The 21st edition of the World Cup is well under way and some of the best players in world football are gracing the stage in Russia.
With 32 teams taking part it can be difficult to predict a winner, but some teams are inevitably better equipped than others when it comes to personnel.
However, at every major tournament there is always room for a dark horse to upset the established order.
So who’s the favourite to win the 2018 World Cup? Goal takes a look at the contenders for the highest prize in football.
Favourites to win the 2018 World Cup
Spain began the tournament as outside favourites to win the competition, but they have since overtaken other contenders, with dabblebet now considering them favourites at 17/4 to lift the trophy on June 15.
The 2010 world champions Spain are not the same Furia Roja that dominated international football from 2008 to 2012, but, with players such as Sergio Ramos, Diego Costa and Andres Iniesta at their disposal, they remain one of the most fearsome teams in the world.
Five-time champions Brazil had been installed as favourites after matchday one, but Neymar and Co. have slipped behind Spain at 9/2 after failing to impress sufficiently in the opening two games against Switzerland and Costa Rica. Tite’s men are in a tight group and face a crunch clash against Serbia as they look to secure their place in the knockout round.
Reigning champions Germany took a hit following their shock defeat to Mexico in their opening match and have subsequently seen their odds lengthen to 15/2, but a win. Joachim Low’s side, which still features a host of stars from the 2014 triumph, will now aim to win their last game in Group F against South Korea to reach the last 16.
Perennial dark horses Belgium arrived in Russia with a ‘Golden Generation’ – including players like Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku – which has now reached a level of maturity that should see them mount a serious challenge, something that is reflected in their price of 13/2.
The Red Devils reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup and were knocked out at the same stage at Euro 2016, but they have enough talent in their ranks to warrant a better display in Russia.
As well as Brazil, Germany and Spain, France are among the favourites to win the competition 20 years after their first and only triumph. It is not surprising to see Les Bleus so highly rated (8/1) considering that Didier Deschamps has an impressive pool of talent to draw from, which includes the likes of Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann.
World Cup 2018 outsiders
For years now pundits have observed that the only thing Lionel Messi needs to cement his status as the best player in football history is the World Cup. The Barcelona star was a beaten finalist in 2014 but the outlook does not look particularly good for 2018. Argentina’s qualification campaign almost ended in disaster and they needed a moment of Messi magic in the last game to secure their place at the tournament.
They are now priced at 20/1 to win the tournament, odds that have lengthened following their disappointing draw against Iceland and their shock defeat to Croatia. However, Nigeria’s victory over Iceland means they are still in with a chance of getting out of the group.
European champions Portugal have not been given much of a chance by bookmakers but it would be foolish to disregard the Cristiano Ronaldo factor. The Real Madrid man has finally rediscovered the kind of form that ensured a slew of accolades last season and he bagged a remarkable 15 goals in qualification.
Fernando Santos’ team is peppered with talented youngsters such as Andre Silva and Goncalo Guedes, but they boast one of the best players of all time in Ronaldo and that is significant. Indeed, after his hat-trick performance in the opening game against Spain and record-breaking goal against Morocco , their odds have dropped to 14/1.
Over the years England have had to contend with the pressure of expectation at successive World Cups, but that simply does not exist in 2018. In terms of star quality, Gareth Southgate’s side is a far cry from the ‘Golden Generation’ that fell short in the 2000s and they should perhaps be considered underdogs, but they remain outsiders at 11/1.
World Cup 2018 underdogs
Having upset the reigning champions Germany in the opening game of Group F, Mexico will be buoyant and feel they have a good chance of going all the way. El Tri have never managed to overcome the ‘Curse of the Fifth Game’ at the World Cup though, and at 28/1 their odds have shortened, but they are underdogs.
Two-time world champions Uruguay are another team who can be considered underdogs (25/1) at the 2018 World Cup, but they have shown that they can mount a challenge for honours. As well as winning early editions, the Celeste have finished fourth on three occasions.
They finished second to Brazil in CONMEBOL qualifying – ahead of Argentina – and the fact that they possess some of the best strikers in world football in Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani is a massive boost.
Croatia finished third at the World Cup in France 20 years ago but they have failed to replicate the same level of success since. Crashing out at the group stage in 2002, 2006 and 2014, their status as potential challengers is also undermined by the fact that they needed to qualify via the play-offs after being pipped by Iceland in their group.
However, with Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic in their ranks, they boast the kind of talent other nations envy. Having started out as definite underdogs at 28/1, a crushing win over Argentina has seen their odds shorten to 12/1.
World Cup 2018 long-shots
Every four years it seems that at least one team emerges from nowhere to qualify for the knock-out stages, inflicting upsets along the way. Senegal helped knock out the holders France in 2002, reaching the quarter-finals, and of the African teams involved they are deemed the most likely to make their mark in Russia at 125/1.
Out of 20 editions thus far, the World Cup has been won by tournament hosts on six occasions, but the 2018 hosts Russia are very much long-shots at 40/1. They struggled at the Confederations Cup last year, going out at the group stage, but it must be said that they are looking impressive at this summer’s tournament, with Aleksandr Golovin, in particular, shining.
Denmark needed a play-off to qualify for the World Cup, but they have a talented squad that includes Tottenham star Christian Eriksen and will hope to reach the knock-out stage at least. They are 80/1 to go all the way.
Iceland are competiting in the World Cup for the first time in history but their chances are not rated highly at 500/1, while another first-time participant, Panama , have even less of a chance at 1000/1.
Click here to see all the outright odds for the World Cup with dabblebet
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