The final fixtures of Matchday 1 will be contested at the World Cup tonight and there is plenty of value to be found in betting.
Colombia and Japan will meet for the second time in as many World Cups, before Poland and Senegal play for vital points in Group H. Host nation Russia will meet Egypt in the first match of the second round of the group stage.
We are set for an intriguing fixture when Colombia and Japan lock horns in Saransk tonight.
Colombia boast a number of truly world class players including reigning Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez, who is key to the success of Los Cafeteros. They are undefeated since October last year, but they have only managed draws with Australia and Egypt at their two most-recent appearances. Jose Pekerman will look to field a full strength side and that will prove a handful for what has been a leaky Japanese defence recently.
The Blue Samurai delivered Paraguay a 4-2 defeat in their final friendly match last week, but they have not been great of late and have lost five of their nine most-recent fixtures. While they boast the likes of Shinji Kagawa, Keisuke Honda and Shinji Okazaki further up the pitch, their success against an attacking team like Colombia rests on the shoulders of Maya Yoshisa and the defensive line.
Colombia defeated Japan 4-1 at this stage of the World Cup four years ago and they are primed for a similar performance and result tonight.
The final fixture on Matchday 1 of the World Cup will see Poland and Senegal square off in Moscow.
This is interestingly the first time these nations have met and everything is in the line for the two Group H contestants. Poland enjoyed an excellent qualifying campaign and their form leading into the World Cup has been terrific; peaking with a 4-0 win over Lithuania last week. They have the luxury of one of the world’s most prolific goal scorers in Robert Lewandowski and they could pile on a big score against a shaky Senegalese defence.
Senegal were also good throughout the African qualifiers, but they do face a reasonably big step up in class into Group H and in the form of Poland, and they will need to bring their best to compete. Sadio Mane is undoubtedly key to their chances and the Liverpool man will be given free rein across the pitch.
Poland can take a step towards the knockout stage by beating Senegal tonight and they represent good value in head-to-head betting.
Host nation Russia will contest the first match of the second round of pool games and will face Matchday 1 losers Egypt.
The Russian would have felt the weight of a nation on the opening day of the tournament, but they produced one of their best performances in recent memory to put Saudi Arabia to the sword. Every player had an impact and midfielder Denis Cheryshev skipped out to an early lead in Golden Boot standings with a brace. They really do look like a team that can go on with the job and ensure passage into the knockout stage.
Egypt produced a typically spirited performance to compete with Group favourites Uruguay for the entire 90 minutes of their opening fixture but ultimately, it was not enough and they are now behind the 8-ball. Mo Salah’s absence was obvious and in if the Liverpool star is unavailable again, it could be a long day at the office for the Pharaohs.