For Russia the 2018 World Cup is a chance for some much needed good publicity. We don’t know what will happen off the pitch but on it the hosts are available at 50/1 and that seems right. A recent friendly against Brazil, five time winners and joint favourites at 5/1, saw a routine 3-0 win for the South Americans in Moscow. Brazil have much to prove with their 7-1 defeat to this year’s co-favourites Germany still haunting them from World Cup 2014. The Germans couldn’t follow up 2014’s World Cup victory in Euro 2016, losing in the semi-final to France who are rated at 6/1 for this year’s event, but they have a strong squad and tend to make the latter stages of tournaments as a matter of course.
France came up short against Portugal two years ago but have the greatest strength in depth of any team playing this summer. This blessing has sometimes seemed like a curse however as finding a best starting eleven from all that talent has proved difficult for Didier Deschamps. France’s conquerors two years ago, Portugal, are relative long shots in 2018 at 25/1 but they have a tight defence and arguably the best player in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo.
Some say Ronaldo but there are many more who say Messi is the greatest. Unfortunately for the Argentine his countrymen may not be up to the task of cementing his legacy with the trophy. Available at 10/1 they were beaten 6-1 in a warm-up match by Spain who can be backed at 7/1 outright. The Argentinian forward line is spectacular but it must be to compensate for the goals their weaker defence will concede. Spain, winners in 2010, showed that a resurgence may be on the cards now that they have some genuine striking options and also merit consideration.