The biggest single sporting event is on the horizon. Recent tournaments have lived up to expectations and Russia 2018 promises to be no exception. Going into such tournaments, there are always some teams considered favourites, while some underdogs always emerge to the disappointment of the big fish. This is why the World Cup never disappoints.
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The Bookies Favourites to Lift the 2018 World Cup
- Germany - It is no surprise that the Germans are firm favourites to win the World Cup. Germany became the first team from Europe to win the trophy on South American soil when they humiliated Brazil in the semi-finals, before sealing the glory by going past a Lionel Messi inspired Argentina. Germany showed they still have it when they won las summers Confederation Cup with an experimental young side. Germany are currently top of the FIFA World Standings and will be looking to equal Brazil's record of 5 World Cup trophies.
- Brazil - The 7-1 thrashing they experienced at the hands of the Germans in their home soil still haunts them. However, they seem to have put that mauling behind them through a series of top-notch performances, which ensured they qualified 10 points above the nearest rivals in their group. They will be looking for inspiration from a team of young players such as Neymar, Coutinho, Robert Firmino, William, Gabriel Jesus, Paulinho, and their inspirational and charismatic coach Tite.
- France - Even though they lost the Final of the EURO 2016 on home soil, they seem to be going from strength to strength. The country has a taste of what it means to win the World Cup and they will be looking to add to the trophy they won at home in the 1998 tournament. After their home triumph, France reached the final 8 years later but lost out to Italy via penalties. They managed to reach the quarter-finals in Brazil 2014. Didier Deschamps who was in the squad that won the World Cup will be leading players such as Griezman, Hugo Lloris, Paul Pogba, Lacazatte and Antony Martial in their quest for a second trophy.
Underdogs to Win the 2018 World Cup
- Belgium - Prior to reaching the quarter finals in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the Red Devils had failed to qualify for the previous two tournaments. Their ever best finish in the tournament was fourth place in 1986. The current generation of players such as Eden Hazard, Vincent Company, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertoghen, Thibaut Courtois, Kevin Debruyne and Lukaku among others are considered the Golden Generation of Belgium football. It will be entertaining to see what they will achieve in Russia.
- Croatia - Croatia has been grouped in a tough group containing Argentina, Nigeria and Iceland. They were admitted to FIFA in 1993 but could not make it to the finals held in 1994 in the United States. However, they qualified for France 98, with Davor Suker helping them reach third place after losing to eventual winners France. In this year's tournament, they will be looking up to Real Madrid's Luka Modric, who has three Champions League medals to rekindle the memories of France '98. Should they progress from their tough group, Croatia may cause major upsets.
- Egypt - The Pharaohs got a relatively easy group. Bookmakers expect them to get out of the group stage, with the knockout likely to test their resolve in going further in the tournament. With Liverpool's Mo Salah in their ranks, the Egyptians will not fear anyone and they may even fancy flooring a huge giant to make a point.
The Bookmakers Favourites for the Golden Ball Award
- Neymar - The Brazilian forward recently made a world record £200m million to PSG and has been averaging a goal and assist in every game he plays. If he can recover from the recent injury he suffered, then he will be one of the firm favourites for the Golden Ball. Legend Pele has even tipped him for the Ballon d'Or in the not so distant future.
- Lionel Messi - Messi never seizes to amaze and he will be among the favourites for this award. While Messi has won all the accolades there are to be won with his club Barcelona, he has not managed to replicate this with his national teammates. This may provide the stage where he has the chance to truly become an Argentina great and even eclipse Maradona.
- Cristiano Ronaldo - The Portuguese captain has been voted the best player in the world five times, is the most capped player in his country and is also their record goal scorer. He carried them to European glory in 2016, and his countrymen will be looking up to him to enable them to achieve more glory on the World Stage in Russia.