The 2018 World Cup, to be held at twelve different venues across Russia throughout June and July, will be the twenty-first time the tournament has been played. Featuring 32 teams divided into eight groups, each team plays three games in the qualifying round, with the top two teams in each group progressing to the knock-out stage.
The World Cup is an enormously popular event with punters because of the frequency of the matches, the quality on display, and the fact that bookmakers offer such a diverse range of markets both on the tournament as a whole and on every individual match.
Our 2018 World Cup Guide features all the key dates you need, as well as the groups and how to access the matches live. We also share our expert advice on betting on the World Cup, including how to understand the different markets on offer and how to find the best value bets. We also give you our tips on the best mobile football betting apps for punting on the World Cup.
Be sure to check out our England World Cup Betting Guide which gives you the complete guide to betting on England’s World Cup chances including betting tips, fixtures and the best football betting apps.
Russia Saudi Arabia Egypt Uruguay
Portugal Spain Morocco Iran
France Australia Peru Denmark
Argentina Iceland Croatia Nigeria
Brazil Switzerland Costa Rica Serbia
Germany Mexico Sweden South Korea
Belgium Panama Tunisia England
Poland Senegal Colombia Japan
There are 48 matches in the group stages, with the first game being played between the hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia on 14 June, and the final group stage match between Senegal and Columbia two weeks later on 28 June.
The Round of 16 matches are played between 30 June and 3 July, the quarter-finals on 6 and 7 July and the semi-finals on 10 and 11 July. The 2018 World Cup Final will be played in Moscow on 15 July, with the third place play-off game being held the day before.
For UK TV viewers, games will be broadcast on both BBC and ITV. England’s games against Tunisia and Panama will be on BBC, while the Belgium game will be shown on ITV. The TV broadcaster of the Round of 16 matches, quarter- and semi-finals has yet to be finalised. The World Cup Final will be broadcast on both BBC and ITV.
To watch online on your laptop or desktop, a number of major broadcasters across the globe like FOX TV, beIN Sports, Sky and DirecTV will be streaming matches live, although you will need to have a subscription to access the games. Depending on where you are in the world, a VPN may be a very helpful tool for UK expats to access the BBC and ITV coverage.
If you want to watch the World Cup on your mobile, the William Hill sports betting app will have live streaming of matches, as well as a huge range of markets including live and in-play betting. Ladbrokes betting app also offers live match streaming on its betting app (as well as a host of other features), as does PaddyPower.
The best world cup betting apps will also feature highlights packages, as well as extensive resources on every game, such as stats and heat maps, player ratings, betting tips, previews, and much more.
According to the leading mobile sportsbooks, Brazil are currently the favourites to win their sixth Jules Rimet Trophy at a best price of 5-1, along with defending champions Germany. You can get 7-1 on 2010 champions Spain winning the tournament for a second time, or 15-2 on 1998 winners France lifting the trophy.
Other contenders who the bookmakers consider to be in the running include two-time winners Argentina at 10-1, perennial under-achievers Belgium at 11-1, while England is currently at a best price of 20-1 with the leading mobile sports books.
At the other end of the spectrum, Saudi Arabia are the rank outsiders at a Leicester-like 5000-1, while you can get 2500-1 on Tunisia, taking the title, or 1000-1 on Panama winning at their first attempt.
Downloading and installing a sports betting app on your mobile phone or tablet is quick and easy to do. Apps are available for iOS iPhone and iPad, as well as Android devices, and can be downloaded for free from the App Store and Google Play respectively.
Once you’ve downloaded an app, setting up an account with your favourite mobile sports book is easy to do. You will be required to provide information in order to prove your identity and that you are over 18, but in the first instance this doesn’t take long and you are generally able to begin betting straight away.
Betting on a sports betting app in the World Cup is very convenient and certainly an easier way of having a punt than having to go to a high street bookmaker, especially given the timezone in Russia and when matches are screened in the UK. Even if you’re at work during the day when a large number of matches are being played, you can still get your bet on when you have a mobile betting app.
World cup betting apps are also a great way to ensure that you stay up-to-date with every game, by utilising the live update and alert features. You also have access to the full range of betting markets at all times, as well as all the other resources that the best football betting apps give you, such as live match streaming and replays, statistics and form guides.
A mobile betting app also makes betting live and in-play easy and enjoyable to do, as you are always in touch with how a game is developing and so can take instant advantage of shifts in the market as a match changes.
The World Cup is a huge tournament and so you get a huge range of betting options too. You can make straightforward outright bets on who will win each group, who will be the finalists and who will be the ultimate tournament winner.
An especially popular market is betting on the World Cup top goalscorer, as you can also bet each way, getting paid out at ¼ odds if the player you pick to score the most goals comes second or third in the goalscoring table.
However, for many punters, their favourite way of betting on the World Cup is accumulator bets. With accas, you are punting on the results of several matches in a single bet (at most sports books an acca bet needs to have a minimum of three legs or folds). Because you are combining several bets into a single wager, the odds and payouts on winning acca bets can be truly enormous, and the more legs in an acca, the greater the potential win. You do need to remember that with an acca bet, if one leg loses, the whole bet is lost — however, most sports books are offering World Cup Acca Insurance special offers, where if only one leg on your acca lets you down, you get your state back as a bonus bet.
1930 – Uruguay
1934 – Italy
1938 – Italy
1950 – Uruguay
1954 – West Germany
1958 – Brazil
1962 – Brazil
1966 – England
1970 – Brazil
1974 – West Germany
1978 – Argentina
1982 – Italy
1986 – Argentina
1990 – West Germany
1994 – Brazil
1998 – France
2002 – Brazil
2006 – Italy
2010 – Spain
2014 – Germany
Every World Cup throws up surprises, especially when it comes to qualification for the finals. However, the 2018 World Cup has had more shocks than most in terms of the big names who didn’t make it to Russia.
Italy’s failure to qualify has of course been the biggest surprise of the qualification period. This was the first time since 1958 that the Azzurri have not made it to the finals after a disappointing and lacklustre qualifying campaign, and the aftermath has been bloody. Manager Giampiero Ventura resigned and there have been many recriminations in the press and amongst fans as to why the four-time champion performed so poorly. Former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is the man who has now been tasked with restoring Italian football pride.
Another team with an impeccable pedigree who won’t be in Russia is the Netherlands. Runners-up three times (in 1974, 1978 and 2010), manager Danny Blind took the fall for the failure of the Dutch team to reach the finals, and has since been replaced by Ronald Koeman, who was formerly in charge of Everton and Southampton (without, it has to be said, a great deal of success).
Outside of Europe, the failure of the United States (USMNT) was something of a shock, given the progress that football has been making there since the inception of MLS. One of the other biggest surprises was Ghana’s failure to make it to Russia. The Black Stars reached the quarter finals in 2010 and were the first African country to qualify for the 2014 tournament, and although they under performed in Brazil, hopes were high this time around. However, they were knocked out in the qualifying stages as the result of some inconsistent performances and surprising defeats and, like all countries who didn’t make it to the finals, this has been followed by an intense and prolonged period of soul searching amongst footballing authorities.
The sports betting apps featured here are all packed with resources to help you when you’re betting on the Word Cup. These include match previews and predictions by the experts, betting tips, form guides, statistics and heat maps. Most apps will also have match replays and a select number feature live match streaming as well.
The best sports betting apps feature a huge range of markets that go beyond outright win bets. In every game, you get an enormous choice of bets, from the straightforward to the more exotic. Bet on the final score, the number of corners or red cards, the time at which the winning goal will be scored and much more. Take the time to look at all the options that you get with every game as this can be a great way to find value bets.
At almost all of the sports books that we feature here, the bookie has a feature that enables you to get customised odds on any bet that you want to make if they haven’t framed a market on it. Simply get in touch with the bookie with your proposed bet (usually via Twitter and with a specific hashtag), and they will give you the odds — no matter what sort of bet you want to make, you can nearly always get a price.
Betting live is a great way to get good value and to stay engaged in any match. The odds change as the match fluctuates, and you can often get some inflated odds when the favourite in a match goes behind, or when you see a player is in form and you think they have a chance of bagging some goals. You can also bet on what you think will happen during a 5- or 10-minute period in the game, when the next goal will be scored, or which team will get the next corner. The range of in-play bets in the best sports betting apps will be huge and give you plenty of options.
Accumulator bets are a great way to bet on the World Cup. You can bet across matches and, as the price you get is a combination of the odds on each individual leg, the payouts can be enormous — plus the more legs in your acca, the bigger the potential win. Most mobile sports books also have an Acca Insurance feature, where if only one leg of your accumulator lets you down, you get your stake back in the form of a bonus bet.
When it comes to choosing a World Cup betting app, you can rely on our reviews to help you decide which one is right for you. There are plenty of sites out there where the quality of the information you get isn’t up to scratch, but you can always trust our expert reviews. All of our writers are experienced punters who know how to find user-friendly betting apps that also give you good value and plenty of extra features.
We pride ourselves on offering impartial yet informed advice, with the aim of making sure that our readers can find the best world cup betting apps for the 2018 World Cup.