World Cup tips: Our guide to the South American teams
Brazil head Argentina in the betting for the continent's top team, but Uruguay, Colombia and Peru are all capable of springing a surprise.
Whether through their own quality, luck of the draw, or both, the prospect of all five South American teams at least progressing to the knock-out stages is good.
But for Brazil, going deep into the tournament is a near-certainty.
Since taking over as manager in 2016, Tite has galvanised a squad that badly lacked direction and discipline, best evidenced by that 7-1 defeat to Germany on home soil four years ago.
Indeed, the 57-year-old is so set on his World Cup formula that he named his likely starting XI for this tournament back in February, although that has been slightly disrupted by an injury to Dani Alves.
An attacking trio of Philippe Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus and Neymar – available to win player of the tournament at – fronts a more functional team than Brazil have produced recently, which is to their benefit.
Assuming they win Group E, they should avoid fellow favourites Germany and Spain until the final, which they can be backed to reach at .
Their price of to top the South American teams is a tempter, too.
The same cannot be said for the available for Argentina in the same market.
Not many teams are as reliant on one individual as Jorge Sampaoli’s team will be on Lionel Messi this summer – which is extraordinary, considering he will be joined in attack by Angel di Maria and one of Sergio Aguero or Gonzalo Higuain.
Messi must paper over the cracks of a side that struggles to balance Sampaoli’s high-pressing demands and a lack of individual pace and energy, with March’s 6-1 defeat to Spain proving what can happen when they fail to find it.
That said, there are worse individuals to rely upon. That they are still available at to win Group D suggests as much.
Though Brazil are justifiably favourites, Uruguay’s price of to finish as the top South American team is also of interest.
Oscar Tabarez’s side have been gifted the easiest group in the competition, landing Russia as the first seed, and can set themselves on a kind path to at least the quarter-finals by topping it.
Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani will spearhead much more of a ball-playing side than at previous tournaments, with Juventus’ Rodrigo Bentancur, Inter’s Matias Vecino and Sampdoria’s Lucas Torreira battling for places in midfield.
A last-16 game with the second-placed team in Group B – where Portugal are vulnerable to Morocco and Iran – means that a quarter-final exit is well worth a bet at , while winning Group A also holds some value at , too.
Which still leaves two dark horses in Colombia and Peru.
The former are in the tournament’s most open group, but Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez and an array of other talent should be strong enough to see off Poland, Senegal and Japan to win Group H at .
A meeting with England could be one of the more fascinating encounters in the last 16.
Peru’s destiny should be decided on day three of the tournament, when they take on Denmark in a group where France will likely dominate and Australia will struggle.
Ricardo Gareca’s impressive side are unbeaten in 14 matches, a particularly encouraging sequence given the risks involved in their attacking brand of football that has seen them score 25 goals in the meantime.
A front line featuring Christian Cueva, Andre Carrillo and Jefferson Farfan has been further boosted by the availability of captain and leading goalscorer Paolo Guerrero. They could prove the inspiration for one of the surprise teams of the tournament.
Finishing runner-up to France in Group D would set up a colossal clash with Argentina in the last 16, in which they should not be discounted. Back them at for a quarter-final exit.
Brazil to be the top South American team –
Brazil to reach the final –
Uruguay to go out in the quarter-finals –
Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia and Peru all to qualify from their group –
Worth a punt
Peru to go out in the quarter-finals –
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