32-Team Field Still Taking Shape
The FIFA World Cup in Qatar may be seven months away, but it’s never too early to take a look at the odds board. According to the World Cup odds, Brazil is the early favorites to hoist the trophy at +450, but there are plenty of teams in the mix. With the World Cup draw already in the books, we’ll take a closer look at the odds to win each individual group.
Groups with the host nation, in this case Qatar, always seem to be relatively open and this one is no exception. The Netherlands are heavy favorites at -250 but their lackluster showing at Euro 2020 raises a fair few questions. Since then, Louis van Gaal took over as coach and has the team off to an undefeated start in nine games. Still, the Dutch don’t necessarily have a world-class striker.
Senegal defeated Egypt in penalties to win the Africa Cup of Nations, and did it again less than two months later to secure World Cup qualification. This is one of the most dangerous sleeper teams in the tournament and they’re currently listed at +450 to win the group. With players like Edouard Mendy, Sadio Mane and Kalidou Koulibaly, that line could get shorter .
Ecuador was excellent in the high altitude of Quito in World Cup qualifying but the dry heat of Qatar will present a different challenge. They have some talented players but +600 Group Stage odds appear to be fair value. Meanwhile, hosts Qatar, listed at +1400 in their first-ever World Cup, raised a few eyebrows by making the Gold Cup semifinal last year. It’d be a little shocking if they won the group but home-field advantage could come into play.
This is one of the more intriguing groups, especially given the teams are yet to be determined. One of Wales, Scotland or Ukraine will be joining England, Team USA and Iran in a politically charged pairing.
England will feel they should have won Euro 2020 and pressure may be mounting on Gareth Southgate if they don’t put forth a good showing in Qatar. The Three Lions are listed at -300 to win the group and are clear favorites.
Wales, which will face the winner of Ukraine and Scotland in the European playoff, is priced at +500. If Wales qualifies, this will almost certainly be Gareth Bale’s last international tournament and don’t be surprised if he goes off. A young United States side is not far behind at +550. They could certainly make the Round of 16, but it seems they may be one World Cup away from making real noise.
Scotland and Ukraine are both listed at +600 and both teams faced England at Euro 2020. Scotland managed a Group Stage draw while England trounced Ukraine 4-0 in the quarterfinals. Iran are longshots at +2000 but they picked up the most points in Asian qualifying and have lost just once since 2019.
Lionel Messi has struggled a bit at PSG but he’s still by far Argentina’s most important player. With a solid goalkeeper in Emi Martinez and an improved back line, Argentina is -250 favorites to win Group C.
Messi won the Ballon d’Or last year over Robert Lewandowski, but the Bayern Munich and Poland standout is the best striker in the world. He’s scored 30-plus goals for three straight seasons and will presumably leave Bayern this summer with eight Bundesliga titles in eight seasons. Poland’s hopes rest on him and they’re priced at +450 to win Group C.
Mexico has been somewhat disappointing lately and El Tri finished second to Canada in CONCACAF qualifiers. There’s talent here but not much reason for them to be listed at shorter odds than +500. Saudi Arabia are longshots at +2000 but they did finish over Japan and Australia in AFC qualifying.
Interestingly enough, the last three World Cup champs prior to France failed to qualify out of the Group Stage in the tournament immediately following their win. That’d be a massive disappointment for the -250 Group D favorites but it’s certainly not out of the question. Denmark impressed at the Euros and is one of the most cohesive teams in world football. They drew with France at the last World Cup and look to be an interesting pick at +300. Tunisia, priced at +1200, has done well to qualify for consecutive World Cups but it’s questionable whether they have enough firepower to make a deep run.
Peru snuck into the last CONMEBOL qualifying spot and awaits the winner of the playoff between UAE and Australia. Right now would be the best time to bet on them at +1200, as its odds will certainly get shorter if they qualify. Australia and UAE are both big longshots at +2200 and +3500, respectively, and have an uphill battle just to get to Qatar.
Group E has two of the best teams in the tournament in Spain and Germany. The biggest Group Stage match will be when they meet on Nov. 27. Luis Enrique’s Spain are -110 favorites and have a ton of young talent. Players like Pedri, Ferran Torres, Gavi and Dani Olmo have injected life into an aging squad.
Germany was the first team to qualify for the World Cup and has undergone a revival under Hansi Flick. They’re 8-0-1 since the former Bayern Munich manager took over and are listed at +105 to win the group.
Japan, at +900, will be a tricky opponent for every team in the group due to a solid defense. Liverpool’s Takumi Minamino is their main man going forward but Japan will need others to step up around him.
The winner of a June playoff between New Zealand and Costa Rica will be the final team in the group. They’re both by far the biggest group stage longshots at +10000.
Belgium’s golden generation has one last opportunity to take home a major trophy but they find themselves in a tricky group. The Red Devils are priced at -190 to win the group but will face Croatia, Morocco and a fledgling Canada.
Croatia were runners-up in 2018 but the team is aging and Ivan Rakitic has since retired from international competition. Luka Modric still has some gas left in the tank so it wouldn’t be surprising if they go on a run. They’ll first have to get out of a group they’re listed at +225 to win.
Don’t sleep on Morocco. They have a solid keeper in Yassine Bounou, one of the world’s best right backs in Achraf Hakimi and a good deal of attacking talent. Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech has been left out recently, but don’t be surprised to see Morocco at shorter than +1000 odds if he’s named to the roster.
Canada, playing in their first World Cup since 1986, should be an exciting team to watch at the very least. Jonathan David briefly led Ligue 1 in scoring and Alphonso Davies is arguably the best left back in the world. They’re an intriguing pick at +1600.
This group isn’t as straightforward as it appears for favorites Brazil. Neymar and Co. are listed at -225 to win but none of Switzerland, Serbia or Cameroon are pushovers. Strangely enough, Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland were all in the same group last time around and Brazil came out on top
Switzerland knocked out France in last year’s Euros and finished above Italy in World Cup qualifying. They drew with Brazil in 2018 and will receive a lot of action at +450.
Dusan Vlahovic is one of the best young strikers in the world and Aleksandr Mitrovic is one of the most in form. It’d be easy to see this experienced Serbian team get out of the group for consecutive World Cups. They might be a bargain to win the group at +550.
Cameroon is underdogs at +1200 but it has an exciting striker pairing in Vincent Aboubakar and Karl Toko Ekambi.
Just about the only major trophy Cristiano Ronaldo hasn’t won is a World Cup. This will be his last, and possibly best, opportunity with a well-rounded Portugal squad. Portugal are -150 favorites to win Group H but will face stiff competition from Uruguay.
It originally looked like Uruguay would miss out on the World Cup but they won their last four qualifiers to book their place in Qatar. They’ve made the knockout stage in the last three tournaments and come in at +200 to win Group H.
Both South Korea and Ghana are at +1100 to win the group but don’t be surprised to see them get a couple of results. South Korea knocked out Germany last time around and Ghana has some accomplished players like Thomas Partey and Jordan Ayew.