2018 World Cup betting guide: Brazil favourites to win a sixth title
By Tim Clement
Last Updated: 13/06/18 4:53pm
Sky Bet provide us with a guide on who is expected to star at the 2018 World Cup.
The odds were set years ahead of this summer's showpiece and have since been moulded by punters staking on a whole host of markets, from who will lift the trophy to how many headed goals will be scored in Russia.
Here's a look at how the key markets are shaping up ahead of Thursday's kick-off...
Brazil arrive as 4/1 favourites, having attracted the majority of support from punters. Hearts were broken on home turf four years ago, but Neymar returns with a strong supporting cast, with the maturing figures of Gabriel Jesus, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino adding additional firepower. Meanwhile, David Luiz's omission and Ederson's struggle for a starting spot are examples of how their defensive structure has improved.
Reigning champions Germany follow in the betting, but have struggled to inspire punters as inexperienced Timo Werner leads the line, while Leroy Sane's absence has baffled many. Spain had also been 5/1 shots, however, have drifted out to 13/2 following Julen Lopetegui's departure, in turn seeing France (6/1) leapfrog them. Argentina (9/1), Belgium (10/1) are also shorter odds than England at 16/1.
Despite their Euro 2016 win, Portugal are a hefty 25/1 as punters question the ability of their ageing side to upset the odds again. Uruguay have been far more popular at the same price, with the combination of their Atletico Madrid based centre-backs, Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez and world-class strikers Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. Peru (200/1) and Iran (2,000/1) have also proved popular at hefty odds, but it is Panama who are Sky Bet's second-biggest liabilities as punters back them to repeat Leicester's feat of defying odds of 5,000/1.
The bookmakers' biggest liability? You guessed it, England. Odds of 16/1 has proved popular enough to lure punters in, with a price of 1/9 suggesting they should have enough to make it out of Group G. Gareth Southgate's men are marginal outsiders at 6/5 to beat Belgium to top spot, 8/11 to reach the quarter-finals, but are then 11/4 to make the final four and 13/2 to reach the final.
The Golden Boot market is wide open to say the least, with Lionel Messi and Neymar the two favourites at 10/1 apiece. Antoine Griezmann is Sky Bet's biggest liability at 12/1, followed by Mohamed Salah at 40/1 despite doubts over his fitness and Egypt's chances of even making it past the group stages. Gabriel Jesus, Harry Kane and Timo Werner all follow at 14/1 apiece, while Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku are both 16/1, although it is the current Manchester United man who is proving more popular of the pair.
While the Golden Boot is handed to the highest scoring player, which is then decided by most assist if tied, the Golden Ball is less clear-cut as it is voted for by the "Technical Study Group of FIFA". Similar to the Golden Boot market, Lionel Messi and Neymar are 8/1 favourites, although the two awards haven't been won by one player at a tournament since the Golden Ball's inception in 1982, when Paolo Rossi cleaned up after firing Italy to success. Andres Iniesta (33/1) is Sky Bet's biggest liability as punters clearly expect sentiment to be factored into the process.
The Golden Glove is awarded by the same process and differs only slightly to the World Cup winner outright in terms of odds. Germany's Manuel Neuer heads the market at 7/2, followed by Spain's David De Gea (4/1) and Brazil's Alisson (9/2). Jordan Pickford's price is the same as England's outright odds at 16/1, while Fernando Muslera looks a tempting 33/1 given his abundance of experience, Uruguay's favourable group and their record of eight clean sheets from qualifying.
Best Young Player
The award is supposed to reward emerging young talent, but appears to be the easiest market to predict, with Gabriel Jesus (6/4) and Kylian Mbappe (15/8) clear favourites. Ousmane Dembele follows at 11/2, while Marcus Rashford (14/1) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (50/1) are England's contenders and Sky Bet's biggest liabilities.