Just a couple of months to go until the biggest football event on this planet starts again. OZB offers insights into the teams, the player to watch and the odds on who is likely to win the championship.
By Marcel de Roode
The five time champion Selecao is of course one of the top favourites. It goes without saying that if you have top talents like Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho at your disposal, you don’t have to fear anyone. Coach Tite brought this team back where they belong, at the top. Samba football at its best!
Ranking FIFA: 2
Player to watch: Neymar
Odds to win tournament: 19/4
People in Switzerland expect the team to make it to the final stages. Coach Vladimir Petković praises the excellent team spirit and a tremendous will to succeed. This team has it all, creative players like Xherdan Shaqiri, strong fullbacks like Juventus’s Stephan Lichtsteiner, and a strong central
defense. A team that will be hard
Ranking FIFA: 8
Player to watch: Denis Zakaria
Odds to win the tournament: 200/1
Costa Rica was a sensation four years ago, reaching the World Cup quarter-finals. Oscar Ramirez is the new coach, nothing really changed, they stayed in excellent shape and were hard to beat. Star players in this team are Bryan Ruiz, Celso Borges and goalkeeper Keylor Navas. They have enough quality to reach the knockout phase.
Ranking FIFA: 26
Player to watch: Keylor Navas
Odds to win tournament: 750/1
Serbia qualified quite easily, with only one defeat in 10 matches. New coach Mladen Krstajić brought back star midfielder Sergej Milinković. The result of all this: superb performances by Milinković and his teammates, and the message from Milinković to the non-believers that he can lead the team to victory. Interesting to see how far they will reach.
Ranking FIFA: 37
Player to watch: Sergej Milinković
Odds to win tournament: 250/1
What can we say about the mighty Germans. They are always and everywhere the favourites. They qualified for the World Cup with a perfect 10 wins and a record of 43 goals. It’s enough to look at the list of top players available to understand why: Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Manuel Neuer, Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller, and the list goes on and on. If you want a sure bet, bet on these guys!
Ranking FIFA: 1
Player to watch: entire team
Odds to win tournament: 5/1
Mexico had totally no problems reaching the World Cup final. At this moment the team consists of many experienced players. Players like Guillermo Ochoa, Andres Guardado, Hector Moreno and Javier Hernandez. The more offensive way of playing has changed to a more defensive style of playing, meaning a five men defence. This could bring them more stability and a bigger chance to stay longer in the tournament.
Ranking FIFA: 16
Player to watch: Hirving Lozano
Odds to win tournament: 125/1
The big question for Sweden is : will Zlatan play? Yes or no? During the last months the Big man himself surprised everyone around him saying maybe he would join the Swedish team. What he literally said was: “What is a World Cup without Zlatan?”. We can name here, off course, a lot of good players in the team, but without Zlatan the chances of getting to the next round will drop significantly.
Ranking FIFA: 18
Player to watch: we hope Zlatan
Odds to win tournament: 200/1