Newsflash: there are just 50 days until the 2018 World Cup gets underway. Russia, hosting this summer’s competition, will take on Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow in the curtain-raiser, and plenty of fans will be there to cheer Stanislav Cherchesov’s men on. Group A is certainly there for the taking and Russia will be confident of advancing to the last-16.
However, it is difficult to envision any of the four Group A sides challenging for World Cup glory this year. We’ve studied the schedule and potential knockout stages and have found four leading contenders for the Jules Rimet Trophy this summer. Without further ado, here are our top four nations to follow at the 2018 World Cup.
Didier Deschamps is under pressure to deliver; France fell short at the final hurdle of the 2016 European Championships and Les Bleus are expected to challenge prominently at the World Cup this year. Avenging that home soil defeat to Portugal is an absolute must; his job as head coach is under threat – ESPN believes they have a few issues to fix before the tournament gets underway.
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On paper, France boasts the most talented squad in the competition. Football isn’t won on paper, of course, but Deschamps will be confident of leading his team to a second World Cup crown. As of April 25th, France is 13/2 with Bet Way to go on and lift the Jules Rimet Trophy and there will be lots of tipsters backing Deschamps’ men in the coming months.
The likes of Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, and Kylian Mbappe will be central to France’s chances but Hugo Lloris will need to be at his brilliant best at the other end of the pitch as well. Defensively, France can be found wanting at times and Les Bleus will need to shore up against the stronger nations.
Runners up in 2014, Argentina will be looking to go one better this summer. It looked like Jorge Sampaoli’s men were going to miss out on qualification for the competition but the magical Lionel Messi notched a hat-trick against Ecuador to secure their spot in Russia. If the Barcelona star is at his brilliant best, Argentina could go all the way.
With the likes of Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero and Paulo Dybala, Argentina is blessed with the strongest attacking unit in world football. And that’s before we even touch on Angel di Maria and Angel Correa. Outscoring their opponents might be Argentina’s best bet in Russia; they could be involved in a few high-scoring encounters.
Like France, Argentina isn’t quite as assured defensively though and Sampaoli will be wary of a potential collapse. The two-time World Cup winners will need to improve if they are to lift the Jules Rimet Trophy for a third time on July 15th.
Huge expectation usually surrounds England at major tournaments but there is a different feel to the Three Lions this summer. With most fans expecting England to crash out of the group stages, Gareth Southgate’s men could exceed expectations. Yes, you did read that right; England could perform well this summer – they were solid enough against Italy earlier this year.
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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s injury will hurt England in central midfield. The Three Lions are generally weak in that area of the pitch and Southgate will be hoping that the Liverpool man returns before the end of the campaign. If The Ox is absent, the onus will be on Eric Dier to provide support alongside Jordan Henderson.
In some ways, it doesn’t really matter whether England finish first or second in Group G. A clash with Poland awaits if the 1966 winners finish behind Belgium but England won’t be too worried about that. As a bare minimum, Southgate’s side should be aiming for the quarter-finals.
There are no ‘easy routes’ in the World Cup but Brazil could have a favorable set of fixtures if everything goes to plan. Finishing at the top of Group E is vital as it means they will avoid 2014 winners Germany in the last-16; instead, they will face South Korea, Sweden, or Mexico. Neymar and in-form Chelsea star Willian can fire Brazil to the latter stages of the tournament.
From there, a potential quarter-final clash with Belgium or England awaits. Tite’s men will be quietly confident of beating either nation and with good reason. Belgium has the talent to go close but always seems to struggle on the big stage whilst England’s record at major tournaments is shoddy at best.
On paper, Brazil has the strength in depth to win a sixth World Cup crown and it is difficult to back against them on current form. A lot has changed since that embarrassing 7-1 defeat to Germany in 2014 and plenty of punters will be tipping Brazil to lift the Jules Rimet Trophy on July 15th.
The 2018 edition of the World Cup gets underway on June 14. You can find some of the best football tipsters at Tipster Reviews in order to make the most from your World Cup betting.