Former champions Spain, France and Brazil also in hunt for title
We are now just a few days away from the FIFA World Cup. On 14 June, Russia and Saudi Arabia will play the World Cup opener in Moscow, but there are four former World Cup winners looking to add to their impressive trophy cabinets.
Before the game kicks off
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The winners of the last World Cup in Brazil were Germany, who defeated Argentina 1-0 in the final at the Maracanã. And there is a strong chance that the squad Joachim Low has brought to this tournament may be even stronger than in 2014.
The defence remains strong and experienced while a wealth of young attacking options adds verve to this outfit. Low’s experimental young squad lifted the Confederations Cup last year to give the players a timely morale boost.
The Germans are priced at 5.50 to win a second successive title, and they would appear to have the firepower to do so. They have been drawn in Group F, alongside Mexico, Sweden and South Korea, and are priced at 1.33 to win the group, according to Oddsshark.
In 2014, Brazil were thrashed 7-1 in the semi-final by the eventual winners, but are coming back stronger than ever. Their record under current boss Tite is nothing short of phenomenal, with the side winning 16 of his 20 games in charge while conceding at a rate of under 0.5 goals per game.
In addition, after a few scares, Brazil should be able to count on star forward Neymar who faced 98 days out with a broken foot. The PSG forward came on in the second half against Croatia and scored a fantastic individual goal to break the deadlock.
It is no exaggeration to say he will be pivotal to Brazil’s chances of winning the World Cup. Neymar is priced at 11.00 to be leading scorer at the tournament, with only Argentina forward Lionel Messi ahead of him in the odds, at 10.00.
Brazil come into this tournament in as good a form as they possibly could. The five-time world champions are priced at 5.00 to win the World Cup for a record sixth time.
Meanwhile, Euro 2016 finalists France have arguably the strongest squad on paper. The likes of KylianMbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann looks to be the most potent attacking trident at the tournament, and provided the defence remains sturdy then coach Didier Deschamps could be lifting the World Cup as manager, as he did as captain 20 years ago in 1998.
France reached the quarter-finals in 2014 but the pressure has certainly been elevated this time around. The Blues are in Group C alongside Australia, Peru and Denmark, and are priced at 1.050 to qualify and 1.28 to top the group.
That makes them overwhelming favourites to reach the round of 16, but Peru could have the ability to catch them out, especially now Paolo Guerrero has been cleared to play at the tournament. However, after reaching the last eight in 2014 and the final of Euro 2016, the time may well be right for this France side to go all the way.
Deschamps’ side are priced at 7.50 to win the World Cup and at that price could well be worth a punt. If they make a strong start then there could be no stopping them.
But one side looking to bounce back from the abject disappointment of 2014 is Spain. Winner of the World Cup in 2010 when they were considered the greatest team on the planet, but heavy defeats to Holland and Chile in Brazil saw the then-defending world champions were prematurely eliminated.
Manager JulenLopetegui has rebuilt the side in his own image, which admittedly may not be as strong as the team which won three successive titles between 2008 and 2012, but there is no doubt that Spain come into this World Cup with an excellent chance of lifting the trophy. The squad has a strong midfield and the likes of David Silva and Andres Iniesta have been there, done that and bought the proverbial T-shirt.
Spain are priced at 7.00 to win the World Cup and given their strength in depth there is no reason why they cannot be the last team standing. Following disappointments in 2014 and 2016, Spain have the technical quality to put themselves back on top of the pile.
Outright odds to win the World Cup: Brazil (5.00), Germany (5.50), Spain (7.00), France (7.50), Argentina (10.00), Belgium (12.00)