesday.

South Korea shock Portugal to knock out Uruguay

What: Brazil v South Korea 

Where: Stadium 974, Doha

When: 19:00, Monday 5th December 2022

How to watch: ITV

Odds: Brazil 1/4, Draw 19/4, South Korea 12/1

Group H Standings

PositionTeamPlayedGoals ScoredGoal DifferencePoints
 1 Portugal3 6+2 6
 2 South Korea3 4+1 4
 3 Uruguay3 20 4
 4 Ghana3 5-3 2

There was more drama on Friday as South Korea beat a much-changed Portgual side to qualify from Group H alongside the Selecao.

Hwang Hee-chan's stoppage-time strike saw them record a 2-1 win in Al Rayyan, after Kim Young-gwon had cancelled out Ricardo Horta's early opener.

They will now play Brazil on Monday, with their progress coming at the expense of Uruguay who beat Ghana 2-0 but were eliminated by virtue of having scored less goals than Uruguay.

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