File image
On Thurday, the world’s greatest sporting event kicks off in Russia and while everyone holds their breath during the month-long soccer World Cup, waiting for a new champion to score the winning goal, sporting bookmakers World Sports Betting have already looked at the odds.

With 32 teams and interesting group combinations, the 2014 hosts Brazil go into this tournament highly fancied and at 4-1 they are currently the narrow favourites for an outright win ahead of defending champions, Germany at 9-2.

The 2010 champions, Spain, are next in the betting at 6-1 with France at 13-2. South American giant Argentina, which lost to Germany in the 2014 final, are at 9-1. At 10-1, Belgium is an outsider but not written off, and England, usually over-hyped going into these events but not this time, are at 18/1.

Says Ryno du Plessis of World Sports Betting: “Spain cruised through their qualification group which included Italy, which failed to qualify for the finals. They collected 28 points from a possible 30 in qualifying where they conceded only three goals in 10 games.

"Spain are looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2014 World Cup where they failed to qualify for the knock-out rounds despite being defending champions and also bowed out in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016, losing to Italy.

"They are in a group with Portugal but shouldn’t have problems qualifying, which is why they are at 6-1,” adds Du Plessis.

African teams have put in some good shifts in World Cups in recent years but have yet to put up a real challenge for the title.

At 200-1, Nigeria may not take home the cup but Du Plessis believes they may win their group stage.

In Group A, Uruguay are the 8-10 favourites to win the group ahead of hosts Russia at 17-10 with Egypt 23-4 and Saudi Arabia, the rank outsiders, at 40-1, while in Group D Argentina are the firm favourites at 6-10 with Croatia at 22-10, Nigeria 10-1 and Iceland 11-1.

“This looks like a very dangerous group and I wouldn’t be piling into Argentina at 6-10. The bet I like here is Nigeria to qualify from the group at 23-10. They are a strong physical side, capable of rattling their foes' cage and if they can get off to a good start against Croatia, I fancy them to kick on to qualify.”

In Group E, Brazil are the overwhelming favourites at 1-4, with Switzerland 23-4, Serbia 29-4 and Costa Rica at 17-1 expected to fight it out for second place. Belgium are the favourites to win Group G at 8-10, with fellow heavyweights England at 23-20 and Tunisia and Panama rank outsiders at 31-2 and 40-1 respectively.