Thu, Mar 29, 9:59am by Staff Writer
International sides around the world have begun fine tuning their squads in preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. This international break gave coaches their penultimate chance to get their teams together with only two more games in June prior to the World Cup for the majority of countries.
Germany remain favourites to lift the World Cup again, having won the tournament in 2014. They are priced at $5.50 but saw their undefeated run of 23 matches brought to an end as they lost to Brazil. The loss coupled with the draw to Spain earlier in the week by no means put’s them in panic stations as they continue to test themselves against the world’s best ahead of the World Cup.
For Brazil, the win over Germany was a slither of revenge for the humiliating 7-1 defeat they suffered at their own World Cup in 2014. Gabriel Jesus’ strike salvaged a little pride for the Brazilians who stand at $6 to win the World Cup. Brazil are always a threat and tested themselves in the host nation, Russia, with a comfortable 3-0 win in Moscow in their first game of the break.
Despite letting a two-goal lead slip in a shock loss to Colombia, France have signalled their intent for the World Cup. That loss was followed up with a comfortable win over Russia 3-1, which included a sensational free kick from Paul Pogba. The talent throughout the French squad means that they are capable of winning the World Cup at $6.50.
Spain signalled their intent with a demolition of 2014 World Cup finalist, Argentina. They ran riot 6-1 as Isco scored a hattrick. They appear to be coming into form at the right time with this win following on from an impressive draw against Germany. At $7 they are worthy contenders to lift the trophy they last won in 2010.
Without Lionel Messi, Argentina struggle to impose themselves on the game against Spain. Indeed, they would have missed out on qualification for the World Cup had Messi not been their saviour in the latter stages of qualifying games. Priced at $9, if Messi can keep fit and carrying his national side then they could be a threat once the tournament reaches the knockout stages.
Belgium continue to go quietly about their business as their squad continues to improve. With a plethora of EPL and major European league experienced talent in the group, Belgium could have a serious run at the World Cup. The likes of Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku have the capability of causing a few surprises priced at $11.
Outside of those six nations, there are few who can truly cause an upset. England ($17) have underperformed at every tournament since winning the World Cup in 1966. Whilst Portugal ($21) have failed to match the promise that they held, although on the back of the Euro 2016 win they will believe they can produce a fairy-tale for Cristiano Ronaldo. Colombia ($31) possess plenty of world class talent in the likes of Falcao and James Rodriquez and would point to their win over France if that had not been followed up by a draw with Australia ($276).
World Cup 2018 Winner – Sportsbet
Costa Rica $426
South Korea $501
Saudi Arabia $501
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