Ultimately the cream rises to the top in the World Cup and the tournament is won by one of the superpowers of the game. The winning nation has always been from South America or Europe and only eight countries have been the football champions of the world. France, Spain and England are one time winners and the other world champions have won the World Cup more than once. Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay are the multiple winners from South America and Germany and Italy are the European sides that have won more than one World Cup.
One of the greatest achievements for any national team is to win the World Cup out of their own continent. Brazil won the tournament in Sweden in 1958 and the United States in 1994 and Germany were the World Cup winners in Brazil four years ago. Climate and playing conditions are different in various parts of the world so it takes a special team to win the World Cup many miles from home. Brazil are the joint favourites with Germany to win the 2018 World Cup in Russia so they could achieve the unique feat of winning the trophy in another continent for the third time.
The five shortest priced teams to win the 2018 World Cup are former winners. The bookmakers believe Belgium have the best chance of being first time World Cup winners in 2018. Portugal have never won the World Cup but the current European champions are equipped to do the double. Any side containing Cristiano Ronaldo has a chance but the team also had a solid defence at Euro 2016 which Portugal won. Colombia are the first South American team in the betting who have not won the World Cup.
Playing the World Cup at home is a big advantage but since 1966 only England, Argentina (1978) and France (1998) have won the tournament in their own back yard. The hosts should have a genuine chance of winning the World Cup but clearly Russia this time and Qatar in 2022 are not good enough to beat the rest of the world. In fact on world rankings and odds Russia look like struggling to qualify for the knockout stages by finishing in the first two in their group. The quality of football in Qatar must rise a few levels over the next four years or the hosts wont get out their group.
Italy and Brazil are the only countries to successfully defend the World Cup and no side has won three tournaments in a row. There have been 12 tournaments since 1970 and Brazil and/or Germany have been the finalists nine times. Brazil are the only team to appear in three successive finals and they have also qualified for three out of four. The only other nation to replicate that achievement is Argentina (1978, 1986 and 1990). The Netherlands have been the losing finalists three times but have yet to win the World Cup and they did not qualify this time.
There are often upsets in the group stages of the World Cup and matches in the last 16 don’t always go to form. However, the business end of the World Cup is dominated by the best football nations and a final between Brazil and Germany will be true to historical form. France and Spain could be playing for third place.