The World Cup is fast approaching and football fans from all over the world will be waiting in anticipation, each with their own idea of who will win the game’s greatest prize. But which of the big name favourites has the best chance of winning?
Germany claimed the crown in 2014 but will start as second favourites behind Brazil, the team they beat 7-1 in their own backyard four years ago. So, why have the bookmakers got the South Americans as favourites this time round?
Well, first and foremost, Brazilian superstar Neymar has raised his game to another level since 2014. Back then, he had only been playing in Europe for a year and was still adapting to life in Spain. He went on to score 105 goals for the Catalan club and has already netted 28 times in 30 appearances for his new club, Paris Saint-Germain.
In addition to Neymar’s overall improvement, other stars such as Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino have also raised their games to new levels. Goalkeepers Alisson and Ederson have been two of the most consistent performers in Europe this year, and there is quality throughout the squad, with players from top teams such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Liverpool. They do appear to have a ready-made dream team at their disposal. They are priced at around 4/1, while Neymar is 10/1 to be top goalscorer. You can find more information about other World Cup betting markets and more tips at www.footballtips.com, where it’s difficult to look past the samba side as winners.
Most likely to challenge them
Germany have an incredible record in international tournaments and, for many, they are the most likely challengers to the South Americans. In fact, they have crept ahead of them in the betting at times. As reigning champions, they have to be considered, but there is a feeling that they are not quite at the level of four years ago. While many of their star players have retired, they still have a roster of World Cup winners and exciting young talent to call upon. Players such as Joshua Kimmich, Timo Werner and Leroy Sane helped them win 100% of their matches in the qualifying campaign.
Germany have an incredible record in international tournaments and, for many, they are the most likely challengers to the South Americans.
Of course, there are other teams who could go all the way this summer in Russia. Spain are looking strong again and have excellent strength throughout the squad. They are unbeaten under coach Julen Lopetegui and won nine of their ten qualifying matches, the other ending in a draw in Italy.
France look to have one of the strongest squads on paper. The test will be whether they can translate that strength into results at the highest level. They did reach the finals of Euro 2016 on home soil but were disappointingly beaten by Portugal in the final. Their qualifying featured a defeat to Sweden and draws against Belarus and Luxembourg.
Argentina should not be ruled out. In Jorge Sampaoli, they have an exciting coach at the helm, and they have an excellent group of players to call upon, including Lionel Messi. However, a recent 6-1 friendly defeat to Spain exposed some of their defensive weaknesses as well as their reliance on Messi, who was absent that night.
The Dark Horses
When considering dark horses for the World Cup, Belgium immediately spring to mind. Priced as high as 12/1, the Belgium squad contains players such as Thibaut Courtois, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderwiereld, Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku to name just a few. A string of poor performances under previous boss Marc Wilmots dented their reputation somewhat but they have excelled under Roberto Martinez playing some exciting football and scoring a huge amount of goals. They line up in Group G alongside England, Tunisia and Panama and stand a good chance of winning it.
Another team that will be looking to claim their first World Cup title is Portugal. The Euro 2016 winners will be hoping that they can take home the title with their attacking flair and talismanic Cristiano Ronaldo. Should they defy their odds of around 25/1, the debate surrounding the Messi v Ronaldo battle may finally be settled. The World Cup looks to be an exciting tournament, yet again – only time will tell who will get their hands on the world’s most coveted football trophy.