Brazil is tournament favorite after draw; England, France right behind – The Athletic

The 2022 World Cup field is nearly set with 29 of the 32 spots locked in and three more teams to be determined via playoffs. The favorites are a typical list of international powers (with the notable absence of Italy).

Friday’s draw shook up the odds a bit, but the main favorites remain mostly the same. Brazil and France entered as co-favorites at +550 on BetMGM, but Brazil is the sole favorite after being put in Group G with Switzerland, Serbia and Cameroon.

France and England are close behind at +550, with the English getting a boost in the odds after being paired with the USA, Iran and the European playoff winner in Group B. On top of getting the Americans as the Pot 2 team in that group , Group B is paired with Group A for the Round of 16, which features host Qatar as the Pot 1 team.

There are 37 teams alive for the World Cup before the playoffs finish. There are eight teams still playing for the final three places in the World Cup.

Australia and the United Arab Emirates will play in Qatar in June. The winner of that game will take on Peru a week later for the right to go to the World Cup. Costa Rica and New Zealand are paired in a playoff in June. Then there’s the lone remaining European playoff that has been delayed due to the war in Ukraine. If and when Ukraine can play, it will take on Scotland in a semifinal, with the winner advancing to take on Wales for a World Cup berth.

Regardless of what happens in the playoffs, there won’t be a big shift in the odds to win the tournament. Of those eight teams, Wales and Ukraine have the shortest odds, and they are both 150-to-1.

World Cup winner odds

Country Odds

Brazil

+500

France

+550

England

+550

Spain

+800

Argentina

+900

Germany

+1000

Belgium

+1100

Netherlands

+1100

Portugal

+1200

Denmark

+2200

Uruguay

+3300

Croatia

+4000

Senegal

+6600

Serbia

+8000

USA

+8000

Switzerland

+8000

Mexico

+10000

Poland

+10000

Qatar

+10000

Ecuador

+15000

Wales

+15000

Ukraine

+15000

Ghana

+15000

Cameroon

+15000

Japan

+20000

Peru

+20000

Canada

+20000

Iran

+25000

Morocco

+25000

South Korea

+25000

Saudi Arabia

+25000

Scotland

+25000

Australia

+30000

Tunisia

+35000

United Arab Emirates

+35000

Costa Rica

+75000

New Zealand

+75000

How the affected the odds

Beyond the shake up among the top few teams, the tier of nine favorites at the top remained the same. Brazil, France and England are the three favorites, as before. Spain, Argentina, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Portugal are also a tier above the rest in the odds. Portugal is 12-to-1 and next behind is Denmark at 22-to-1, a significant dropoff.

Argentina moved up from 11-1 to 9-1 after drawing Mexico, Poland and Saudi Arabia in Group C. The biggest other mover among the top nine favorites is the Netherlands. The Dutch landed the Group A draw with host Qatar, viewed as a weaker team than the other Pot 1 countries despite playing at home. Before the draw, the Dutch were 16-1, but they are now 11-1.

There is no clear “group of death,” but Spain and Germany are paired together in Group E. Spain’s odds moved from 15-2 to 8-1 while Germany went from 9-1 to 10-1. Two of the last three World Cup winners in the same group will make for a difficult path for both teams. However, Japan and the Costa Rica/New Zealand winner playoff are not major threats, on paper, to prevent those teams from getting out of the group stage.

Group F does have the runner-up from the last World Cup, Croatia, and the third-place team from 2018, Belgium. However, both teams are older than they were then and are not expected to replicate those runs. That is especially true given the likelihood of seeing Germany and Spain in the Round of 16.

For the most part, it appears the restructured format FIFA used for the draw starting in 2018 worked to avoid creating a truly loaded group. Instead of having one pot of seeded teams and the rest grouped by region, FIFA’s world rankings are how teams are placed into pots.

Luckily, the world rankings have improved since some of the truly awful versions in previous years. Remember when the United States was ranked fourth in April of 2006? Yeesh.

The favorites

Brazil (+500)

Group G: Switzerland, Serbia, Cameroon

Brazil was utterly dominant in CONMEBOL qualifying, which is saying something. The Seleção won 14, drew three matches, and finished with a staggering +35 goal differential (40-5).

Brazil has made it to one semifinal since winning the 2002 tournament, and that was the famous 7-1 defeat at the hands of Germany in Belo Horizonte. The five-time world champions will be looking to get back on top.

Historically, South American teams do well when the World Cup is not hosted in Europe. The first eight World Cups hosted outside Europe were won by South American countries (four by Brazil, two by Argentina and two by Uruguay). However, that streak was snapped with Spain winning in South Africa in 2010 and Germany winning in Brazil in 2014.

France (+550)

Group D: Denmark, Tunisia, Peru/Australia/UAE

After being an incredible team to watch in the last World Cup, France looked very beatable in last summer’s Euros despite having much of the same squad. Les Bleus won just once in four matches before going out in the Round of 16.

Still, France has the most talent of any team in the world. Kylian Mbappe continues his ascent to become arguably the best player on the planet. There are strong arguments for not picking France, but it won’t feel good to have this collection of players on the other side.

There have been back-to-back World Cup winners just twice. The most recent to achieve that was Brazil 60 years ago. Good luck.

England (+550)

Group B: USA, Iran, Wales/Scotland/Ukraine

Ahh, the English. Always rated among the best teams in the world, but without the trophies to show for it. England was impressive in the Euros but left Wembley Stadium just once in that run to the final. England went undefeated in qualifying with eight wins and a pair of draws.

Putting England as the third-favorite seems a bit high, but the talent on the squad is undeniable. It’s whether or not the Three Lions will live up to it.

Spain (+800)

Group E: Germany, Japan, Costa Rica/New Zealand

Last October, Spain made it to the UEFA Nations League final, ending Italy’s 37-match unbeaten streak in the semifinals. Between that showing and a semifinal appearance in the Euros a few months earlier, Spain appears on the rise again.

The Spaniards won Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, fielding one of the best national teams ever. However, they went the next three major tournaments without winning a knockout match.

Midfielder Pedri had a breakout tournament in last summer’s Euros and will be just 19 at the start of the tournament. This could be another showcase for his talent.

Argentina (+900)

Group C: Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia

Can Leo Messi guide Argentina to a World Cup in what could be Messi’s last World Cup? He will be 35 by the time the tournament starts and hasn’t been as dominant this club season with Paris Saint-Germain.

Argentina went undefeated in qualifying, with an abandoned match in Brazil that had no need to be played. It also won Copa America last summer, which was the country’s first major trophy in 28 years. Argentina winning the first World Cup after Diego Maradona’s death in what could be Messi’s last World Cup sure would be a storyline.

Germany (+1000)

Group E: Spain, Japan, Costa Rica/New Zealand

As discussed above about the draw, Germany is not in Pot 1 like the other teams at the top of the odds board. In a mostly easy qualifying group, the Germans nearly went perfect, outside of a random home loss to North Macedonia. Ask Italy about that.

The Germans haven’t looked great at the past two major tournaments, going down in the group stage in the 2018 World Cup and winning one out of four matches in last year’s Euros. Will this be a rebound or more uninspiring play from Germany?

(Photo of Neymar: Carl De Souza / AFP via Getty Images; The Athletic may receive an affiliate commission if you open an account with BetMGM through links contained in the above article.)

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