As players grapple with probability theories ahead of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the usual suspects in world football are reappearing as objects of their imaginations.
The favorites tag sticks to these teams like glue as these powerhouses are factories that produce football talent in droves.
In the 21 World Cups so far, 13 of the golden trophies have gone to four nations. Brazil and Germany have won five and four World Cups respectively, Argentina and France have won two.
European champions Italy, who would have made that list with the glory of four World Cup wins, have not qualified for the second year in a row.
Latin American champions Argentina also gave them a 3-0 victory in the Finalissima – a marquee duel between European and Latin American champions.
So let’s tap into a bettor’s mindset to figure out which teams will stand out. At least on paper. This is a subjective journey to the core.
A look into the fortunes of one of these fabulous teams should delve into the production line of talent.
We believe that the local leagues are the reservoirs that produce football talent en masse in these nations.
More importantly, we’re leaving out a handful of teams – Spain, England, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium – who could decide the issue any day.
Brazil have proven their intention by calling up nine forwards from their 26-man squad. An obvious reading of coach Tite’s favorite side’s bias would be biased towards an attacking eleven.
Attacking play has always been Brazil’s coveted swag.
The Brazilians can never stop flaunting it, even if it means that obsession has paved the way for a sometimes shaky defence. With this World Cup line-up, Tite has made an effort to strengthen the pores in defense. And the midfielders would have no qualms about stepping up an attacking wave. Forwards of Neymar’s caliber won’t hesitate to drop anchor either. Punters would have a hard time looking at other favorites if they overlook the five-time world champions, the only team to have played in all editions of the World Cup.
With seven appearances in World Cups and five trophies, why would you risk skipping the Selecao?
Germany’s precision game
The team means The Team. Make no mistake, it’s the nickname of the German soccer team. Germany is a precision football production line.
That is why four world championships adorn the black, red and gold tricolor of the federal flag. The Germans were also present at eight World Cup finals, a celebration that even Brazil has not reached.
The assembly line approach in Germany has its roots in the Bundesliga, the country’s top football division.
Regardless of form or placement, one moonshot thinking propelling Germany as evergreen title contenders is his unyielding faith in the German league.
Consider: Of the 26-strong German World Cup squad, only six play for foreign clubs.
And seven, including three strikers, come from the local top club Bayern Munich.
This essentially means they groove together phenomenally, a quality none of the top competitors can claim.
Coach Hansi Flick, former Bayern manager, has probably discovered a lucky charm in Jamal Musiala, 19, also from FC Bayern.
Strain from Les Blues
The burden of the titleholders will weigh on any world-class team. The overwhelming challenge for Les Blues will be to rip apart the burden of expectations.
The last time a team won two consecutive World Cups was Brazil in 1958 and 62, after Italy’s 1934–38 triumphs.
After the advent of various powerhouses, no team has been able to emulate this feat.
However, Didier Deschamps’ France still features among the teams punters are betting on in Qatar – along with the teams mentioned above. Les Blues have an impressive forward line-up led by Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe, who plays for PSG in Ligue 1 alongside Leo Messi.
But the midfield, linchpin of the game, could not have relied on tried and tested feet. This could prove to be a problem area for the reigning world champions.
For Les Blues, despite all the disadvantages, no prizes can be bet for prediction players.
La Albiceleste & Mountain of Hopes
Like Les Blues, Argentina carried a heavy load of expectations after Qatar. This will be Lionel Messi’s swan song at the World Cup and La Albiceleste must live up to the lofty hopes of fans around the world, not just at home.
Fans may be looking for the World Cup for Messi if not Argentina, but the crowning achievement is a gargantuan task. Agreed, the team went 35 games unbeaten and capped off a 3-0 win over European champions Italy in Finalissima.
The 5-0 friendly against UAE was Argentina’s 36th unbeaten game.
The problem with Argentina during the Messi era is their inability to break free when their talisman is tied by opponents.
Scaloni seems set on assembling a team of other match winners who can complement Messi and not just look up to his magic all the time.
Of the 26 players, only Franco Armani plays for an Argentine club – River Plate. On the other hand, as a team, the Argentines have always been a conglomerate of highly skilled players trying their hand at various European leagues. So it all boils down to how Argentines can gel.
Continue to play
Players may only skip the above teams at their own risk. But that’s what they do best: expect the unexpected. Keep playing players, but why isn’t anyone betting on an Asian team? You may not need to look at the history dashboards, form guides, and individual stats dashboards to find out.