The 2018 World Cup kicks off in a month’s time with 32 nations battling it out for football’s biggest prize.
Germany head into this summer’s tournaments as the defending champions and as the bookmakers’ second favourites, with odds only narrowly longer than Brazil.
Joachim Low’s side were the only nation to go through qualifying with a 100% winning record as they look to match Brazil’s record of winning the World Cup for a fifth time.
The Germans have every reason to feel confident in being successful this summer with the likes of Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the form of his life, a very dependable back four that includes Bayern Munich trio Joshua Kimmich, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels. Creativity in midfield comes from the likes of Toni Kroos, Julian Draxler and Leroy Sane, whilst Thomas Muller and Timo Werner are up front to score the goals.
Whilst Brazil are in a much better shape than they were four years ago, humiliated 7-1 on home soil by Germany in the semi-finals, whether Tite’s side have the players to take them all the way still remains to be seen. They have one of the top goalkeeper’s in Europe right now in Allison but right-back Dani Alves has been ruled out of the tournament through injury. Marcelo can be a liability defensively on the opposite flank, though in Thiago Silva and Marquinhos they have a sold centre-back duo. Going forward Neymar is obviously the star player but the Paris Saint-Germain forward has a much better supporting cast than he did in the previous World Cup – with the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Willian and Paulinho in better form.
France and Spain are next among the bookmakers’ favourites to go all the way for the second time in each of their nations’ histories, whilst Belgium are generally considered the best hope for the outsiders.
The tournament begins on Thursday 14 June with hosts Russia taking on Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on opening night. Despite a woeful showing at Euro 2016 where they collected just one point, Russia are clear odds-on favourites with many tipsters picking them from the opening game. In fact, many Russia v Saudi Arabia World Cup tips are heavily in favour of the European nation to beat the Middle Eastern country.
Although the hosts have been handed a favourable draw with Uruguay and Egypt also in their group they will do very well to get further than the second round where Group A meets Group B, where Spain and Portugal are both drawn.