Bookmakers are quoting odds of 5-1 about reigning World Champions Germany retaining their crown in Russia in 2018. Russia will gain automatic qualification as hosts and the draw for qualification will take place on 25th July 2015. Follow our guide below before you start your world cup betting.
The 2014 World Cup is the best recent guide to the prospects of teams, although a lot can change in the space of four years. Here is our brief assessment of the top ten teams plus the pick of the outsiders.
Joachim Low stated immediately after his team’s success in Brazil that the next few months would be incredibly hard. He has been proved correct as Germany have struggled in the early qualifying matches for Euro 2016.
Germany’s triumph in 2014 will be remembered for their incredible 7-1 victory over Brazil. They went on to beat Argentina 1-0 in the final to win the World Cup for the first time since 1990. If you take out the Brazil game, Germany were not that far ahead of their rivals and struggled to overcome France, USA and Algeria by a single goal. They were also held to a 2-2 draw by Ghana.
Germany are always to be respected at the major tournaments but nobody is expecting Germany to dominate world football as a result of the 2014 World Cup.
In reaching the World Cup Final, Argentina probably surpassed most people’s expectations. A bold showing had been anticipated with the tournament being staged in South America but they will not enjoy that advantage in 2018.
Much of the attention was focussed on Lionel Messi who started the tournament in blistering form but was less effective in the latter stages. It was Argentina’s strong defence that really saw them through against Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Spain went into the 2014 World Cup finals as reigning World and European champions. A thumping 5-1 defeat at the hands of the Netherlands in their opening group match proved too much for them to recover from, even though they had also lost their opening game in 2010.
They were beaten 2-0 by Chile and were already eliminated by the time they beat Australia 3-0 in their final group game. They had fallen from top of the official FIFA world rankings in June to tenth place by October. There are no obvious signs of a new wave of Spanish talent emerging and they are now in something of a rebuilding process.
With home advantage, Brazil were the favourites to win the World Cup in 2014. They had failed to convince everybody through the group stages and survived a scare to beat Chile on penalties in the round of 16. A 2-1 win over Colombia kept them on course before their world came crashing down at the hands of Germany in the semi-finals.
It was no surprise to see them easily beaten by the Netherlands in the play-off for third place and a new coach was installed in July. There have been some encouraging signs as they start to put that Germany nightmare behind them but the bookmakers are happy to lay them at 10-1.
Despite a quarter-final loss to Germany, France were one of the few teams to emerge from Brazil with a positive assessment. Coach Didier Deschamps has managed to bring an end to the decline in French International football that saw them slide to an official FIFA world ranking of 25 in August 2013. They are now back up to number seven and are regarded by many as leading contenders for Euro 2016.
They are the host nation for that event and they appear to have the perfect blend of youth and experience to continue their climb up the rankings. A strong showing at Euro 2016 could see their price cut to single figures for Russia 2018.
The Netherlands 16/1
The Netherlands were praised for their attacking style of football in the group stages in Brazil. Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie were instrumental in the 5-1 win over Portugal that set them on their way to a successful tournament.
Their play became more cautious in the latter stages, surviving a penalty shoot-out against Costa Rica before being eliminated by the same method by Argentina in the semi-finals. The Dutch have often flattered to deceive in the past and they will need some new superstars to carry their hopes in Russia.
The Italians were arguably the unluckiest side to be eliminated at the group stage. They were beaten 1-0 by Uruguay in a stormy encounter in which Luis Suarez would have been sent off had the referee seen the infamous “biting” incident. That aside, Italy were not particularly impressive against England or Costa Rica.
Belgium were regarded as one of the most promising teams of the 2014 World Cup with a host of young Premier League players in their side. They won all three group games, each by a single goal, before beating USA 2-1 after extra-time.
Belgium were eliminated by Argentina in a disappointing quarter-final in which they failed to show their true potential. They should have an even stronger team by Euro 2016 and remain one of the dark horses for Russia in 2018.
Colombia emerged from the 2014 with great credit after being knocked out in the quarter-finals by Brazil. They won all three of their group games against Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan and James Rodriguez was outstanding throughout the tournament. It remains to be seen whether they will be as effective in Russia but nobody will take them lightly.
England’s poor showing in Brazil had been widely anticipated. Coach Roy Hodgson was left in charge despite their early exit and his team responded with six straight wins. Some of the younger players are developing nicely but only a strong showing at Euro 2016 would see their odds change dramatically for Russia.
Best Of The Rest
It is 33/1 bar those ten teams. That includes the host nation, Russia, who are quoted as short as 12/1 in places but at 33/1 elsewhere. The bigger odds are a better reflection of their prospects on recent form. Chile performed well in Brazil but are 50-1 to win in 2018 while Portugal (33/1) and Uruguay (66/1) are the only other teams that are not available at 100-1 or bigger. Most bookmakers are offering ½ odds a place 1, 2 only.