World Cup Winner –
Having won the 2014 World Cup, Germany bid to win back-to-back titles. Joachim Löw’s side qualified with ease for Russia, and are currently second favourites behind Brazil for the 2018 crown, but Infogol data suggests that is not a fair reflection on a German side that has a perfect blend of youth and experience.
After running tens of thousands of simulations using Expected Goal data (xG), Infogol calculates that Germany have a 19% chance of winning the World Cup, the best of any team taking part, and should be considered clear favourites. The 5/1 on offer with Paddy Power represents good value, and they should be backed accordingly.
One team that are often touted as ‘dark horses’ are Belgium. Their current side is one of the most well-known in the competition, littered with players from the big European leagues, and as a result a lot more has been expected of them in the last two tournaments (2014 World Cup and EURO 2016).
They have disappointed each time, and are yet to fulfil the potential that their talented squad has to offer, however a new manager and a new approach may change this, with Roberto Martinez replacing Marc Wilmots to great effect so far.
A straightforward group followed by another winnable game in the second round means they are expected to get to another quarter final, and, though the road gets rockier from then on, there is no doubt that they have the players to go all the way in Russia.
Infogol calculates that they have around a 12% chance of lifting the World Cup, which equates to 15/2, so the 10/1 on offer represents excellent value.
In 2014, James Rodriguez won the Golden Boot after an excellent tournament with Colombia, scoring six goals as they got to the quarters. As ever, it’ss worth taking into account teams that players will be playing against in the group stage, how far their side is likely to go, and what their route to the final looks like.
Lionel Messi is well-fancied, however, Argentina have something to prove after a mixed qualifying campaign, while Antoine Griezmann is a major player for France, but they haven’t really impressed at the World Cup since finishing second in 2006. Market leader Neymar, meanwhile, is returning from injury.
Instead, Romelu Lukaku is the first selection at 14/1. Playing for a Belgium team that was free-scoring in qualifying, Lukaku averaged 1.05 xG/90, showing that he was getting on the end of good chances in matches.
With Group G not the most taxing on paper, Belgium could rack up the goals, with Lukaku the main candidate to take advantage. As explained above, Infogol data suggests that Belgium will have a good World Cup, meaning Lukaku is likely to play more games than most.
The other selection – at generous odds of 25/1 – is Thomas Müller. That’s a big price for a player that has scored five goals in each of the last two World Cups. He’s a mainstay of the German national team, is expected to start matches and always seems to get on the end of chances.
As explained, Germany are the most likely team to lift the World Cup according to Infogol data, and with Müller expected to get plenty of opportunities to add to his World Cup tally, he looks a good bet.
On the face of it, England have a relatively straightforward group. Though it hasn’t always been the case with teams of a similar ilk, games against Panama and Tunisia should both yield comfortable wins, with the main rivals for top spot being Belgium.
England have a 67% chance of beating Tunisia in their opening game, and a 71% chance of beating Panama in their second match. If these two results do occur as expected, England will have qualified before they face Belgium.
A much tighter affair is expected between the two teams, with Belgium most likely to come out on top (41%) in a game which should decide who finishes top of Group G.
Whether England finish first or second shouldn’t matter too much when it comes to the Last 16, where the Three Lions will face one of Colombia, Poland, Senegal or Japan, but it would matter come the quarter final stage, provided England get that far.
A first-place finish in Group G means there is a high chance of being on the same side of the draw as Brazil; finish second, and England have a high chance of being in the same half of the draw as old enemies Germany.
With Infogol calculating that England’s most likely finishing position in Group G will be second, they would more than likely face Colombia in the last 16, Infogol’s favourites to top Group F.
England have a 24.4% chance of being eliminated in the Last 16, with their most likely stage of elimination being the Quarter Finals.
It’s not that surprising given that they could easily play Germany.
In terms of other stages of elimination, Gareth Southgate’s team have a 16.6% chance of going out in the Semi Finals, an 8.8% chance of losing in the Final, and a 6.6% chance of winning the 2018 World Cup. That all equates to around 14/1 for England to lift the trophy – are you tempted by the 16/1 on offer with Paddy Power yet?
Infogol’s Paddy Power punts:
Germany to win the 2018 World Cup and Thomas Müller to be top goalscorer – 50/1
Belgium to win the 2018 World Cup and Romelu Lukaku to be top goalscorer – 66/1
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*All odds Correct at time of posting