The 2018 World Cup is underway in Russia and, with a dozen or so Chelsea-owned players called up by their countries competing at the tournament, Blues fans can see some of their favourites on the big stage.
With global sporting focus fixed on the World Cup, there’s also plenty of opportunities to turn your specialist knowledge of Stamford Bridge stars past and present to your advantage. Bearing that in mind, here are four World Cup bets involving Chelsea players you could see out in Russia.
Group C straight forecast: France and Denmark
There’s a distinct possibility that Blues teammates will come directly up against one another in Group C during the final game of the pool, as January transfer window signing Olivier Giroud and France play the Danes with Andreas Christensen in their defence.
Marking Les Bleus target man Giroud is something Denmark centre-back Christensen will have done in training throughout 2018, but how will that play out in a World Cup match remains to be seen. By the time the French and Danes play one another on Tuesday, 26 June, both will hope to have secured passage to the knockout phase.
Group C also contains Peru and Australia, who are decidedly lacking strength in depth in comparison to the European nations. It leaves a 7/4 straight forecast flutter with Euro 2016 finalists France just pipping the Danes to top spot in the pool looking great value.
Brazil to win the World Cup outright
Chelsea have had some Brazilian World Cup heroes and villains down the years; from Juliano Belletti to David Luiz. Hard-working winger Willian will hope to be the former as he is part of a stellar Selecao side assembled by Tite to atone for the 7-1 semi-final thrashing by Germany on home soil four years ago.
Playing alongside recognised stars Neymar, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho, Willian’s set-piece nous should serve the Samba Boys well in Russia. That is if the other forwards, including young Gabriel Jesus, let him strike a dead ball!
Brazil are clear betting favourites for the World Cup on Oddschecker and, with no-nonsense defenders like Thiago Silva and Joao Miranda marshalling things at the back, it’s easy to see why. If they get the balance between defence and attack right this time, then Tite’s Selecao should prove worthy market leaders.
Belgium to beat England in Group G
There’s a certain irony that many of Belgium’s Golden Generation have come to play football in England. Blues goalie Thibaut Courtois and star forward Eden Hazard are set to line-up against the country they ply their trade at club level in on Thursday, 28 June.
Courtois will be charged with keeping Gareth Southgate’s young England team that may contain Ruben Loftus-Cheek out at one end, while Hazard could find himself running at Gary Cahill. It’s another training ground battle we might see at the World Cup.
Both the Belgians and Three Lions will have hoped to already be through to the knockout phase by the time they cross paths. Given their vast strength in depth, abandoning patriotism for the firepower of Hazard and others could pay with Belgium trading around 6/4 to beat England.
Spain to finish second in Group B
It’s unheard of for a major footballing nation like Spain to sack their coach on the eve of the tournament, but Julen Lopetegui will not lead La Roja – whose squad contains versatile Chelsea defender Cesar Azpiliceuta – in Russia. His appointment as Real Madrid manager once the World Cup was over came from left-field but rubbed up Spanish FA chiefs the wrong way.
Lopetegui’s loss is to the benefit of last-minute replacement Fernando Hierro, but this is bound to have made some waves in the camp, as players wanted the coach to stay on. Spain play their bitter rivals and neighbours Portugal first in Group B still a matter more of hours than days after changing manager.
While the remaining opposition in the pool, Iran and Morocco, shouldn’t cause La Roja any problems on paper, the stakes of their opening game are sky high. Backing Spain to finish second behind a well-organised Portugal outfit led on the field by Cristiano Ronaldo is well worth considering in light of these dramatic recent events.