The football World Cup 2018 starts in less than a month so the research has begun and where better to start than trying to find a bit of value in the outright markets. In Euro 2016 we tipped the top scorer Antoine Griezmann and were a bit unlucky not to find the winner too with Portugal somehow managing to beat our selection France after extra time in the final.
A list of the most recent winners and runners up (in brackets) gives us a fair clue as to where we should be looking for the winner and I don’t see any point in looking for a long priced team to cause a big shock.
2014 – Germany (Argentina)
2010 – Spain (Holland)
2006 – Italy (France)
2002 – Brazil (Germany)
1998 – France (Brazil)
1994 – Brazil (Italy)
1990 – Germany (Argentina)
Neither Italy nor Holland qualified for the World Cup this time around which leaves five teams from that list above: Brazil, Argentina, Germany, France and Spain and it comes as no surprise to see them fill the first five spots in the betting with Germany and Brazil joint favourites at $5.50, France and Spain at $7 and Argentina at $10.
So who wins it?
I’m against Argentina who only just scraped through to the tournament via a playoff and although it would be wrong to call them a one man team, it wouldn’t be too far off the mark. France don’t appeal much either – they should have won Euro 2016 and this is a tougher task.
Germany and Brazil both have very strong claims but if I was forced to have a bet – and at this stage i’m not having one – it would be on Spain at $8 with Unibet.
Spain qualified with ease from their group (which included Italy) scoring 36 times and conceding just three on their way to nine wins and one loss from their 10 matches. In their four friendlies since qualification they have won two and drawn two including a 6-1 thrashing of Argentina. They scored 15 and conceded 5 in the four matches.
The Spanish squad looks as strong as any, starting with the man most observers rate as the best goalkeeper in the world, David de Gea. The importance of a great goal keeper cannot be under estimated, especially in big tournaments and that Spain have De Gea is a big positive.
Spain will have an abundance of experience all over the park with Ramos and Pique at centre back and Busquets and Iniesta backed up by David Silva in the midfield. Up front I think they’ll start with Diego Costa but they could go with any combination of Costa, Aspas, Asensio or Rodrigo. Whatever combination they plump for they’ll have plenty of goals in them with Real Madrid’s midfielder Isco notching a hat-trick in their friendly win over Argentina and finishing joint top scorer in qualifying along with Costa.