World Cup 2018 Winner predictions – favourites & odds

De Bruyne - Lukaku (Belgium)

Each of the nations turning up at the 2018 World Cup will be bringing their own unique qualities and strengths to the table. Some nations will be turning up knowing that they aren’t going to win the tournament outright and where even getting out of the group stage would be deemed a success for them.

Other nations will be arriving in Russia with huge expectations of winning the event.

Here we preview the main contenders for the 2018 World Cup title and will assess the chances of a couple of the strongest outsiders with the most potential to defy larger odds and pull off an upset.

Brazil – will they succeed again?

Brazil are the most successful nation ever in the history of the World Cup having won the title five times and having lost in two other finals. Four years ago on home soil, they were looking like the ones to beat but their campaign came crashing down in heavy loss against eventual champions Germany at the semi-final stage. Four years on Brazil are looking stronger than ever and could take some stopping in the tournament.

Even though on their fitness concerns over star striker Neymar, Brazil look to have a more well-rounded squad and better options than they did four years ago. The Selecao have now world-class goalkeeper in Roma’s Alisson and they have a bit of steel in the middle of the park with the likes of Manchester City’s Fernandinho and Real Madrid’s Casemiro. Then there is the usual Brazilian flair and they have great options in the likes of William, Philippe Coutinho, Fred, Neymar, Roberto Firmino and Gabriel Jesus.

If Neymar, who has scored 53 goals in just 83 caps for his country, is fit following his broken foot injury picked up in early 2018, Brazil’s chances of getting their hands on the title will increase. They have a good back up in Gabriel Jesus who is the 3/1 second favouirte* (betting odds taken from bet365 at 4:25 p.m. on May 25, 2018) to finish as their top scorer at the tournament. Perhaps the one area where Brazil may fall short is in defence. They have an experienced backline with the likes of Thiago Silva and Marcelo, but it’s most certainly not the youngest defence with their main core all over the age of 30.

They are justifiably one of the front runners to win the 2018 World Cup, and they pretty much cruised their way through qualification. Anything less than a place in the final four for Brazil would be a huge disappointment for the country, most likely for the neutrals and it would also be a huge surprise given how good their squad looks. Brazil are odds-on favourites to win each of their group stage matches which are against Switzerland, Costa Rica and then Serbia and Brazil are 9/4 odds to reach the final at bet365* (betting odds taken from bet365 at 4:25 p.m. on May 25, 2018).

Outright Odds* for the World Cup 2018

Brazil 4/1, Germany 9/2, Spain 6/1, France 13/2, Argentina 9/1, Belgium 11/1, England 18/1, Portugal 25/1, Uruguay 33/1, Croatia 33/1, Colombia 40/1, Russia 40/1, Poland 50/1, bar 100/1* (betting odds taken from bet365 at 4:25 p.m. on May 25, 2018)

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Germany – will they defend their title?

The Germans were efficiently superior to everyone else four years ago in Brazil as they won their fourth World Cup title. After winning their group they needed extra time in the round of 16 to get past Algeria, but then marched their way past France, Brazil and then Argentina in the final to earn their success. Four years later Germany are once again one of the front-runners to come out on top in the latest edition of the tournament.

Germany looks to have a well-rounded squad again, with good options between the sticks in Manuel Neuer and Marc-Andre ter Stegen, and you know they are going to be tough to break down at the back. Unlike most of the defences of the front-running teams at the tournament, Germany’s defence is young in comparison. They have wonderful experience in the middle of the park boosted by great creativity in the likes of Leroy Sane, Ilkay Gundogan and Mesut Ozil.

Up front they look to be a little bit more balanced than they were four years ago actually with their star man Thomas Muller being supported by not only veteran Mario Gomez but young star Timo Werner who has seven international goals in just 12 caps for Germany at the time of writing. He has the potential to be a huge star at the 2018 World Cup and is the 11/4 favouirte* (betting odds taken from bet365 at 4:25 p.m. on May 25, 2018) to be Germany’s top scorer.

So, as usual, there are strengths throughout the squad for Germany and they have landed in a manageable group in the first round of action as they will be facing Mexico, Sweden and South Korea. Germany are 4/9 odds favourites* (betting odds taken from bet365 at 4:25 p.m. on May 25, 2018) to win Group F. If the draw pans out with Germany winning their group it may be all European opponents that they face during the knockout stages on their route to the final and they are so strong among their continental rivals.

Germany are 9/4 odds joint favourites* (betting odds taken from bet365 at 4:25 p.m. on May 25, 2018) alongside Brazil at bet365 to reach the final. Looking at their squad and their form in recent World Cups, where they have finished in the top three in each of the last four editions of the tournament, then it makes sense to expect them to get back there. Given the way the draw that is lined up if they and Brazil win their groups and progress through the knockout stages, then they would meet in the showcase match.

Spain – will they continue their unbeaten streak?

Four years ago Spain had a disastrous World Cup title defence. The Spaniards crashed out in the group stage of the competition after back-to-back opening defeats against the Netherlands and then Chile. But the Red Fury looks to have settled themselves down well after that setback, and they went unbeaten right from their Euro 2016 exit through to the March internationals in 2018. During those March friendly games, Spain played out a 1-1 draw with Germany before producing a stunning 6-1 victory over Argentina.

Spain have a manager in Julen Lopetegui who looks to have gotten them back to the top of their game again. There is a strong main core running through the Spanish squad, with the likes of Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, David Silva and Andres Iniesta, but there is a lot of younger quality now which has fully been established at this level, like Koke, Isco, Thiago and Marco Asensio.

So they have nice blend about them and although overall their squad is perhaps lacking that true world-class striker, they have in Diego Costa a man who’s not afraid to mix it up with opposing defenders, and he is always up for the fight. But once again the main strengths of Spain are going to be in the midfield area where they liked control so much possession and finer inch-perfect pass to carve open a defence.

Even though Spain have to face Portugal in the group stage of the tournament, the Spaniards are favourites to win their group and roll their way through the competition. The path that they could take to the final is actually not quite as bad as some of the other main contenders and they have every chance of landing themselves in the final four. Spain are 10/3 odds to make it* (betting odds taken from bet365 at 4:25 p.m. on May 25, 2018) to the 2018 World Cup final.

France – will the young team make the grade?

France may well be a bit of a puzzle for punters looking at World Cup 2018 betting. They are certainly among the front-runners to launch a successful title campaign, and on the back of their near miss at Euro 2016 they clearly have the squad assembled which can handle tournament football. However their path through the knockout stage of this summer’s competition could be fraught with danger.

France kick off in Group C where they will face Australia, Peru and Denmark and it will be a major shock if the French didn’t get out of the group and pose a threat in the knockout stages. France most likely won’t get an easy round of 16 tie because they can be facing somebody like Argentina or Croatia and that would be a tough entrance into the knockout stage of the competition.

So things will ramp up quickly for France. Other prospective opponents through the knockout stages on the way to the final would be Uruguay or Portugal in the quarter finals then potentially Brazil in the semi finals. So the French are certainly going to have their work cut out for them. But even with all of that said France are 11/4 odds favourites* (betting odds taken from bet365 at 4:25 p.m. on May 25, 2018) to reach the final.

They certainly have a tremendous squad that should be able to handle the task ahead of them at the tournament. They have strong goalkeeping in Tottenham Hugo Lloris, powerful and versatile defenders, a nice balance of strength and creativity (as well as pace) in the midfield and they can rely on the goals of Antoine Griezmann too. So they are set up well, and the bonus as well about France is that they are a relatively young they are. Their provisional squad had just five players over the age of 30 in it.

Argentina – will Messi impress again?

Argentina can boast one of the best players in the history of the game in Lionel Messi and what will give them a boost is that he was in tremendous form for Barcelona across the course of the season. Can he turn up at Russia 2018 and produce a campaign where Argentina are able to get success on the back of his performances? Four years ago they lost out in the final and seeing them get back to that stage this time around looks a long shot.

Argentina were pretty poor through their World Cup 2018 qualification campaign really and didn’t impress at all. Certainly not as an attacking force. Of the five nations who qualified from CONMEBOL, the Albiceleste were the lowest scorers of them all. That will be a concern for them heading to the World Cup. But, four years ago they went through their four matches after the group stage scoring just the two goals and still made it to extra time in the World Cup Final.

They are lacking a major output going forward, averaging barely over a goal per game in qualification and that is in spite of all the attacking talent like Messi, Sergio Aguero, Angel di Maria and Paulo Dybala. The potential is there for Argentina, but they are a side which more often than not plays within themselves. Even though current head coach Paulo Sampaoli, who was brought in at the back end of the qualification campaign, is a more offensive minded boss, it’s still hard to see them busting out of their shell

You will more likely than not see Argentina just trying a hold back and not concede, while looking for something on the break. They don’t look likely to dominate teams, certainly not when they go up against any of the other front-runners for the 2018 World Cup. Their strengths are defensive, and they can rely on those players that they have in their squad who can produce those individual moments of magic. Argentina 4/1 odds* (betting odds taken from bet365 at 4:25 p.m. on May 25, 2018) to make it back to the World Cup final.

Belgium and England – though job

The two main dark horse threats at the 2018 World Cup, based on the World Cup outright winner odds at bet365 are Belgium and England. Interestingly the two of them are together in Group G and both are likely to find their way through to the knockout stages. However when you look at the draw and project both of them through to the quarter-finals that’s really when things are going to become very tough for both of them. In some configuration depending on the finishing positions of the two Europeans in Group G, more likely than not Brazil and Germany will have to be taken on at that stage. So when looking at one of those underdogs to come through all the way to the final and win it, there is going to be immensely tough work to do and both only represent an each way chance at the very best.


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