Here’s a look at the top World Cup favorites and their odds entering the Round of 16, giving a reason why they will win and one reason why they won’t and what the betting trends
are going to be:
Brazil +350 to win World Cup
Why they’ll win the World Cup: We’re just starting to see the best from this Brazilian squad. They didn’t look sharp in the tournament opener, a 1-1 draw with Switzerland, and needed 90-plus minutes to avoid another draw against Costa Rica. But since marking those two injury-time goals in that second Group E contest, Brazil has looked like the tournament favorite we all expected to show in Russia. There’s a surplus of talent on this roster and we’ve yet to see their best.
Why they won’t win: Brazil draws a tough matchup with Mexico in the Round of 16. Mexico handled Germany in the tournament opener, so they can rise to the occasion against elite competition. As noted above, we have yet to see the best from this Brazil team – but what if that uninspired play in the group stage was their best? We’ve watched this team fail to show up and that 7-1 thrashing at the hands of the Germans in the 2014 World Cup still haunts this side.
Why they’ll win the World Cup: Spain is among the most talented teams in the World Cup and while they stumbled in Group B play, they should easily outmatch Round of 16 opponent Russia, which was exposed against a quality Uruguay side in their final group game. The Spaniards are the class of that side of the tournament bracket, so they have an easier path deep into the World Cup knockout phase.
Why they won’t win: This squad was in disarray entering the World Cup and hasn’t looked good at all, scoring six but allowing five goals against. Julen Lopetegui was sacked as the national team manager just before the tournament, and that disfunction showed with two draws in group play. The porous defending is a very sore spot as the tournament steps up in intensity.
Why they’ll win the World Cup: Belgium wowed in group play, blowing away their first two opponents before an odd matchup with England in the final game – a match neither wanted to win. They get a soft pass in the Round of 16, facing Japan, and that should help give them momentum heading into bigger matchups with the likes of Brazil or Mexico in the quarterfinals.
Why they won’t win: A victory in the finale of Group G play actually stuck Belgium in the tougher side of the World Cup knockout bracket. While they should cruise against Japan, there are elite squads waiting for them deeper in the tournament. Star striker Lukaku has been brilliant, but he could be slowed by a nagging ankle injury which will surely be the target of opposing defenders.
Why they’ll win the World Cup: England could have the best player in the tournament on the pitch, in Tottenham striker Harry Kane. He scored five goals in two games before sitting in the final Group G contest. Due to that loss to Belgium in the group finale, the Three Lions end up on the softer side of the elimination rounds, facing Colombia in the Round of 16 with a well-rested and focused group of hungry footballers.
Why they’ll lose: England really hasn’t proven itself yet. They needed injury-time magic from Kane to steal a win over Tunisia and rolled a horrible Panama squad before a meaningless match versus Belgium, in which both teams really wanted to lose. Colombia went undefeated in Group H against perhaps the toughest pool in the tournament, all things considered.