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World Cup 2018 Predictions: Thursday's Match Odds, Updated Group Standings

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJune 28, 2018

Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates winning the group H match between Poland and Colombia at the 2018 soccer World Cup at the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Sunday, June 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press

The final group-stage matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup will be played out on Thursday, and fans will know which 16 teams will battle it out in the knockout stages by the end of the day.

Belgium and England have already qualified from Group G, and both teams are expected to make a number of changes and not field their best players. In the other pool match, Panama and Tunisia will try to avoid a last-placed finish.

Group H should serve up more exciting encounters, as Japan, Senegal and Colombia are separated by just a point.

Here are the predicted group standings:

           

Group G (Team, Played, Goal Difference, Points)

1. England, 3, +7, 9

2. Belgium, 3, +5, 6

3. Tunisia, 3, -3, 3

4. Panama, 3, -9, 0

       

Group H

1. Japan, 3, +1, 5

2. Senegal, 3, +1, 5

3. Colombia, 3, +2, 4

4. Poland, 3, -4, 1

For the full group standings, visit FIFA.com.

       

Here are the latest match odds, via OddsShark.com.

Senegal (12-5) vs. Colombia (59-50), draw (23-10) Prediction: 1-1

Japan (41-10) vs. Poland (71-100), draw (27-10) Prediction: 2-2

England (19-10) vs. Belgium (31-20), draw (43-20) Prediction: 2-1

Panama (23-10) vs. Tunisia (133-100), draw (21-10) Prediction: 0-1

              

Punters shouldn't pay too much attention to the results Belgium and England have put together so far, as Thursday's match is not expected to be representative of their quality.

Both teams have already qualified for the last 16 and are expected to rotate, with many pundits suggesting a second-placed finish in the group will result in an easier path through the latter stages of the tournament.

Disciplinary records could decide the group, and Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate couldn't help but crack a joke to reporters who suggested both sides could try to lose on purpose:

Kristof Terreur 📰 @HLNinEngeland

Gareth Southgate on disciplinary points deciding the group: "If I go and headbutt Roberto (Martínez) in the last five minutes, you'll know we've taken a different approach to get through." #eng #worldcup #bel

Tunisia have the edge in experience and have fared marginally better than Panama in Russia, so it's easy to see why they're backed against the Central Americans.

The real intrigue will play out in Group H, where Poland are already out of the World Cup, despite being regarded as arguably the most talented squad in this group―an honour they shared with Colombia.

Both sides could go out on Thursday, although many expect Los Cafeteros to advance after their fine win over Poland:

Michael Oti Adjei @OtiAdjei

Game over. This Colombia team will give Senegal a lot of problems. #WorldCup #3Sports

Senegal have also impressed with their pace, though, and they have the advantage in the group―they will advance with a draw, meaning they can sit back and play for the counter-attack, where they shine.

Japan have been a positive surprise after their disastrous run leading up to the World Cup, and they control their own fate against Poland.

No one knows whether the Poles will be motivated for this match―like South Korea in their shock win over Germany―or hand Japan the win on a platter, but the odds are still surprisingly in the team's favour.

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