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What's a good bet on the World Cup?. We look at the best value bets to be had on the winner betting market for the 2018 World Cup this June.
The 2018 World Cup is nearing and the excitement for the tournament in Russia is reaching fever pitch. The international breaks, friendlies and fixtures are finished until the end of May – post-Champions League final – and players have turned their attention to one last push for a World Cup place in their respective national teams.
Germany (9/2) and Brazil (9/2) are the sportsbooks' unanimous joint-favourites to win the World Cup 2018. Germany are the defending champions and have the most loaded squad of the 32 teams.
Brazil have Neymar and a host of other top-level players. Brazil are always hyped to the moon and back, and sportsbooks often get behind the Selecao at every international tournament.
Although Germany and Brazil maybe the favourites to win the World Cup 2018, an outsider could lift the cup in Russia. The last few international tournaments have seen several nations develop as top footballing countries. Iceland, Colombia and Belgium are all ready to shake up the status quo of World Cup football.
There are also the 2014 World Cup runners-up Argentina, who qualified for Russia on the back of Lionel Messi's dramatic performance during the last qualifying match. The Argentines go into Russia as a dark horse, but could Messi's magic lead them to a World Cup triumph?.
World Cup 2018: What's a good bet?
Dark horse teams to bet on the World Cup
England – 18/1
Currently ranked 13th by FIFA, England go into the 2018 World Cup after an eight-win, two draw, zero loss qualifying campaign. Unfortunately, England have been here before, only to have their hopes smashed in the group stages. At least this year Robert Greene won't be in goal, and hopefully Jack Butland can hang onto a tame shot at from an opposing player.
England allowed just three goals in qualifying and kept eight clean sheets. Sure, they did play the likes of Malta and Lithuania, but you have to beat the teams put in front of you, right? England are in Group G along with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia. On paper, the English and Belgians are No. 1 and No. 2 in the group but knowing which is the better side won't be determined until the final Group G matchday when the nations meet in Kaliningrad.
England may not be exceptionally pretty to watch under Gareth Southgate, but the team are better than the one Roy Hodgson took to Brazil. That side was painful to watch. This year, Southgate's biggest problem maybe finding a striker other than Harry Kane to score goals. If the Tottenham star can ward off fatigue and stay fit, there shouldn't be a problem. But finding a vice-Kane to score goals will be tricky.
One off the pitch factor in Russia could be England's base camp. The Forrest Mix Club has been compared to the team's World Cup home during the 2010 tournament in South Africa. If the team under performs, there will surely be headlines about the boredom the players felt.
Croatia – 33/1
Croatia are often labeled as one of UEFA's top footballing nations when it comes to international tournaments. However, the country has performed poorly at the World Cup post-France 1998. The last World Cup saw the Croatians secure one win while losing twice in the group stages. Needless to say, the Croatians went home early.
Manager Zlatko Dalic was installed as manager during Croatia's final days of World Cup qualifying. Despite being inexperienced as a top-level manager, he guided the team to a win over Ukraine and then beat Greece in the playoffs to reach Russia.
Croatia is in Group D with Argentina, Nigeria and Iceland. It is a difficult group to predict, but if Dalic gets them through the group as the winner, anything can happen.
Croatia do have star players that will most likely play in their last World Cup tournaments. Mario Mandzukic, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic are getting on in years, and this could be their last chance to hoist a Jules Rimet Trophy.
Colombia – 40/1
Colombia was labelled as a hipster pick to win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Although many fans would have questioned why so many pundits were high on the side going into the tournament, their questions were answered when play began. Colombia made it to the quarterfinals behind the tournament's top scorer James Rodriguez (six goals). It was the best performance Colombia have had, but don't be surprised if they equal or do better in 2018.
The national team continued to see its gold generation excel post-Brazil. The team advanced to the semifinals of the Copa America in 2016, finishing third. CONMEBOL qualifying saw Colombia finish fourth, just four points back of second place Uruguay, in a very competitive confederation.
Manager Jose Pekerman will call upon players playing from all over the world. Captain Radamel Falcao continues to score goals for France's Monaco, Davinson Sanchez has become a star defender at Tottenham and Rodriguez has rediscovered his form at Bayern Munich after several poor seasons with Real Madrid. Colombia have a very deep, exciting group of strikers. Falcao, Carlos Bacca, Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata can all score goals and each will be a handful for defences. Colombia are a 40/1 bet on the World Cup winners market.