World Cup 2018 Odds for Favorites, Sleepers and Every Squad

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJune 12, 2018

Argentina's former football player Jorge Valdano displays the FIFA World Cup trophy upon arrival at Miguel Hidalgo International Airport in Guadalajara, Jalisco State, Mexico, on April 9, 2018 as part of the FIFA World Cup trophy tour.
The FIFA World Cup trophy tour touches 91 cities in 51 countries during a three-month period before the start of the World Cup in Russia. / AFP PHOTO / Ulises RUIZ        (Photo credit should read ULISES RUIZ/AFP/Getty Images)
ULISES RUIZ/Getty Images

Germany are favourites to retain their crown at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, which kicks off on Thursday before the titleholders open their tournament against Group F rivals Mexico on Sunday.

Joachim Low's men beat Argentina to the title in 2014, and La Albiceleste are fourth favourites as Lionel Messi enters what is likely to be his last chance at clinching the ultimate prize in football.

Meanwhile, Brazil are alongside Germany as joint-favourites and are hoping to avenge their semi-final humiliation from four years ago, when they lost 7-1 to the eventual winners.

A tournament host hasn't won the World Cup since France were triumphant in 1998, posing bad omens for Russia, while Group G contenders Belgium will be considered a dark horse to keep an eye on.

OddsShark provided a breakdown of odds on some of the leading 2018 World Cup favourites, along with some of the long shots in the field:

Visit OddsShark.com for 2018 World Cup odds in full.

           

2018 World Cup Groups 

  • Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
  • Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran
  • Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
  • Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
  • Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
  • Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea 
  • Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England
  • Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan

        

Favourites and Sleeper Stakes

Much of the World Cup's title focus has been pinned on Germany and Brazil in preparation for Russia, with the 2014 semi-finalists touted for a potential rematch in the final at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

But Germany are attempting to win back-to-back World Cups, a feat managed only twice in 20 tournaments, and Didier Deschamps' France side may have something to say about who the best team in Europe is.

Though Les Bleus are some way off Germany in the overall stakes, the odds aren't as one-sided:

Deschamps' side are blossoming at the right time and were gifted arguably the easiest draw of any top-seeded team. They should breeze past Group C opponents Denmark, Australia and Peru, and it bodes well that the most difficult-looking of that trio, the Danes, are last in their fixture list.

That's without mentioning the depth of talent in the French ranks at present, and Fox Sports presenter Daniel Garb highlighted some notable omissions:

The road to the final won't be an easy one for Germany, but it will be far more treacherous if they fail to top Group F.

Sweden and South Korea have their charms but are perhaps not the same threat as Mexico, who have developed well under manager Juan Carlos Osorio.

Despite this, FiveThirtyEight pointed to evidence Low's men should command their group with relative comfort:

El Tri have lost three of their last 14 matches but only one has come in their last five. Recent results include a 3-3 draw against Belgium and a 1-0 win over Poland.

Mexico have also kept clean sheets in three of their last four and have a squad that is based around experience, which should work to their advantage in a tournament such as this.

As for those lurking contenders hoping to mimic Costa Rica's quarter-final run of four years ago or South Korea's against-the-odds quest to the semis in 2002, Senegal could pack the potential to stage a surprise.

With Poland, Colombia and Japan also in its ranks, Group G has no overwhelming favourite, and Senegal's squad isn't without its stars:

Sadio Mane and Kalidou Koulibaly are the world-class stars in attack and defence, respectively, but the Lions of Teranga also have a rock-steady midfield corps with the likes of Idrissa Gueye, Cheikhou Kouyate and Alfred Ndiaye.

Throw in the attacking flair of players such as Keita Balde Diao, M'Baye Niang and Moussa Sow, and both Poland and Colombia could find genuine competition for the top spot. Senegal are 150-1 to win the entire competition.

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