The 2018 FIFA World Cup (June 14th – July 15th) is just under a year away, and with the Confederations Cup wrapped up, now is a great time to preview the early odds-on favorites. As it stands, there are only three nations guaranteed a spot — hosts Russia, Iran, and Brazil. But it would be a huge upset if any of our favorites below failed to reach the group stages.
We’re starting to get a clearer picture of what the starting line-ups will look like, so without further ado, let’s preview the heavy hitters.
Here are the odds!
After winning the Confederations Cup with what could easily be considered their B or C-team, Germany is the clear favorite for the upcoming World Cup. The youthful German side, which featured players like Marc-André ter Stegen, Joshua Kimmich, and Julian Draxler, proved that even without their World Cup stars they’re still a world-class side.
Head Coach Joachim Löw has around fifty German players who would make the starting line-up in almost any other country. He’ll have to whittle that down to 23, which means cutting a lot of world-class players. It’s an enviable problem to have.
Brazil’s unforgettable semi-final loss to Germany on home soil last World Cup was one of the most bizarre spectacles in sporting history. After that, they failed to advance past the group stage at the Copa America Centenario.
Brazil is looking to turn over a new leaf in 2018, and they’ve already taken the first step. They sent manager Dunga packing and recruited former Corinthians coach Tite to guide the team. It’s a good start, and with the line-up they have, they should be expected to do quite well.
A 5-1 loss to the Netherlands and a 2-0 loss to Chile saw the Spanish team eliminated in the group stage of the 2014 World Cup. The defending champions were hesitant to make changes to their 2010 team, and they paid the price with an aging squad.
While the Spanish national team still has a few key players entering retirement age, they also have some fresh blood. There’s David de Gea, 25, taking over from Iker Casillas between the sticks; Koke and Isco, both 25, adding youth to the aging midfield; and Álvaro Morata, 24, leading the charge up front.
With so many players rising through the ranks, there’s a lot to be hopeful about when it comes to French football. Players like Ousmane Dembélé, 20, and Kylian Mbappé, 18, are only starting their careers and already they’re among the most sought-after players in the world.
The squad is full of players who were too young to make an impact in 2014 but will be ready come 2018. The question is, will the inexperienced squad be able to handle the pressure?
Argentina’s qualifying campaign has been a disaster. They’ve lost to Paraguay, Brazil, and even Bolivia, leaving the Argentinians below the qualifying cut-off. It’s still early on, though. And it’s unlikely that the 2014 runners-up will fail to qualify for a spot.
The Argentinian squad doesn’t have a lot of depth in defense or midfield, but they boast one of the most stacked front lines in world football. There’s the two young Serie A stars, Mauro Icardi and Paulo Dybala, the ageless Gonzalo Higuaín, Sergio Agüero, and of course, Lionel Messi.
By Marcello Casal Jr/Agência Brasil () [CC BY 3.0 br (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/br/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons
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