By far the most popular bet on the World Cup is the question of who will win the tournament. This question moves the whole world for a few weeks and there are many more realistic answer options than if you were to bet on the next Bundesliga champion.
That’s why we want to briefly introduce you to the most important teams and assess their chances of winning the title. Of course, we won’t leave out the secret favorites either.
There are three absolute top favorites at the bookies: the reigning world champions from France, the record world champions Brazil and the always narrowly failing England.
As defending champions, the French national team enters the World Cup race as one of the top favorites. The squad is certainly the strongest of all participants in terms of quality. Not only do they have superstars like Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann, but they are also incredibly well-positioned across the board. A squad without a weak spot with a market value of almost one billion euros.
At the 2021 European Championships, however, the reigning world champions disappointed and had to return home after losing to Switzerland in the round of 16. This is certainly one reason why bettors and bookmakers do not have the French on their books as clear tournament favorites.
But you should consider how France performed in the preliminary round of the European Championship. And how would the tournament have turned out if France had not carelessly given away the game against Switzerland, which they had almost won. Perhaps it is precisely such bitter experiences that will help players like Kylian Mbappe, N’Golo Kanté and Raphael Varane mature once again. In any case, the chances are very good that France will go far in Qatar.
Conclusion: our top favorite
When you talk about top favorites at a World Cup, the name Brazil comes up as if by reflex. The Selecao is always a contender for the title. As bettors, we naturally ask ourselves: Is this favorite position justified? Or does the record world champion have a comparatively weak selection this time.
The bookmakers believe in the South Americans. Alongside France and England, they are one of the top favorites. And that is certainly not only due to their glorious history. Brazil has a top-class squad. With top performers from top clubs such as Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus, Casemiro, Fabinho and Marquinhos, the Selecao has numerous experienced top players. With Alisson Becker, the Selecao also has a contender for the best goalkeeper of the World Cup in its ranks. The main hope is, of course, Neymar. The superstar is expected to lead the team to victory in the final exactly 20 years after the last title.
Despite all the praise for Brazil, we still have to remember that they were beaten by Argentina in the last Copa. However, the Selecao qualified for the World Cup without any trouble and as the best South American team. The Brazilians are also second in the FIFA world rankings.
Conclusion: Team with title chances
English soccer fans have been eagerly awaiting their second World Cup title since 1966. For many years, the English had the stigma of being the losing team. For many, it was unthinkable that the English, of all people, would win a title. It was always clear that they would fail in a penalty shootout, due to a goalkeeper error or team antics.
This time everything is different. Under coach Gareth Southgate, faith in the Three Lions has returned. With a fourth-place finish at the 2018 World Cup and a final defeat at EURO 2020, the team aroused euphoria on the island and is suddenly one of the top favorites.
The Three Lions’ run continued after the European Championship. The English not only got through qualifying effortlessly, but also with convincing performances. Even players who were in a slump of form at their clubs played well for the national team.
When the national team becomes a haven for such an exquisite selection of exceptional players, many things are possible. The most valuable squad of the tournament is not weak in any single position. The goalkeeper position is the most likely to be a minor shortcoming. Here, at least, England has remained true to itself. But Jason Pickford is, even if unspectacular, a very reliable and safe backstop.
All the players in England’s World Cup squad are under contract with top European clubs and still have their prime soccer age ahead of them. Raheem Sterling, Trent-Alexander Arnold, Jude Bellingham, Mason Mount and Jadon Sancho are particularly worthy of mention here. Perhaps this inexperience of the Three Lions is the team’s only small weakness. The veterans around Kane, Henderson and Maguire must counteract this and give the team balance in difficult moments.
Conclusion: Lower title chances than the bookmakers suggest
Under Roberto Mancini, Italy enchanted us with inspiring attacking soccer and an exuberant team spirit full of passion and dedication. They were an absolutely deserved title winner and, from many points of view, the best team of the tournament.
In the World Cup qualifiers, however, the Italians showed a completely different face. With a final 0-0 draw against Northern Ireland, the Squadra Azzurra missed out on winning the group. Placed behind Switzerland, Mancini’s team will have to make the play-offs. Many Tifosi feel reminded of the missed 2018 World Cup in Russia and the high spirits are beginning to evaporate.
If the team succeeds in qualifying, the most important question will probably be how the central defense is doing. During the European Championship, the Italians were carried by the best defense of the tournament. Behind the outstanding Bonucci and Chiellini stood Donnarumma. In 2021, that was a bulwark and, despite all the offensive enthusiasm, the real showpiece of the Squadra Azzurra. The question of whether the aging center backs at 38 and 35 can still play an entire tournament at the top level in high temperatures is of paramount importance.
Of course, you can’t underestimate offensive players like Ciro Immobile, Federico Chiesa, Nicolo Barella, Lorenzo Insigne or Jorginho.
Italy seems unpredictable and is probably the riskiest betting tip among the favorites.
Conclusion: Italy will probably not be able to repeat the wonderful European Championship
The Löw era ended with two disappointing tournament results. A first-round exit as defending champions in Russia and a knockout in the round of 16 at Euro 2020. Nevertheless, bookmakers and bettors count the Germans among the favorites in Qatar. This is due not least to the change of coach. Flick has managed to create a spirit of optimism. Through a new tactical orientation and the integration of many new players.
In addition to Flick, who appears to be exactly the right coach, there are other reasons to bet on an upturn in the DFB eleven. The team has matured and many regulars are now in their prime soccer age. In addition, Flick can rely on a strong Bayern block with Neuer, Süle, Goretzka, Kimmich, Gnabry, Sane, Musiala and Müller. Traditionally, the national team is always at its strongest when it can fall back on a well-rehearsed team framework.
Of course, there are also reasons not to bet on the DFB eleven. There is an imbalance within the team. While they are overstaffed with top players in defensive midfield, they lack players of international caliber at the full-back positions and in the center of attack. In central defense, too, the DFB is not as strong as it has been for decades.
Title chances: only favorite this time, not top favorite
The Albiceleste has put an exclamation mark on its title. For the first time since 1993, they won a title: the Copa America 2021. At the same time, it was the first title that Lionel Messi was able to win with the national team. At the World Cup, the superstar will already be 35 years old. The last chance of the little flea to win the World Cup and finally make himself immortal. Without question, a lot will depend on his form and also fitness. In any case, the World Championship title project is unlikely to fail due to his motivation.
But the 2014 World Cup runner-up has even more to offer than Messi – with Paulo Dybala, Lautaro Martinez, Sergio Agüero, Angel di Maria and Rodrigo de Paul, the offense of the Argentine national team is particularly impressive. Sound names, but they can’t drown out the fact that the defense is far worse off and the squad lacks some depth. Only if the first team remains injury-free can the Albiceleste be trusted to win the title.
Conclusion: Argentina can beat any team, but only on very good days
It seems as if the change from the golden generation to a new powerful team has been successful. The Spanish, who dominated between 2008 and 2012, never made it further than the round of 16 at the 2014, 2016 and 2018 tournaments. Under Luis Enrique, the turnaround seems to be succeeding. The new coach led the Furja Roja to the semifinals at the European Championship. The Spaniards are back.
And that is not surprising given the Spanish squad. In addition to experienced players such as David de Gea, Jordi Alba, Dani Carvajal, Sergio Busquets, and Thiago, the Spanish national team features numerous up-and-coming talents. Of course, it remains to be seen whether Pedri, Rodri, Ferran Torres and Ansu Fati, who is only 17 years old, can fulfill the hopes placed in them.
Despite this excellent mix, the Spanish squad also has a weakness. Similar to the Germans, they lack a real top scorer. Even at the European Championship, Morata couldn’t quite fill this role.
Conclusion: Underestimated top team with high title chances
Most bettors have surely tucked Belgium away in a drawer labeled “secret favorite that never wins.” End round after end round, the golden generation of Belgians was billed as title contenders. However, it was never quite enough. The image of a team without a winning mentality gradually grew up around this troupe of high-flyers.
And yet, we bettors should take another look at the pigeonhole Belgium is in. The team still leads the FIFA world rankings and has been one of the strongest teams in terms of play at all recent tournaments. Often, the Belgians failed unluckily. So has the golden generation’s time really come to an end in 2022? After all, they have a contender for the best player of the tournament in Kevin de Bruyne and other illustrious names in Eden Hazard, Yannick Carrasco and Romelu Lukaku.
With all these top stars, the problem is likely to lie in a defense that is now outdated. There is a lack of class here and the question remains whether players like Vertonghen, Meunier or Witsel can cope with an entire tournament under extreme temperatures.
Conclusion: This time really only secret favorite
The Netherlands is probably the most underestimated team by bookmakers and bettors. They have a strong squad in all parts of the team and an experienced coach in Louis van Gaal, who has the ability to put his stamp on a team and has mastered every tactical finesse.
Even though Oranje disappointed at the last EURO and were eliminated by the Czech Republic in the round of 16, a squad with stars like captain Virgil van Dijk, Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt, Stefan de Vrij, Donyell Malen, Memphis Depay, and Georginio Wijnaldum must be taken into account. The Dutch squad’s weakness is certainly its depth. The second suit is significantly weaker than the regular lineup. The Elftal’s top players will have to stay fit to win the title.
Conclusion: this team deserves better odds
For years, Portugal was a one-man show. However, that has since changed. Fernando Santos’ team is more than just Cristiano Ronaldo. In addition to the outsized legend CR7, the Portuguese squad features many top players who are top performers at top European clubs: Ruben Dias and Bernardo Silva (Machester City), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Nuno Mendes (PSG), Diogo Jota (Liverpool) and Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid). It is surprising for many, but Portugal has the squad with the fourth highest market value of all participants. This shows how high the individual class of the Portuguese is.
In addition, Portugal has two leaders who are beyond reproach. Cristiano Ronaldo is known for his ambition, discipline and training zeal. Attributes that always transfer to his teammates. Fernando Santos has been head coach for eight years and has been an unassailable authority at least since his European Championship triumph.
If you then consider that the aging Cristiano is still so good that he was the top scorer at the 2021 European Championship, a bet on the secret favorite with attractive odds becomes very tempting indeed.
But before you bet on Portugal, you should keep in mind that the team is not yet qualified for the World Cup. They still have to win through in the play-offs. And those will be two really tough games. First, Portugal has to beat Turkey. After that, European champion Italy will most likely be waiting. Between Portugal and the World Cup title, there are two really tough tasks.
Conclusion: Anything is possible if the qualifiers succeed
The ten World Cup favorites with the highest market value:
- England: €1.23 billion
- France: € 978.80 million
- Brazil: € 870.50 million
- Portugal: € 775.00 million
- Argentina: € 747.50 million
- Spain: €728.00 million
- Netherlands: €668.00 million
- Italy: €663.50 million
- Germany: € 660.00 million
- Belgium: € 605.50 million