We are almost exactly a year away from the start of the 2018 World Cup in Russia - the first game kicks off on June 14. There is a whole lot left to decide between now and then - Russia and Brazil are the only two teams officially qualified, for example, so we certainly don't know anything about matchups or paths to the finals. It's never too early to look at what could happen, though - not when there are futures odds to potentially bet on. Here's a look at some of the more interesting prices currently available from MyBookie :
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Germany (+380): They are the defending champs, and they beat Argentina and Brazil - in Brazil, no less - to claim that crown. Obviously they are good. And they have looked very good in qualifying so far, too. They know how to win, they have serious talent, and they get to play a lot closer to home this time. They are the unquestioned and deserving favorites.
Argentina (+580): They have probably the best player in the world, but in their last three major international tournaments they have lost in the finals. That means that they are good enough to compete but not good enough to make the final step - the only one that really matters. They have some work to do right now - with just four games left in the 18-game qualification slate in CONMEBOL they sit fifth. Only four teams advance automatically, and the fifth needs to play a further playoff round. That's far from ideal. I don't love this price.
Brazil (+580): They looked very strong in qualifying, including 3-0 wins over both Argentina and Ecuador. They have silly amounts of scoring talent, and they can defend at a very high level, too. They need to prove that they can win when it really matters in the World Cup, and they will have a much larger gap between meaningful games than other teams, but at a relative level at least there is some value here.
Spain (+580): There might not be a team in the whole tournament that needs a major performance in Russia any more than Spain does. After assembling a dynasty they will enter this tournament six years from their last significant title and eight years from their last World Cup crown in South Africa. A lot of teams would obviously kill for success like Spain has had, but this squad is going through a transition - in coaching and in leadership - and they need a big showing here to prove that they can maintain the ridiculously high standards of this program. I'm not particularly optimistic for them, and I don't love this price.
France (+750): They lost in the finals of Euro 2016 but seem to have grown stronger from that experience. They have faced some injury issues this year but have dealt with them with grace - and shown off some depth at the same time. After a draw against Belarus in their qualifying opener, they have won four straight and looked strong. Again, in relative terms this price is more than fair.
Italy (+1000): It's a race against time for this team here. They are a very talented team but also a very young one. If they can mature and develop fast enough they could be really dangerous. Otherwise they will be a major threat in 2022 in Qatar - or wherever that tournament is ultimately played.
Belgium (+1100): This squad was a popular wise guy pick in 2014. I'll admit I got sucked in. And it went poorly - for them and for my wallet. I certainly am not going to be fooled again - not at a price like this, anyway. They have gone through a coaching change since the last World Cup, and I'm not at all sold on it.
England (+1100): They made a much-needed coaching change and improved. They made some key roster changes to get rid of older guys who were holding them back, and they improved further. There is a lot to like about this new-look, new-attitude team. But they are still England, so that makes me very nervous - and makes me very skeptical of this obvious public-driven price.
USA (+3300): I'm not an American, but I know most of you reading this are. Do you want me to be kind and pretend that things aren't bleak? (And to be fair, my Canadian team hasn't made a World Cup in decades and didn't even come remotely close this year, so it's not like I have any ground to stand on and gloat here) They made a much-needed coaching change, and they are young and full of promising talents. Right now, though, they are a whole long way from prime time. They have to work hard just to qualify, and then they would need the softest path ever to have any chance of making any kind of impact. Sadly, I wouldn't be interested at three times this price.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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