Are Brazil Worthy World Cup Favourites?

Are Brazil Worthy World Cup Favourites?

With less than three months to go before things kick off in Qatar, it is legitimately acceptable to be excited about the World Cup now. And while that means securing your World Cup wallchart and engaging in heated debate about who should and shouldn’t be in your national squad, it also means thinking about betting on the World Cup. Who’ll be the top scorer in Qatar? Who’ll fail to make it out of the group stages – do France need to fear the curse of the defending champion? And most importantly, who will win the whole thing when the final takes place in December?

The current favourites are Brazil, which will raise a few eyebrows considering their performances in recent World Cups. Knocked out by a talented but fragile Belgium in 2018, absolutely trounced on home soil by Germany four years prior… there’s no doubt that Seleccao can call upon exceptional talent for the big tournaments, but there are certainly questions over their ability to pull it together for seven consecutive games. Maybe they do deserve to be favourites, but we need to answer some questions before we can say that for sure.

What about the current holders? 

France have done little wrong since winning in 2018 to suggest that their glory was a flash in the pan, and in a group containing European Championship semi-finalists Denmark, they’re still favourites with to overcome all opposition. The French can also call on a deep and versatile squad, and if the pace and guile of Kylian Mbappe isn’t getting things done they have the option to send in the more brutish qualities of Olivier Giroud or Karim Benzema. If you’re betting on the World Cup, it would be brave to discount the big-stage pedigree of the defending champions.

Why is 2022 different?

In 2014, when the competition was held in Brazil, the hope and expectation of home fans was that Neymar would bring the trophy back to South America. In fairness, it was a lot of pressure to place on a 22-year-old, and although his supporting cast was good, it wasn’t great. Neymar is now a veteran of 30, and the players he has around him are better than the selection eight years ago, so Brazil are definitely a better World Cup bet than they have been for a while – but the truth is we’ll only know how good they are when they open their campaign against Serbia.

Why might they not be the best bet?

As good as Gabriel Jesus, Vinicius Junior and co. are, it’s hard not to see some weaknesses in the Selecao. There is a point when experience in defence becomes an ageing liability, and Thiago Silva and Dani Alves may have passed that point. Also, even if they win Group G, which they certainly should ahead of Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon, they’ll likely face a last-16 clash against either Portugal or Uruguay which won’t be easy. Their reward for winning that would be a quarter-final where the most likely opponents are Belgium, Spain and Germany. Given that Brazil have played only once against European opposition since 2018, they may have difficulty traversing a very rough road to the final.

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