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Back Polish Dark Horses in World Cup Group H Betting

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April 30, 2018

With the World Cup just a few short months away, it’s time to turn attention to some of the exotic and long-term betting markets to build a portfolio of bets to take us into the tournament. Group betting is one of the most popular markets for punters to get stuck into before a ball is kicked, and between myself and my colleagues at SBO, we’ve assessed all eight groups to pick out some value ahead of time.

Naturally, the bookmaker’s price up each group based on the relative abilities of each side, but as fans of the World Cup will know, there are always upsets and usually at least one side which exceeds expectations in the early stages. In Euro 2016, Gareth Bale and Wales shocked Europe by reaching the semi-finals before going out to eventual winners, Portugal. And who could forget the momentous triumph of Costa Rica in 2014 Brazil World Cup, where the international minnow made a mockery of the form book to finish top of Group D ahead of Uruguay, Italy, and England.

Russia 2018 will be no different, and although not an underdog in the true sense of the word, Poland appears to have been slightly underestimated by the oddsmakers. Rated a 50/1 outsider to win the tournament, Poland could be a shrewd bet to lift the trophy – with the aim of laying the bet off once the odds drop if they reach the latter stages. However, this article is all about group betting and the Poles are a solid punt to win Group H ahead of Colombia.

The full group H roster includes Poland, Colombia, Senegal, and Japan. Neither of the latter two sides are there to ‘make up the numbers’ and both will provide a stiff test to the two fancied teams in the section. However, if Colombia and Poland have pretensions of going deep into the competition, they will have to view those opponents as eminently beatable.

Poland Continue to Improve

The reason I suspect that Poland could be the tournament’s dark horse is due to their improved performances over the last few years when compared to the previous decade. They failed to qualify for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups but fairly breezed through qualification this time around with 8 wins from ten matches, finishing five points clear of next-best Denmark. Talismanic striker Robert Lewandowski notched 16 goals in qualifying, setting a new record for European qualifiers and becoming his country’s all-time top scorer in the process. Lewandowski has scored an impressive 24 goals in 28 appearances for Bayern Munich so far this season and is widely considered one of Europe’s deadliest forwards.    

Poland qualified for their first European Championship ever in 2008 and qualified automatically as joint-hosts with Ukraine in 2012. On both occasions, the Polish national side failed to win a game and finished bottom of their group. The difference was stark at Euro 2016 where a much-improved performance saw them win group games against Northern Ireland and Ukraine, and hold Germany to a 0-0 draw. Progressing to the knockout stages, they beat Switzerland on penalties before losing at spot kicks in the quarter-finals to Portugal. They were one of the only sides to exit the tournament without officially losing a game.

Lewandowski may be the star of the team, but he is ably supported by a number of international players plying their trade in Europe’s top leagues, including young strike partner Arkadiusz Milik. Touted as one of Europe’s up-and-coming stars prior to Euro 2016, Milik has been cruelly hit by two cruciate ligament injuries in the last two seasons after signing for Napoli in August 2016. However, in January 2018 he was cleared to resume training with the Italian side, and if he can return to form over the next few months he can provide the perfect foil for Lewandowski.

A mention also goes to industrious wideman Jakub Błaszczykowski, who is Poland’s third most-capped player. After playing more than 250 games for Borussia Dortmund, he now represents Vfl Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga. Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny is on the books at Juventus, while experienced defenders Kamil Glik and Łukasz Piszczek play for Monaco and Dortmund respectively. Several squad members ply their trade in the Premier League, Serie A, Ligue 1, and the Bundesliga, and this is not a side short on quality.

Poland begin their campaign against Senegal before meeting Colombia in the second group match in Kazan. That fixture may well decide the eventual outcome of Group H, but Colombia – which has only won five of the last fifteen games at the time of writing – should not be favourites to top the section ahead of a very capable Poland side. The Northern/Southern hemisphere divide may be overstated sometimes, but I suspect Colombia will find it more difficult to make an impact in Russia than they did in Brazil in 2014.

About the author

Alan Penny
Alan Penny


Alan hails from Northern Ireland and is an avid fan of all sports. He has been with us since 2017 and serves as SBO’s Editor-in-Chief. Alan passionately covers everything from the latest regulatory developments across the globe to tips on the latest football matches.