For the third successive edition of the FIFA World Cup, the reigning champion has been eliminated at the group stage. First came Italy in 2010; then Spain in Brazil four years later; this time around, defeats to Mexico and South Korea ensured that Germany fell at the first hurdle.
All of which means, with the quarter-final ties now defined, half of the eight teams remaining have the chance to lift their first ever World Cup crown. Croatia, Belgium, host nation Russia and Sweden have progressed at the expense of some of the biggest names on the planet as the 2018 edition of the competition continues to throw up surprises.
First things first
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Will we see a new champion?
The chances are relatively high of the world seeing a new champion crowned in 2018. Of those four challengers it is Croatia, who boast the likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Ratikic and Mario Mandzukic amongst their ranks, who perhaps stand the best chance of adding the World Cup to their trophy cabinet – they are priced at just 7.00 to win the title, according to Oddsshark.
On paper at least, arguably the strongest side to never get their hands on the trophy is Belgium. Coached by Roberto Martinez and with a wealth of attacking talents which includes RomeluLukaku, Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne, the Red Devils cruised through their group with a 100 per cent record, before almost coming unstuck against Japan in the round of 16.
Belgium showed their grit and determination as well as their flair in the final third to come from two goals down to win 3-2, setting up a mouth-watering quarter-final clash with Brazil. Like Croatia, Belgium are also at 7.00 to win a first World Cup, but 4.33 to reach the final, whereas Croatia are priced at just 2.87.
Croatia will take on Russia in the quarter-finals, who put in two excellent showings in the group stage to beat Saudi Arabia and Egypt before eliminating 2010 World Cup winners Spain via a penalty shoot-out. The host nation are priced at 6.00 to reach the final, and a very long 21.00 if you think they can win the competition on home soil – only Sweden, at 26.00 are priced higher to win the World Cup outright.
Meanwhile, there are still four former champions very much alive and no one is looking stronger than Brazil.Tite’s side, which has conceded a single goal in four games so far, is the out and out favourite, at just 3.75 to add a record breaking sixth World Cup title to their CV, while fellow South Americans Uruguay, who last won the tournament back in 1950, are relative outsiders at 17.00.
France and England, meanwhile, have one World Cup title apiece and, given the premature elimination of the likes of Germany, Spain and Argentina this time around, may feel there will never be a better opportunity to win a second. France look to have the trickier route to the final, needing to negotiate a way past former world champions Uruguay before taking on the winners of the Brazil-Belgium clash.
Nevertheless, the French are at just 5.00 win the World Cup and 3.00 to reach the final. By way of comparison England, who look to have the simpler path, are the favourites to reach the final at a price of 2.50, and you can also earn a five-fold return on your investment should the Three Lions go on and win the World Cup.
And with a potential three games left in the competition, the race for the Golden Boot is heating up. With six goals to his name already, Harry Kane remains the clear favourite to take the crown, and is priced at just 1.28 to do so.
Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku is on four strikes, meanwhile, and you can back the Manchester United forward at 13.00 to overtake Kane. One goal behind Lukaku is France’s teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe, who bagged a brace against Argentina in the round of 16 and is looking better with each match – he is at 17.00 to with the prize.
The Golden Glove prize, for the men between the sticks, looks a little closer. Brazil’s Alisson remains the favourite at just 3.50, while England’s Jordan Pickford, after his penalty heroics against Colombia in the second round, is behind him at 5.50.
But arguably the biggest individual prize awarded is the Golden Ball, for best player at the tournament. Youngster Kylian Mbappe is currently the favourite at just 4.33 to collect the accolade.
Leading scorer Harry Kane is at just 5.00, while the Brazilian pair of Neymar and Philippe Coutinho are priced at 6.50 and 9.00 respectively.
World Cup quarter-final odds (after 90 minutes):
Friday, 6 July
3.00pm – (4.60) Uruguay x France (2.00); draw (3.20)
7.00pm – (2.10) Brazil x Belgium (3.75); draw (3.50)
Saturday, 7 July
3.00pm – (5.00) Sweden x England (1.83); draw (3.25)
7.00pm – (3.90) Russia x Croatia (2.25); draw (3.10)
World Cup finalists:
World Cup winners: