It’s fair to say that, for most England fans, the 2018 World Cup is one that is being approached with hope rather than expectation. Gone are the days of the country building itself into a fevered pitch of excitement, determined that the years of hurt — as a famous song once put it — would soon be coming to an end.
However, reality has largely tempered these expectations over the years. It’s easy to see why this is, too. The original line of Baddiel and Skinner’s song was “thirty years of hurt”... and it’s now over fifty years. After that much disappointment, it’s fair to say England fans have become a little more reasonable about the team’s chances.
Yet, there is always hope. Interestingly, the World Cup has thus far proved itself to be capable of a few shocks. Iceland have continued their knack for proving far more adept at football than people give them credit for. Big hitters like Spain and Germany aren’t quite firing on all cylinders just yet. Given that nothing is going quite as predicted, could there be a chance for England yet?
Well, no. Probably not. England still have issues to overcome; most notably, the group match against the much-fancied Belgium. Realistically, this England team aren’t going to win the World Cup. The general consensus is that advancing in the knockout stages would be something of a triumph.
For the most part, the bookies agree. The overall look of the odds (at the time of writing) is that England are roughly the seventh most likely to team to win the World Cup. The general feeling among betting sites is that England are between 10 and 12 to one to win the World Cup. Ladbrokes are on the optimistic side with 10/1, while Bet365 errs on the side of caution with 12/1. Whichever you may choose, the bookies very much seem to believe that this isn’t England’s year. Seventh most-favoured may sound promising, but realistically, that’s only a little better than expecting England to make it to the quarter-finals. Even that may prove to be a tough ask.
The truth is that this England team is relatively young and inexperienced, and the same can be applied to the management team also. There’s a hint of stardust in the ranks thanks to the presence of the likes of Harry Kane, but the overall necessities for a winning team just aren’t there at present. While there’s always a chance for optimism, most have accepted that 2018 won’t see the England team triumph. This feeling has been reflected by fans, pundits, and the bookmakers.
However, that does mean there is one very important question to consider as the festival of football continues apace…
If not England, who?
It should come as no surprise that most people — even those who know next to nothing about football — will likely answer “Brazil” to the question of who comes next. Everyone knows Brazil aren’t too bad at football, and truthfully, it’s tough to overlook the current team for the 2018 World Cup.
The bookmakers are firmly in agreement, with Brazil ranked as the most likely team to win the tournament. Odds vary between betting sites, but a bet on Brazil is generally available at around 8/1.
However, it’s not a “Brazil or nothing” picture; many betting sites are also offering 8/1 — or thereabouts — for a few other usual suspects. Germany and France are fancied at these odds, though there is the surprise appearance from Belgium. This comes courtesy of a golden generation of players that might just be able to shimmer on the biggest stage of all.
It seems most likely that the winner will come from the crop above, but a little further down the list, there’s a few interesting prospects. Could Uruguay capture the trophy for a third time? Perhaps; most bookies list them at around 22/1. Or maybe Iceland can spring the ultimate surprise? It seems the bookies think not, as they languish at around 200/1. Finally, what of the other World Cup debutants, Panama? Unibet are offering 5,000/1 on Panama to win the World Cup. That sounds ridiculous, until you remember Leicester City won the league in 2016 on those exact odds… so who knows?
The 2018 World Cup is shaping up to be an interesting one, even if the field of favourites is primarily headed by the old familiar guard. While England’s prospects aren’t particularly rosy, there’s still plenty to talk about, discuss, and ultimately have a flutter on before the tournament concludes in mid-July.