Who will be world champion? To get an answer, you could ask for the opinion of coaches, players, experts or fans.
Or you could ask the people who have a large financial stake in the outcome: bookies.
With each team having played one game, the most likely team to win the World Cup this year is Brazil, as they are almost every year, according to oddsmakers around the world. But it’s far from safe. The team’s odds are around 3-1, which means at best they have around a 25 percent chance of winning the trophy at this point.
France (6:1) as well as England and Spain (both 7:1) are also strong competitors. The next leading contender is, somewhat surprisingly, Argentina 8-1 despite losing their opening game to Saudi Arabia. The consensus seems to be that they will bounce back against Mexico and Poland and make it to the knockout rounds. On the other hand, Argentina were originally second favorites 5-1, so they’ve certainly slipped.
As you may have noticed, the favorites are the usual suspects.
The truth is, long shots don’t often become world champions. Oh, they sometimes surprisingly make it to the semifinals (South Korea 2002) or even the finals (Croatia 2018), but they just don’t win it.
So if you really believe in the United States (150-1) or even Costa Rica (up to 3,000-1 after losing 7-0 to Spain), you could be richly rewarded if they brave the odds in the final on June 18. December.
There are also odds for each award which give an indication of who bettors and bookmakers think will do well in the rest of the tournament.
Who else but Lionel Messi (7-1) was the favorite for the Golden Ball as player of the tournament before the start of the World Cup, an award he had won eight years ago. But after Argentina’s stutter, he slipped behind Kylian Mbappé of France (6-1).
This award almost always goes to a player on a winning team, but not necessarily to the winner. The last two Golden Balls went to the runners-up (Luka Modrić of Croatia and Messi), and the previous winner, Diego Forlán of Uruguay, only reached the semifinals.
The final game on Thursday clearly shook up the bets for the Golden Boot for the tournament’s top scorer. Richarlíson of Brazil was 25-1 before the start of the tournament but his two goals against Serbia made him an 8-1 favorite. The other top contenders are Mbappé (9-1, one goal so far), Olivier Giroud of France (11-1, two goals) and Messi (13-1, one goal).
The other players with two goals so far do not arouse as much interest among punters: Ferran Torres from Spain (20-1), Bukayo Saka from England (20-1), Enner Valencia from Ecuador (50-1) and Mehdi Taremi from the Iran (a shot so long few bookies have posted a prize for it anymore).
Fancy an American to get a lot of goals? Timothy Weah, who scored the Americans’ only goal in the first game, is the tournament’s top scorer by 300-1 or more.