Since it was first contested in 1930, the World Cup has captured the imagination of football fans around the world, and this summer the tournament will be hosted by Russia. It is the first time that the competition has been held in Eastern Europe and the first time that it has been staged in Europe since the 2006 edition in Germany.
Speaking of Germany, it is Joachim Löw’s side that go into the competition as favorites. The reigning World Cup champions have been heavily backed by football punters, and according to the odds offered by online sportsbooks – check out Stakers.com – the Germans have the best chance this summer.
It isn’t a surprise to see them heavily fancied to lift the famous gold trophy once again. Though a number of German stars such as Bastian Schweinsteiger, Per Mertesacker, Miroslav Klose, and Philipp Lahm have retired, the conveyor belt of German talent continues to rumble along, and younger players such as Joshua Kimmich, Timo Werner, Leroy Sané, and Niklas Süle are ready to take their place in the senior squad. Germany won all of their qualifying games, scored 43 goals in the process, and also managed to win last summer’s Confederations Cup, despite fielding a largely second-string team.
Germany’s main opposition is likely to come from Brazil, France, and Spain. With a new manager, Brazil are looking more like the freewheeling creative force of old, and Tite has done a good job of steering his team through a tough qualification campaign in style. Neymar, Gabriel Jesus, and Coutinho are a formidable strike force, and with Marcelo and Dani Alves in top form, Brazil look well-placed to mount a serious World Cup challenge.
France knocked Germany out of Euro 2016 and will be confident of matching the world champions. Didier Deschamps has a settled team blessed with speed, athleticism, and technique, and they have the ability to blow away any team they come up against. Their only weakness is an occasional inability to break down stubborn defensive opponents, but against the top nations in the world, they are more than capable of holding their own.
The other main European hopefuls, Spain, have managed to keep their established stars together and have brought through a host of young and improving players. Their patient, possession-based style is ideally suited to grinding out results against lesser opponents, and they have enough experience in their ranks to cope with the pressure of the World Cup.
Outside the favorite nations, European champions Portugal should not be written off, and the same applies to Uruguay, who will be tough opponents whoever they meet. It will be interesting to see whether Roberto Martínez will finally be able to get the best out of the abundance of talent in the Belgian squad, and Gareth Southgate’s young England team might just surprise a few pundits in Russia. Whatever happens this summer, the latest edition of the greatest football tournament in the world promises to be a hard-fought and spectacular six weeks of top-class football action.
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