World Cup outright tips: Who to back to win in Russia
With the tournament getting under way this week, we give our best outright pick to lift the trophy in Moscow this summer.
It's good news for the established powers, as there have only been two first-time winners since 1966.
They were France in 1998 and Spain in 2010, neither of whom were outsiders in the lead up to the respective tournaments.
With there being just six different teams to have lifted the trophy since England’s triumph 52 years ago, past success clearly has an influence.
As a result it is difficult to get behind fourth-favourites Belgium, who are in the football betting.
Portugal, at , can also be discounted from becoming only the third ever side to win the World Cup straight after the European Championship.
And given that the World Cup has never been won by a side outside Europe or South America, we can narrow the market even further.
Argentina can take encouragement from the fact a poor qualifying record doesn’t have to be terminal to a side’s tournament ambitions.
Jorge Sampaoli’s side scraped through qualification, finishing 13 points behind Brazil and made the cut by just two points.
Brazil qualified in a similar manner for the 2002 World Cup, also finishing 13 points behind the group winners, before going on to lift the trophy.
So it’s understandable that Argentina remain as short as to win the tournament.
But with each of the last three World Cup winners having topped their qualification group, there is better value to be had elsewhere.
Joint-favourites Germany are the only side to have made it to Russia with a 100 per cent record in qualifying and are an enticing bet at .
It pays to bring an experienced squad to the World Cup, with each of the last 13 winners having had an average of at least 20 caps per player.
That’s not good news for England , who have picked a youthful 23 which lacks international nous.
The Three Lions have chosen seven players with fewer than 10 appearances for the national team, including the recently capped Nick Pope and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
At the other end of the scale, Brazil’s squad looks too old with an average age of 28.
Italy’s 2006 World Cup winners are the only side to have won the tournament with an average squad age over 28.
Of the favourites, Germany again look in good shape.
Joachim Low’s squad have an average of 41 caps per player, while their average age is 26 years old – exactly the same as the average of the previous 20 winners.
Path to the final
England fans, look away now.
Should Gareth Southgate’s side win their group, it’s likely they will face a tricky last-16 tie against either Colombia or Senegal.
If they make it past that, then it will be a quarter-final against Brazil.
Finishing second isn’t any better for the Three Lions, who will have Germany as probable opponents in the last eight.
Spain should have a relatively simple path to the quarter final, with a potential last-16 meeting with either Russia or Egypt being as difficult as it gets.
But a quarter final against Argentina followed by a semi-final with Germany means that, at , they should be avoided.
Should they win their group, Germany should have an easy path to their fifth consecutive World Cup semi-final.
Die Mannschaft are likely to face Switzerland in the second round, followed by either England or Belgium next.
They should negotiate either of those ties without too much trouble and, at , should be backed to lift the trophy.