Now we know all the names of the 32 teams that have qualified for the 2018 World Cup alongside host nation Russia, so it is a right time to think about placing a bet on the tournament winner. Most people would go for the favourites, major upsets do happen at the World Cup but most times one of the top five teams on paper ends up winning the tournament. Let’s have a look at the teams that most bookmakers regard as favourites to win the World Cup in 2018.
The Germans have been beyond impressive at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which they eventually won after beating Argentina 1-0 in the final with an extra-time goal from Mario Gotze. Perhaps the match most people will remember from the 2014 World Cup is the semi-final between Germany and host nation Brazil, a match that saw a rampaging German outfit thrash the home side 7-1.
Since then Germany had a disappointing appearance at the 2016 European Championship, where they lost 2-0 to France in the first knockout round. They did win the 2017 edition of the FIFA Confederations Cup, though, after defeating Chile 1-0 in the final. They also had to go through qualification for the 2018 World Cup, despite being the reigning world champions. They breezed through their qualification group, winning ten matches out of ten and scoring an impressive 43 goals in the process. They are unbeaten in their last 21 matches in all competitions and are 5/1 at most bookmakers to win the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Head coach Joachim Low, who led them to victory in Brazil in 2014, is still in charge of the national team and some of the key players from the 2014 tournament are still in action (Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller).
Brazil is desperate to fight back after the disappointing finale to the 2014 World Cup on home soil; their fans are very demanding and quite hopeful as well considering the number of superstars in the squad. However, since the 2014 World Cup Brazil were unable to get any silverware back home despite having played two editions of the Copa America. In 2015 they lost to Paraguay in the first knockout round and then in 2016 they suffered an even bigger humiliation as they failed to qualify from the group stage.
They did make amends with their performances in the South American World Cup qualification group, which they won quite comfortably. They lost just one of their eighteen qualification matches and finished at the top of the group with a ten-point cushion over second-placed Colombia. Like Germany, Brazil are 5/1 to win the World Cup in 2018 according to most bookmakers including bet365, and all eyes will be on superstar striker Neymar, the most expensive transfer in the history of football since his move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for 222 million euros. Brazil has not won the World Cup since 2002.
France lost to Germany in the quarter-finals at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but then they managed to progress all the way to the final at the 2016 European Championship. They did lose the final to Portugal, but getting there was quite an achievement after several years of underwhelming performances.
They qualified for the 2018 World Cup after winning seven of their ten matches in the qualification group, with the highlight being a 4-0 home victory over the Netherlands. They did lose 2-1 to Sweden and also 2-0 against Spain in a friendly match this year, but the squad is strong and experienced. Head coach Didier Deschamps will rely on Paul Pogba to boss the midfield and on Antoine Griezmann to score the goals. France has not won the World Cup since 1998, but they are 11/2 at most bookmakers to win the 2018 tournament.
Spain had been dominating the world of international football until the 2014 World Cup, where they suffered a shock elimination in the group stage. Before that tournament, Spain had won the European Championship in 2008, the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championship again in 2012. They failed to recover from that disappointment at the 2016 European Championship, where they lost 2-0 against Italy in the first knockout round.
They did manage to pull off an impressive string of results in the following World Cup qualification campaign, they secured nine wins out of ten games and won their group quite easily. Moreover, rivals Italy were eventually left at home after being forced into a losing play-off tie against Sweden. Head coach Julen Lopetegui was appointed in July 2016 and is still undefeated after thirteen matches in charge. He has won the European Championships with Spain’s Under-21 and Under-19 national sides but has never been at a major international tournament with a senior team. The Spaniards are 15/2 at most bookmakers to win the 2018 World Cup.
Argentina did well to reach the final of the 2014 World Cup but they lost that match to Germany and never seemed to recover from that disappointment. In 2015 they reached another final, at the Copa America, but failed to win the trophy once again as they lost to Chile in the final. Then, in 2016, they reached the Copa America final but they lost again to Chile. Superstar Lionel Messi even announced his retirement from international football after that defeat, but later on he changed his mind and returned to represent his nation.
The qualification campaign for the 2018 World Cup was filled with troubles and largely disappointing results for Argentina; they were even in real danger of failing to qualify. They only managed to win seven of their eighteen qualification matches but eventually secured their tickets for Russia 2018 with a 3-1 victory over Ecuador in the final qualification match. Former Chile boss Jorge Sampaoli is in charge of the Argentinian national team now and his experience, along with the immense quality of the players in the squad, might lead Argentina to their first World Cup title since 1986. Most bookmakers give Argentina an 8-to-1 chance of winning the 2018 World Cup in Russia.