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Brazil and other favourites gear up for World Cup title challenge

6:26 PM IST 08/06/18
Neymar Roberto Firmino Brazil
Defending champions Germany, in addition to France and Spain, looking to lift the trophy in Moscow

We are now just a few short days away. On 14 June, the 2018 FIFA World Cup will kick off in Moscow, when Russia and Saudi Arabia play the opening game. But while neither of those two nations are being linked with actually winning the tournament , there are several sides with their eyes on the prize.

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Where should I be betting?

One country that seem to have come from absolutely nowhere to b considered one of the favourites for the World Cup is Brazil. The South American giants may well be five-time champions, but the last three or four years have not been kind to the seleção.

Under Tite, however, Brazil have rediscovered their finest form, having won 16 of their last 20 games with a bold and efficient brand of football. They have been drawn in a tough group, but are the favourites to win the World Cup with a price of 5.00, according to the Oddsshark website.

However, if they are to lift the trophy they may well have to get past Germany, the side who thrashed Brazil 7-1 in the semi-final four years ago. And having won the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, last year Germany sent a young squad to the Confederations Cup last year and won that as well – their trajectory is very much pointed upwards, and the fact that Joachim Low can leave Leroy Sane out  if his 23-man squad points to his strength in depth.

The defending champions are priced at 5.50 to win a second successive crown, and their young squad looks more than ready to challenge the established forces of the global game. Low looks to have a perfect blend of youth and experience, but must admit that if his side is to go all the way then his experienced heads may well have to carry the team at times.

With an average age of 27 years and 51 days, this is the oldest squad Low has ever picked as German manager. There must be some doubts about whether their energy levels will be sufficient to be able to get past the likes of Brazil and France in the latter stages of the competition.

One team looking for redemption at this tournament will be Spain. Having won the event in 2010, the side crashed out at the group stage four years later, suffering a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Holland before losing 2-0 to Chile at the Maracanã.

However, the side look in extremely good shape going into the 2018 edition of the competition. This side might not be quite as strong as the one that won three successive competitions between 2008 and 2012, but they are now without defeat since the quarter-finals at Euro 2016.

Spain are priced at 7.00 to win their second World Cup in three attempts, and they can still count on the likes of David Silva and Andres Iniesta as the creative focal point of the side. The biggest group game for the Spanish will undoubtedly come against Portugal.

With Morocco and Iran also in the group, it should be a relatively straightforward task for La Furia Rioja to reach the knock-out stages of the competition. The Spanish are priced at 1.062 to qualify from Group B, just 1.50 to win the group and a long 10.00 to fall at the first stage for the second World Cup in succession.

The French, for their part, look to be one of the talented sides at this World Cup, on paper at least. Didier Deschamps has a wealth of talent at his disposal, and if he can channel his players into a cohesive unit then the 1998 World Cup winners could well go all the way again.

Their squad, which boasts the likes of Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann, is absolutely bursting with natural skill. There are players with Champions League experience as well as those who have won top domestic honours – a lack of experience will not be an excuse for the French.

The Blues are priced at 7.50 to lift the trophy, and may well be worth backing at that price. The core players have now spent two or three years playing together, and that could be of huge benefit come crunch time.

Outright odds to win the World Cup: Brazil (5.00), Germany (5.50), Spain (7.00), France (7.50), Argentina (10.00), Belgium (12.00)