A dip in their price has brought Brazil level with defending champion Germany at +450, making them co-favorites on the odds to win the 2018 World Cup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
With the quadrennial competition for global soccer supremacy just more than one month away from kicking off in Russia, the top of the World Cup betting lines also includes Spain (+600), France (+700), Argentina (+900), Belgium (+1100), England (+1600) and Portugal (+2500).
While no nation has won back-to-back since Brazil did so with a young Pelé in 1958 and ’62, Germany remains the team to beat, with Leroy Sane of EPL champion Manchester City drawing into a lineup that includes main holdovers from their triumphant 2014 team.
Brazil has its strong history with a record five World Cup titles, but there is the troubling matter of star Neymar, of Paris Saint-Germain, having been sidelined since suffering a knee injury in February.
The debate over the joint favorites could draw heat away from Spain. The 2010 champion has a potential X factor in goalkeeper David de Gea of Manchester United and looks strong along the back line and through the midfield, where Andres Iniesta has one last shot at glory.
The major question about Spain is whether it will have enough natural offense, since neither striker option, Alvaro Morata or Diego Costa, has had much international success.
France has lost key defender Laurent Koscielny to a major Achilles tendon injury, which might be reason enough to fade Les Bleus. Argentina has the star power of Lionel Messi, but the manner in which it struggled just to qualify for the tournament – going down to the last game, in fact – hardly seems auspicious.
Each of the top six teams on the board has won the World Cup at least once. Belgium has the lowest odds of any non-champion, but it was a quarterfinalist in both 2014 and at Euro 2016 and has strong leadership from forward Eden Hazard. Belgium is worth considering for a darkhorse play.
England is in the same group with Belgium and last got past the quarterfinal in 1986. Similarly, Portugal has only been to the semifinals once in the last eight World Cups.
A true darkhorse worth considering is Croatia (+3300), whose price owes to being drawn into the tough Group D that also includes Argentina, Iceland (+15000) and Nigeria (+20000). Croatia, which has Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic shoring up the midfield, was undefeated at the group stage of Euro 2016 before losing out against eventual winner Portugal.
The World Cup begins June 14, with the final set for July 15 in Moscow.
For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.