DISCLAIMER: ODDS AND ARTICLE UPDATED 03/06/2018, 17:41.
Germany and Brazil are the joint favourites to claim the trophy in the World Cup odds but which behemoth of international football deserves the hype? Our tipster Gareth Freeman offers his thoughts.
South American powerhouse Brazil have won the biggest prize in international football five times, more than any other nation, and will always be fancied whenever the tournament rolls around.
However, Brazil haven’t taken the title or reached a final since 2002 and suffered a 7-1 humbling at the hands of Germany in the semi-finals as the host nation four years ago.
The current Selecao squad arguably looks stronger than it did in 2014 and, as per, they have some incredible talent in the attacking areas.
Neymar no longer appears to be an injury risk and the Paris Saint-Germain forward will be assisted by the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Douglas Costa – among others – in Russia.
Manchester City’s Fernandinho and Barcelona man Paulinho add strength in midfield and will support the Brazil defence, which looks to be the weakest area of coach Tite’s travelling party.
Tite has excellent options in the wide areas at the back but I’m not sure centre-halves Thiago Silva, Miranda and Pedro Geromel are at the same level as those in their positions in the Spain, Germany, France and Argentina squads.
However, Tite does have Roma’s Alisson in goal and he is clearly up there with the world’s best keepers so at the very least their final line of defence is strong.
The fact the tournament is being played in Russia could be a disadvantage to a South American nation. To ease those concerns the majority of the Brazil squad is European based and they have two players, Fred and Taison, who play their club football in Ukraine.
Aside from Spain in 2010 and Germany in 2014, Brazil are the only nation to have won a World Cup outside of their continent so perhaps geographical issues aren’t such a worry when it comes to World Cup betting on Brazil.
Four-time winners Germany will attempt to be the first team since Brazil in 1962 to successfully defend the trophy and they should head to Russia in confident mood.
Joachim Low’s men slipped to a surprise 2-1 loss against Austria in a friendly on Saturday but I wouldn’t read too much into that, as they have a habit of moving up a gear or two when a major tournament begins.
Their current squad actually looks stronger than their 23-man party from four years ago if a little less experienced. In Timo Werner of RB Leipzig they have a proven striker who heads to Russia in excellent form, while Low included a then 36-year-old Miroslav Klose in his 2014 squad due to a lack of other options.
Manuel Neuer made an appearance against Austria after a long spell on the sidelines and with Joshua Kimmich, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Jonas Hector the likely back four the Germans have what on paper should be considered the strongest defence in Russia.
Low has a good mix of youth and experience with the likes of Julian Brandt, Leroy Sane and Julian Draxler joining older heads such as Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller in the squad.
Unlike Brazil, it is hard to see any areas of weakness in the German squad and the holders are probably the team who should be the out-and-out favourites in the World Cup odds.
Of course, Brazil have a real chance of taking the title but Germany look a more balanced side and if you are planning to go for a favourite in your World Cup betting Low’s men could well be the smart call.
There is a chance that the two heavyweights could meet in the round of 16 but that would require one not winning their group - which is almost unthinkable.
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