Who are the top favorites to win the 2018 FIFA World Cup?

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Russia will host the 2018 FIFA World Cup this next summer and as usual, the excitement levels are increasing day after day as we get closer to the opening game between Russia and Saudi Arabia on June 14. Nations from all corners of the globe will clash in Russian soil for an entire month’s time and at the end, only one team will be crowned World Champion and succeed to Germany, who won the title 4 years ago in Brazil. It’s anyone’s tournament and as usual, football predictions for the World Cup 2018 are piling up as everyone gets ready for the big event. With the group stages already announced on December 1 in a draw held in Moscow at the emblematic Kremlin Palace, we can now point our favorites to make history and become the new World Champions on July 15.

1. Brazil

The true national of football will be heading into this World Cup as one of the favorites, but unlike in previous decades, the optimism and confidence levels appear to be a bit limited. The Brazilian National Team lacks the entourage of world-class players they got used to have at their disposal in the past, but nevertheless, they still have enough talent to intimidate anyone who falls in their path.

Led by PSG’s star Neymar Jr, the Brazilian National Team got through the World Cup qualifiers rounds on the top of the CONMEBOL group, finishing their campaign with 12 wins, 5 draws and 1 loss. Their only defeat was precisely their 1st match of the campaign, a 2-0 loss against Chile in October of 2015. After that, they completed 17 straight games undefeated to clinch the first place of the group stages and become the first team in South America to secure their ticket to Russia.

In this World Cup, Brazil was draw in Group E with Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia. It’s not exactly an easy group, especially with 2 European sides that were only defeated once in their qualifying campaign and also a very motivated Costa Rica side who already surprised everyone when they made it to the quarter-finals in the 2014 World Cup.

Brazil Coutinho, Neymar and Gabriel Jesus

Brazil Coutinho, Neymar and Gabriel Jesus

2. Argentina

Another chronic favorite is Argentina, despite their highly disappointing campaign in the World Cup qualifiers. The “Albiceleste”, who already won the tournament twice (the first time in 1978 and the second in 1986), has high hopes of clinching their World Cup title in Russia, mainly because it may be Lionel Messi’s last opportunity to also lift the most coveted trophy of all.

Argentina’s finished their qualifying group in 3rd place, with a record of 7 wins, 7 draws and 4 losses. In those 18 matches, the Argentinians struggled to convince in pretty much every game and scored only 19 goals while conceding 16. Certainly numbers that don’t convince the critics about their true potential to go all the way in this summer’s World Cup, but as long as they have Messi on the pitch, we just can’t rule them out.

Jorge Sampaoli’s men were drawn with Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria in Group D, in what’s definitely one of the strongest groups of the tournament. Iceland will be a debutant in this World Cup but already finished above Croatia in their European qualifying group and that’s quite a feat already since the Croatians, led by Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, are a force to be reckoned. Nigeria is historically one of the most dangerous African sides and they’ll certainly capitalize on who ever underestimates them in this group.

Argentina's captain, Lionel Messi

Argentina’s captain, Lionel Messi

3. Germany

The defending champions will walk into this summer’s World Cup as a major favorite to get their hands in the title, despite not having any big names in their roster except perhaps for Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil and Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos. The Mannschaft was built to Germany’s own image, where there’s no room for individualisms and the group always come first. It’s a very solid team formed by a very young group of players, who are not going to settle for anything other than the World Cup title.

The Germans finished their qualifiers campaign on the group of Group C, with a flawless record of 10 games and 10 wins. Not only that, but Joachim Low’s men also impressed by scoring 43 goals and only conceding 4. It’s a well oiled machine with their eyes set on the top prize in Russia.

Germany was drawn in Group F with Mexico, Sweden and South Korea. It’s going to be interesting to see how they’ll adapt to each team’s playing style and if they are able to keep their top form throughout the tournament. In any case, they’ll be by far the major favorite to win this group and go into the knock-out stages.

German players gathered in group

German players gathered in group

Sources: fifa.com