There is much debate as to which nation is the favourite to lift the World Cup after after the Final on July 15th in Moscow. Germany, Brazil, France, Spain and a number of other nations have all shown the credentials to be regarded as worthy winners, but there is no candidate currently looking like breaking away from the pack.
Bookmakers, too, look a little stumped on who the most likely winner will be, finding it difficult to separate the odds between favourites Germany and Brazil in the World Cup betting 2018. Indeed, many pundits don’t think those two most-decorated footballing nations should be favourites at all, feeling that France or, perhaps, Spain should be regarded as frontrunners.
France may have their best chance for twenty years
France, currently available at odds of 11/2 (Paddy Power), are arguably the most intriguing contenders for Russia 2018. Didier Deschamps has such a ridiculously deep pool of players to choose from that a coach could almost build two World Cup-winning squads. As an example, most coaches take around seven or eight attack-minded players to the Finals, meaning that the likes of Anthony Martial, Dimitri Payet, Kevin Gameiro or even Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman could be left at home.
While having the talent at their disposal, France’s fluency and cohesiveness could be their ultimate downfall. Brazil (5/1) have no such issues, with current coach Tite instilling new sense of verve and confidence in a team that seemed on its knees after the 2014 World Cup Semi-Final humiliation to Germany. Neymar is, of course, still the star man, but this Brazil side is now less about individuals and more about achieving victory.
German winning-machine rolls on to Russia
It almost goes without saying that 2014 winners Germany (9/2) will be widely backed to go deep in the tournament. Like Brazil, they have established a winning mentality, best summed up by their 100% record in UEFA qualifying. Experienced players are complemented by rising stars like Leroy Sané, Timo Werner and Julian Weigl, so there is a nice balance about this German team. However, defensive frailties might give bettors pause before backing them to win the World Cup.
It seems that Spain (6/1) have gone slightly under the radar since the disappointment of the last World Cup. However, the way they navigated a qualifying group, which included Italy, demonstrated that they could be back to their best. Like France, the depth of their squad almost seems unfair to other nations. But, the onus is upon coach Julen Lopetegui to find a settled XI.
Lack of expectation may suit England
What of the outside bets for World Cup glory? The lack of expectation in the UK media may actually suit England (16/1), who boast a potent forward line with Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling. Nigeria’s Group D rivals, Argentina (8/1) and, to a slightly-lesser extent, Croatia (40/1), are both fancied to do well. The former, of course, will have Lionel Messi in their ranks. Many neutrals will want the ‘little-man’ to finally lift the trophy his talent so richly deserves.
The odds are in triple-figures across the board for African sides, with Senegal (125/1) and Nigeria (150/1) leading the way. Egypt (275/1), Morocco (325/1) and Tunisia (500/1) are ranked among the outsiders for the tournament. The time may not yet be ripe for an African team to win the World Cup, but certainly the Super Eagles and Lions of Teranga will hope to upset the odds and progress to the knockout stages at least.