2019 Asian Cup Preview – Group E

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Four sides that all carry a strong level of intrigue make up Group E as Saudi Arabia are the favourites to finish on top.

DPR Korea (North Korea)

In North Korea at least, this side will be favoured in every match on their way to a glorious 16-0 win in the final over “that team to the South”. In reality however, this side faces an uphill climb to get themselves out of Group E.

Qualification

Having finished as runners up to Uzbekistan in Group H in the second round, North Korea qualified for the Asian Cup as runners up to Lebanon in Group B of the third round.

Group Winner Odds

North Korea to Win Group E – $26

Biggest Game

The last thing this side wants to do is get off to a bad start but it could not have drawn a worse opponent than Saudi Arabia, one of the best sides in Asia. North Korea last faced off with the Saudis in the 2015 group stage, losing 4-1 and a repeat of that scoreline would not shock anyone.

Asian Cup Odds

North Korea to Win the Asian Cup – $151

Overall Preview

Keeping goals out will be the key for North Korea, if they let in five like they did in one match against Lebanon during qualifying, their tournament will be all but over. It will be a race between them and the Lebanese side to finish third in the group, and all jokes aside, it will be a big ask to even get that high for this team.

 

Lebanon

Lebanon’s lone Asian Cup appearance came back in 2000 and after being eliminated in the group stage, this side will be very keen to extend their stay beyond the initial round.

Qualification

Lebanon finished in second place in Group G of the second round, advancing to the third round of qualification where they finished in the same group as North Korea. There they won five and drew one on their way to top spot in Group B.

Group Winner Odds

Lebanon to Win Group E – $34

Biggest Game

Absence makes the heart grow fonder so Lebanon will be fired up for their opening game against Qatar. It is unlikely to be a repeat of the last time these sides met in 2014, with the Qataris winning that 5-0.

Asian Cup Odds

Lebanon to Win the Asian Cup – $101

Overall Preview

Another side that will now expect regular qualification to this tournament thanks to the extra eight teams now involved, Lebanon will be better for the experience here, but it won’t help them earn enough points to progress.

 

Qatar

In just under four years, Qatar will host football’s biggest showpiece and would love to enter the tournament with a strong performance at the most recent Asian Cup on their resume, or at the very least an improvement of their three losses in 2015.

Qualification

Qatar qualified for its tenth Asian Cup by finishing on top of Group C in the second round. Having won seven of their eight games, they recorded a massive 15-0 win over minnows Bhutan in a show of strength, proving that they will take no opponent lightly.

Group Winner Odds

Qatar to Win Group E – $3.50

Biggest Game

Qatar will be favoured in its first two games but will need to pull off a big upset over Saudi Arabia in the final match of Group E as they try to come out on top of the group.

Asian Cup Odds

Qatar to Win the Asian Cup – $41

Overall Preview

Having lost all three games in 2015, Qatar will want to at the very least get out of the group and into the knockout phase and, if we are being fair, have the squad to finish second in this group. While their qualifying record is slightly overinflated given their opponents, they are still a good side and could be in a tight Round of 16 contest.

 

Saudi Arabia

After qualifying for the World Cup in June, Saudi Arabia have eyes on a fourth Asian Cup title and their first one since 1996.

Qualification

Saudi Arabia qualified for the Asian Cup as winners of Group A in the second round of qualifying, winning six and drawing two matches.

Group Winner Odds

Saudi Arabia to Win Group E – $1.33

Biggest Game

While plenty of eyes will be on their clash with Qatar, Saudi Arabia’s biggest group game will come first up against North Korea as they look for momentum early. A big win in that game will make the rest of the competition stand up and take notice of one of the true contenders in the competition.

Asian Cup Odds

Saudi Arabia to Win the Asian Cup – $10

Overall Preview

Saudi Arabia might just be the best value play of the Asian Cup at a double digit price with one of the best sides and title ambitions. If they can cure the inconsistency that plagued them over the last few years don’t be at all surprised if they are walking out for the final.

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