This summer, 32 of the world’s best international teams will battle it out in Russia to become the 2018 World Cup Winners. Of the home nations, only England made it through qualifying and the play-offs to reach the finals they take their place in Group G alongside Tunisia, Panama and Belgium.
The media have been playing down this inexperienced England squad’s chances of winning the World Cup but there are a number of teams that stand a much greater chance of success, according to the bookies anyway. So, let’s take a look now at the 2018 World Cup Winner odds, I’ll then examine the chances of some of the big favourites to win the World Cup and give my tips and predictions.
2018 FIFA World Cup Winner Odds: Outright
Odds correct at time of publication – click to see full market and odds.
World Cup Winner Preview
- Manager – Tite
- Group E – with Costa Rica, Serbia & Switzerland
- Key Men – Neymar (Ac), Thiago Silva (Dc), Philippe Coutinho (AMc)
Brazil will have revenge on their mind after losing 7-1 in the semi-final to Germany back on home soil in 2014. This Brazil team is a much stronger unit than the last yet it still retains the attacking brilliance of Neymar, although he now has greater support alongside him with Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus and Willian. Marquinhos will partner club mate Thiago Silva in central defence and that along with Fernandinho and Casemiro in midfield, should provide a solid foundation. I think this is a superbly balanced and in form Brazil squad that will be extremely hard to beat in Russia this summer.
- Manager – Joachim Low
- Group F – with Mexico, South Korea & Sweden
- Key Men – Manuel Neuer (G),Toni Kroos (Mc), Thomas Muller (AMc)
There are several question marks Joachim Low has to answer with his squad. Is Manuel Neuer fit enough to play despite missing almost the entire season at Bayern Munich through injury? Have Lahm and Schweinsteiger been adequately replaced and where will be play Thomas Muller, scorer of so many crucial goals in major tournaments for Germany. The Germans will be well prepared and tough to beat regardless of the final squad Low selects, but I do feel the team isn’t as strong as in 2014 and I think that they really lack a presence in attack to provide the cutting edge to the German’s strong defence and midfield. That in the end could be what costs them in the summer in my view, but they are a good bet to reach the semi-finals at the very least.
- Manager – Julen Lopetegui
- Group B – with Morocco, Iran & Portugal
- Key Men – David De Gea (G), Sergio Ramos (Dc), Isco (Mc)
Spain are certainly one of the dark horses for this tournament having beaten France, Italy and Argentina (by an incredible 6-1 scoreline) in recent times. They are unbeaten in 2017 and also 2018 thus far and have a relatively comfortable group, although they do begin with a tough opener, an Iberian Peninsula derby with Portugal. The Spanish squad has a nice mix of youth and experience and while I am not quite sure they have the quality to win it, I do feel that they can go very deep in he tournament if their top players perform to their best.
- Manager – Didier Deschamps
- Group A – with Australia, Denmark & Peru
- Key Men – Raphael Varane (Dc), Paul Pogba (Mc), Antoine Griezmann (Ac)
France have been one of the most talked about teams for this summer’s event with a crop of exciting young players coming through to add to an already talented group of players. Didier Deschamps will likely talk down France’s chances of success but the potential in the squad is massive. However, with Laurent Koscielny absent through injury, the defence will have to adjust to this. They have been drawn in a relatively comfortable group but my one worry for this team is a lack of experience at this level, rather than a lack of talent. They may not be quite ready now, but in 2 to 4 years’ time, this may well be one of the best French teams for a good while.
- Manager – Jorge Sampaoli
- Group D – with Croatia, Iceland & Nigeria
- Key Men – Lionel Messi (Ac), Angel Di Maria (AMl), Sergio Aguero (Ac)
The quality of attacking players Jorge Sampaoli has at his disposal is an embarrassment of riches, but in truth the key for him is deciding who to play to bring the best out of the greatest player of all time. The one thing missing for Lionel Messi is a starring role at a World Cup and at 30 years of age, this may well be his time to drag what is a brilliant attacking Argentina team, but one with real frailties at the back, to World Cup glory. They’ll make it through the group phase no problem and if Messi hits top form they could be one to watch. If the Barcelona man doesn’t though, then those defensive frailties I think will be their undoing against the top sides.
- Manager – Roberto Martinez
- Group A – with Tunisia, Panama & England
- Key Men – Eden Hazard (AMc), Romelu Lukaku (Ac), Kevin De Bruyne (Mc)
The Belgian Golden Generation of footballers may never have a better chance to prove their value on a world stage. After losing to Wales in the quarterfinals of Euro 2016, Roberto Martinez has been tasked with taking this very talented group of players further this summer. This is a hugely talented team across the board, from goalkeepers to attackers but they don’t have that big tournament winning mentality at international level and teams can get at them and cause them problems. For me Belgium are a squad of many brilliant individuals, but they are not quite yet knitted into a formidable team and that I feel is their biggest problem.
- Manager – Gareth Southgate
- Group A – with Tunisia, Panama & Belgium
- Key Men – Harry Kane (Ac), Dele Alli (Mc), Raheem Sterling (AMrc)
For once, England go into a major tournament without fevered pressure from the media at home expecting them to win it. Southgate has named a very young and defensive heavy England squad, which has several surprising omissions, notably Chris Smalling (while Phil Jones does go, very odd considering Smalling has been by far the better and more consistent player at Manchester United this season) and Jack Wilshere (left out due to fitness concerns, despite playing almost 40 games for Arsenal this season). England do have some talented players, notably Harry Kane, but if they can reach the quarterfinals, that would be seen as a big positive for Southgate’s men.
- Manager – Fernando Santos
- Group B – with Morocco, Iran & Spain
- Key Men – Cristiano Ronaldo (Ac), Bernardo Silva (AMl), Andre Silva (Ac)
The Euro 2016 Champions will have Cristiano Ronaldo leading the line in what is likely to be his final World Cup. This is a suad that doe have plenty of age to it (Their three best centre-backs have an average age of 35) but it also has some emerging younger talent too. Portugal made their name in Euro 2016 by being a team that was difficult to beat and that relied on the brilliance of Ronaldo to get them their crucial goals. However, two years on, I feel Ronaldo, while still a massive talent, does lack a yard of pace from his peak and I feel teams will have now figured out Portugal’s game-plan and be able to work their way past them.
- Manager – Oscar Tabarez
- Group A – with Egypt, Russia & Saudi Arabia
- Key Men – Diego Godin (Dc), Edinson Cavani (Ac), Luis Suarez (Ac)
This may be Uruguay’s experienced squad’s last hurrah at a big international tournament with several of their top players all 30+ and four players that have earned 100 or more caps in the squad (Pereira, Godin, Rodriguez & Cavani), plus two more likely to reach that milestone over the summer (Muslera and Suarez). They are anchored by the brilliant central defensive duo Godin and Giminez and have two of the best strikers at the World Cup in Suarez and Cavani. The quality in the squad drops sharply after that quartet though and while they are always tough to beat, and can beat anybody on their day, to do that over a lengthy tournament in sapping temperatures may be a big ask for their ageing squad.
World Cup Outright Winner Tips & Predictions
Looking through the contenders there are two teams that stand out for me and that is Brazil and Spain.
If these two meet in the tournament, then for me the winner will claim the trophy (if indeed they don’t meet in the final). It’s been a little while since a South American team won this trophy and I think Brazil could well end that drought this summer, so I am tipping Brazil to win.
Winner tip: I’m backing Brazil to win the World Cup – best odds with Betvictor where a £10 bet returns £55.00 if they win.