Betting on the World Cup winner has always been one of the main types of bets during the biggest football event on the planet. In the last more than 70 years fans have witnessed a lot of surprises, both in the preliminary stage and the knockout stage.
There have always been firm favourites for winning the World Cup and the 2018 World Cup in Russia is no different. Teams like England, Brazil and Germany are always in the list with the title contenders, but rarely predictions are accurate. A very good example for that is the final between France and Brazil in 1998. The Brazilians were favourites with names like Ronaldo, Cafu, Roberto Carlos and Rivaldo leading the team. In the end, however, France won with 3-0 and proved that odds cannot be always trusted.
Even with such a descriptive example, 20 years has passed and predictions are much more reliable in our days. Read below to see which are the teams most possibly to win according to the bookies, how to make the right choice for an outright bet and our own prediction.
Who are the favourites according to bookmakers?
Since the World Cup takes place every four years, defending your title is not an easy task. An example for this is Spain, who were the first team to win 2 consecutive European championships and the World Cup in between. When speaking about the World Cup, only Italy and Brazil were capable of defending their titles from the previous tournament, something that will Germany try to repeat this year.
Let’s have a look on the top 5 favourites for winning the 2018 World Cup according to the bookies.
Germany won their fourth World title in Brazil 2014. The most remarkable during their road to success was the unseen-before victory over hosts from Brazil with 7-1.
The German squad suffered some major changes after this long-awaited title. Captain Philipp Lahm retired from the national team, followed by the player with most goals in the tournament – Miroslav Klose. Even so, the German squad has some of the top football players in the world in the likes of Manuel Neuer, Toni Kroos, Mesut Özil, Thomas Müller and Mats Hummels. This group of world-class players is supported by some of the biggest young talents such as Joshua Kimmich and Leroy Sane. An interesting fact is that the player who scored the goal in the final against Argentina, Mario Götze was not called in the team, so he won’t be able to help his colleagues in their long and difficult path to becoming world champions again.
Germany are considered to be major title contenders alongside Brazil. Odds for Germany to win the World Cup vary slightly, but the best are 5.50 William Hill. These are pretty decent odds since if Germany keeps their style of play and motivation from 4 years ago, there is barely any squad who can stop them.
Brazil are the nation that have won the World Cup a whopping 5 times, the last one of which being in 2002. After that they had to change their golden generation and did not make anything memorable in the following tournaments, the lowest point of which being the lost to Germany with 1-7 while being hosts of the 2014 World Cup.
Brazil have always played the most entertaining and eye-catching football in the world. During the last 20 years players like Ronaldo, Kaka, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo and Roberto Carlos were entertaining the crowds across the world and still managed to win 2 World Cups (1994 and 2002) and played in the final in the 1998 World Cup in France. In recent years, the coaches of the team tried to switch to a more pragmatic way of playing, something the fans didn’t like a lot. Even so, players like Marcelo, Dani Alves, Philippe Coutinho and especially Neymar have proved that winning and beautiful play may come hand-by-hand.
Despite the recent injury of Brazil’s superstar Neymar, who just started training again, Brazil are considered as firm favourites for the 2018 World Cup. Most of the best bookmakers give them equal chances with Germany of winning the tournament. Odds for Brazil winning the title are 5.50 Betway further proving that Brazil and Germany are the two teams we will probably see in the final at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, unless they they don’t meet each other earlier in the competition.
Spain won their first and only world title in 2010, defeating Netherlands on the final. Two years before that, they won the Euro 2008, something they repeated 4 years later – in 2012. Spain, just like Germany, had to deal with players retiring from international football. Xavi, Carles Puyol, Iker Casillas and Xabi Alonso are the biggest names missing from the squad, with the World Cup being surely Andres Iniesta’s last big international tournament.
Even so, Spain still have names such as Sergio Ramos, David Silva, Sergio Busquets and Thiago Alcantara who are capable of deciding any game with just one touch of the ball. Isco and Marco Asensio are rising stars which the Spanish coach must rely on if he wants to repeat the success of his predecessor in 2010. An interesting name that is also missing from the group of 23 players is Alvaro Morata who, after the disappointing season in Chelsea, wasn’t called in the squad from 23 players who will defend the Spanish flag.
Spain will have to show early in the competition that they are worthy of winning the World Cup with the opening game against latest Euro Cup winners Portugal being definitely their toughest match in the Group Stage. Cristiano Ronaldo and company will give everything they can to have a flying start in the tournament which means the game that will be played on the 15th of June will be crucial for the hopes and dreams of both teams.
Spain chances of winning the 2018 World Cup in Russia are slightly worse than those of the main title contenders – Brazil and Germany. Spain highest outright odds of 7.50 can be found at Betway.
France have a very young and talented generation. They reached the final in the 2016 UEFA European Championship which they lost to Portugal but definitely showed their class during the whole competition.
Picking only 23 players for the final squad must have been a very difficult task for Didier Deschamps who really has a group of extraordinary players. Starting with one of the best goalkeepers in the last couple of years – Hugo Lloris, young centre-backs in the likes of Umtiti and Varane and midfield – engines like Kante and Pogba. But where France really shine is their attack formed by Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe.
Due to all that talent, France are up their next to the main favourites for winning the World Cup. It is still unclear whether Deschamps will be able to encourage his biggest star in the midfield – Paul Pogba. He had some arguments with his coach in Manchester United and is definitely not in his best form in the last couple of months. Meanwhile, he is a very important part of the tactics and France need him in his best shape.
May be that is the reason why France lack something in comparison to teams like Spain and Germany since midfielders are the most important part of any squad. Currently bookies, like Ladbrokes give France odds of 7.0 of winning the World Cup which is not bad, but given the players they have, is a bit of disappointing.
Argentina have been in the predictions for winning a major football tournament for the last more than 10 years. And how could it be different when you have arguably the best football player the world has seen?
The truth is Argentina have a generation that must have won at least Copa America a couple of times, instead of finishing as runner ups. The attacking power of Argentina is just mind-blowing – Messi, Higuain, Aguero and superstars like Dybala, di Maria and Ever Banega to organize the play in the center. But even with so much classy players, Argentina has always disappointed – two lost finals in Copa America and a lost final in the 2014 World Cup. This tournament will definitely be the last chance for Messi and company to show they should be considered all-time best players.
Unfortunately for Argentinian fans, leading bookmakers also don’t think that this squad is capable of winning the gold.The odds for Argentina to win are 10.00 @ Bet365 which really shows that something is wrong in the squad. For example, Belgium have odds of 12.00, while England who barely reach quarter finals at any major tournaments have odds of 19.00, all bet365.
How to make the right choice?
Outright betting has always been a bit risky because there are a lot things that can go wrong. Even so, the prospect of winning has been too temptive for many who wish to invest a small sum with the chance of winning big.
When it comes to the World Cup and betting on the winner, there are a lot of variables that can change the outcome of the game. Injuries are the most common obstacle bettors face. An injury of an important player can mean all chances of his squad of winning are gone. An example for that is the ban of Diego Maradona for the 1994 World Cup which saw Argentina getting defeated by Bulgaria.
The best way to have a slightly bigger chance of guessing the World Cup winner is to check the group standings, try to predict who will finish on first and second place and see the schedule for the elimination phase. There are a lot of ifs in this strategy, but at least you will be a bit more prepared and done your homework.
If you are, however, willing to spend just a couple of bucks on guessing who will win the World Cup, that is alright, but if you want to have a steady income during the whole tournament, then there are a couple of strategies you can follow:
Name the finalists
This type of betting gives you a higher chance of winning since you can pick two teams and not one for your bet.
Picking a top goalscorer is not so difficult because there are a handful of players capable of scoring a lot of goals. Yes, the names which are considered to win this prize are Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, with Neymar coming close in third place.
Betting on Over 2.5 Goals during the Group Stage
Games during the Group Stage are more opened and the likelihood of having more than 2 goals is higher. This is the time when, in most cases, the goalscorer is decided, since it is much more difficult to score in the elimination phase. That means you will win even you have not backed the actual winner.
Betting on Draw in the Knockout Stage
Once the teams enter the elimination phase, they get a lot more cautious and the chance of a game to finish a draw with less than 2 goals scored after 90 minutes is higher. This strategy directly leads to the next one.
Betting on Under 2.5 Goals in the Knockout Stage
As we said, the Knockout Stage is totally different from the Group Stage. Teams tend to play way more defensively and to be cautious during the whole game. The chance a tight game between, let’s say Uruguay and Croatia, to finish with more than 2 goals scored after 90 minutes is not very likely.
With all the above mentioned strategies it is clear that betting on the winner in the 2018 World Cup is not the most profitable strategy. Yes, it is fun to keep your fingers crossed for a month, but there are definitely more successful strategies out there. So, our advice is to spend those 10 bucks on your favourite, but if you want to rely not only on pure luck, do your homework, check the odds constantly, and remember – in the Knockout Stage the game, if a draw, doesn’t finish after 90 minutes, and the likelihood of a draw and a game under 2.5 goals si very high.
Our prediction for the winner of the World Cup 2018
Picking the winner for the World Cup is difficult. If we must rely only on the odds given from bookmakers, then Germany and Brazil seem as an easy choice. But is that really so?
Brazil were firm favourites when they hosted the tournament 4 years ago but were swept by Germany. Germany, on the other hand, are the reigning world champions but had to deal with the absence of their most experienced players. France have a really talented squad but will Pogba be in form for the start of the competition? Spain, just like Germany deal with their older and experienced players retiring one after another. Argentina might do something, but that is likely not going to happen.
That leaves us with teams like Belgium and England who also have some minor chances of winning the title. Belgium have a decent generation but were not capable of showing anything spectacular on the Euro 2 years ago. England, on the other hand, have always been there when it comes to winning something major, but managed to win the World Cup 52 years ago, and to reach the Semi Finals of the Euro 22 years ago.
After this short analysis, let’s try to be more focused. If you want to play it safe, follow the bookies and bet on Germany or Brazil. If you feel that none of these teams will be able to win, then our prediction is, bet on France. They are young, have a huge amount of talent in all areas on the field and are surely hungry for success.
In the end however, don’t forget the famous saying from Gary Lineker: “Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.”
Read more about World Cup 2018:
- World Cup 2018 – groups, venues, schedule & favourites
- World Cup 2018 – Group Stage predictions & analysis
- Betting odds for the World Cup 2018 goalscorer