World Cup 2018
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World Cup 2018

The qualifying stage of the 2018 World Cup is now over, and the 32 teams who will battle it out in Russia have now been decided. 31 teams from all over the world have qualified for the event, and they join the hosts in what is sure to be a memorable tournament. The games begin on June 14, with the final taking place just over a month later on July 15. The event is the biggest in the footballing calendar, and all eyes are sure to be on Russia this summer.

Who Could Win – World Cup 2018 Winner Odds

This looks to be one of the most wide-open competitions we have seen for a while, and the majority of the bookmakers cannot split the front three in the World Cup betting. Brazil, France and Germany are considered the favourites to win the competition, although with the likes of Spain, Argentina and Belgium close behind. It goes to show that this tournament is up for grabs.

Of those teams mentioned, only the Belgian squad are yet to really show what they can do on the world stage. The rest all have vital experience playing at major tournaments, something which will stand them in good stead as they head to Russia. You cannot put a price on experience going into a tournament like this and while they all have players who are young and approaching their first tournament, they also have players who have experienced many tournaments before.

While the winner of the tournament is likely to come from those six, there are many outsiders that the big guns won’t fancy playing in a one-off game. Teams like England, Portugal, Uruguay and even the hosts Russia, with home advantage, all have the ability to shock anyone on their day. Further down past those six there are teams capable of playing well in a one-off game and causing a shock, but it is unlikely they will have the quality to keep that play up and win the entire tournament.

With no clear favourite, a group of teams that have a genuine chance of winning the tournament and a secondary group of teams who have the ability to spring a surprise, the bookmakers World Cup odds are predicting this to be an exciting event. There are 32 teams capable of winning the World Cup as we stand now, but realistically that list can probably be narrowed down to 10. Anyone outside of those 10 would cause a big shock in Russia, although we have seen that before so don’t rule it out.

The Group Stages

The first round of the World Cup sees teams divided into eight groups of four, and the top two from each group will progress into a last 16 round, and that is where the knockout stage will begin.

Hosts Russia has been placed in Group A and they look to have a good chance of progressing. Their main competition is Uruguay, but these two should be strong enough to qualify ahead of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, who both look short of the quality to compete against the big two. Uruguay are the better team, but with home-field advantage, Russia should be slight favourites to win the group.

Group B looks to be another two-horse race with Spain and Portugal set to dominate. The other two teams in this group are Morocco and Iran, and both of them would need to cause huge shocks to qualify here. Spain are fancied to go a long way in this tournament and winning this group will help them by giving them an easier draw in round two, something they will be desperate for.

One of the tournament favourites France are the star attraction in Group C, a group they should win with ease. The final qualification place looks set to be a good battle between Denmark, Peru and Australia, and this should be good to watch. The Danes would be slight favourites to grab it, but don’t underestimate Peru who are a good team on their day.

Group D is a very intriguing group and one that centres on the form of Argentina. They should win the group, but struggled in qualification and have not been at their best recently. Assuming they do win the group, the second spot looks just like it does in Group C, a battle between three. Croatia are favourites to take it, but Nigeria and Iceland are no pushovers and can push them all the way. Should Argentina disappoint for any reason, then this group is wide open.

In Group E, Brazil has been handed a fairly comfortable task of qualifying for the knockout rounds, and they should win this group with ease. Behind them, the two European teams Switzerland and Serbia will battle it out for second place, and Costa Rica looks to be in for a tough set of fixtures, with bottom-place looking highly likely for them.

Germany are the star attraction of Group F, and they should have no problems qualifying for the next stake. The big talking point in this group will be who finishes second behind them, and this looks sure to be a great battle between Mexico and Sweden. South Korea has the ability to cause an upset, but with such a tough group for them, it’s hard to imagine anything other than bottom for them.

Group G is a two horse race between Belgium and England for the top spot, but both should have no problems qualifying for the next stage. Panama and Tunisia round off the group, and those two can battle it out for last place, as they are both likely to lose to the two big teams in the group. England can often start slow at tournaments, so Belgium looks to be favourites to win the group.

Group H looks to be the group that anyone could win. Colombia are favourites to win it, but Poland, Senegal and Japan will all fancy their chances of progressing and any of the four could make it through. The bookmakers favour Colombia and Poland, but both Senegal and Japan have shown enough at previous World Cups to think they can get through. This could be a fascinating group to watch.

Must Watch Group Games

June 15 – Portugal vs Spain, Group B

This is likely to decide who wins Group B and takes place on just the second day of the tournament. This should if all goes to plan, be the first really good game of the tournament.

June 16 – Argentina vs Iceland, Group D

Argentina are a team that many people will be watching in their opening game. On their day they have the ability to win the World Cup, but they really struggled to qualify and it will be interesting to see how they get on in their opener, against an Iceland team who have the ability to frustrate.

June 25 – Russia vs Uruguay, Group A

This game is more than likely going to decide who wins Group A, and could be a key game for the hosts. They are favourites to win the group, but that is only because of their home advantage and will have the weight a nation on their shoulders as they look to make the knockout stages.

June 27 – Mexico vs Sweden, Group F

If you are of the opinion that Germany are going to cruise to victory in Group F, which looks likely, then this game will decide who joins them in the next round. Both teams are good enough to qualify, both will be hoping for qualification, and this game looks set to decide who will make it.

June 28 – England vs Belgium, Group G

England and Belgium are expected to cruise into the knockout round, but in what order will that be? They meet on June 28 in a game that looks certain to decide who will win Group G, potentially facing an easier opponent in the next round, so there is a lot at stake.

Who Will Score the Goals?

Whoever is going to be successful at the World Cup this summer will need to score goals. With the best national teams all heading to Russia, we are going to see many of the stars of world football out there and performing on the biggest stage of them all. Some players relish the challenge of that, while others underperform and struggle to cope with the pressure on their shoulders.

The teams who have a great chance of winning this summer all have key players in attack, and if they score goals then the chances of victory for those teams will certainly be higher. Lionel Messi, Neymar and Timo Werner are the current favourites to take home the Golden Boot. They represent Argentina, Brazil and Germany, three teams who should go a long way. Other stars high up in the betting include Frenchman Antoine Griezmann, Belgian Romelu Lukaku and England’s Harry Kane.

To win the Golden Boot you need to go a long way in the tournament, so it is no surprise to see the main contenders playing for teams that have a chance of winning the World Cup.