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World Cup 2018 team guide and betting predictions

Our comprehensive team guide assesses the World Cup outright betting odds and prospects for all 32 teams competing at Russia 2018 this summer and highlights the star man for each team, their previous best World Cup performance and our predictions for their stage of elimination.

Germany

Odds: 19/4

Star player: Toni Kroos

World Cup best: Winners 2014 (West Germany won in 1954, 1974 and 1990)

The reigning champions qualified in style, winning all 10 of their games, scoring 43 goals and conceding only four. Their golden generation is ageing but remains a force and has been enhanced by young blood.

Whether as West Germany or a unified nation, their record at the World Cup finals is astonishing, reaching at least the quarter-finals of every tournament since 1982. With five final appearances in the last nine it would be foolish to ignore Germany in the World Cup betting.

Joachim Low's men don't have the easiest of groups with Sweden and Mexico both inside the world's top 20 at the time of writing and South Korea will be no pushovers, but Germany always find a way to pull through.

Experienced forward Thomas Muller topped the scoring charts in World Cup Group C qualifying with five, but Low has plenty of exciting new players at his disposal like Leroy Sane, Leon Goretzka and Timo Werner.

Prediction: Winners

Brazil

Odds: 5/1

Star player: Neymar

World Cup best: Winners 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002

Five-time World Cup winners Brazil were the first team other than hosts Russia to qualify for the tournament after a very impressive campaign in which they won 12 and drew five of their 18 matches.

Brazil have not made a World Cup final since their last title in 2002 and were humiliated 7-1 by Germany in their own country four years ago, but there are signs of optimism that Tite's side could go deep into the tournament.

Their team will contain the usual flair players like Neymar, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, but Fernandinho, Casemiro and Paulinho will bring steel to the midfield.

Switzerland, Serbia and Costa Rica make up the rest of Group E, teams which have their merits but who are likely to be fighting it out for a runners-up spot for a place in the last 16.

Prediction: Runners-up

France

Odds: 11/2

Star player: Antoine Griezmann

World Cup best: Winners 1998

Knocked out in the quarter-finals in 2014, France have built an impressive squad and will hope to make up for their near-miss on home soil in Euro 2016, when they lost in the final to Portugal.

France qualified for their sixth finals in a row by finishing top of their group with seven wins and two draws putting them four points clear of Sweden.

Their World Cup odds perhaps reflect they have been given an easy draw with Australia, Peru and Denmark standing in their way of a place in the second round.

Didier Deschamps has a wealth of talent at his disposal like strikers Antoine Griezmann, Alexandre Lacazette and Kylian Mbappe, but his midfield and defence are also packed with stars such as Paul Pogba, N'Kolo Kante and Raphael Varane.

Prediction: Semi-finals

Spain

Odds: 6/1

Star player: Isco

World Cup best: Winners 2010

The previously all-conquering Spanish suffered the ignominy of group stage exits at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016.

In Brazil, Spain were destroyed 5-1 by the Netherlands and a 2-0 defeat by Chile meant all they had to show for their efforts was a 3-0 win against Australia.

Spain breezed through qualification with nine wins and a draw in an unbeaten campaign despite having Italy in their group and they could consider themselves unlucky for the finals after being paired with European champions Portugal.

Should they finish second in their group, they will face the winner of Group A which is likely to be either hosts Russia or Uruguay, so they have a chance of reaching the last eight.

Prediction: Quarter-finals

Argentina

Odds: 8/1

Star player: Lionel Messi

World Cup best: Winners 1978, 1986

Reached the final in 2014, but a shambolic qualification campaign meant they needed to beat Ecuador in their final match to avoid missing their first World Cup since 1970.

Despite going a goal down after 38 seconds, a Messi hat-trick ensured Jorge Sampaoli's side went through in third place.

Argentina may struggle to get out of the World Cup group stage with Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria standing in their way and if they finish second they are likely to face France in the round of 16.

Messi, Sergio Aguero and Paulo Dybala mean the South Americans look strong in attack, but apart from Javier Pastore and Nicolas Otamendi they look light in midfield and defence.

Prediction: Group stage

Belgium

Odds: 10/1

Star player: Eden Hazard

World Cup best: Fourth place 1986

Unbeaten in qualifying, Belgium's hugely talented squad will be hoping to build on their quarter-final appearance four years ago having reached the same stage at Euro 2016.

Roberto Martinez's team strolled through their qualification group with nine wins and one draw and can count themselves unlucky they have been drawn in the same group as England.

However, with Panama and Tunisia making up the rest of Group G, the round of 16 is the least of their expectations with players like Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku in their ranks, while Spurs duo Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld will give them a solid foundation at the back.

Likely to face Brazil in the last eight if the seedings behave themselves.

Prediction: Quarter-finals

England

Odds: 14/1

Star player: Harry Kane

World Cup best: Winners 1966

A comfortable qualification campaign did little to boost optimism for England's chances in Russia. This is a first major tournament in charge for Gareth Southgate, with the Three Lions having failed to reach the quarter-finals at the last two World Cups.

However, Panama and Tunisia should not pose too many problems in Group G where Belgium stand out as favourites. Even if England finish runners-up in their group, a winnable round of 16 clash with either Poland or Colombia is likely to await Gareth Southgate's men.

England enjoyed an unbeaten qualification campaign, winning eight of their 10 games, but their World Cup odds of 14/1 reflect the lack of experience and talent to upset a team like Germany, their likely last-eight opponents.

Prediction: Quarter-finals

Portugal

Odds: 20/1

Star player: Cristiano Ronaldo

World Cup best: Third place 1966

The European champions were not dealt a kind hand in the World Cup fixtures after being drawn with 2010 winners Spain.

Portugal only finished top of their qualification group on goal difference from Switzerland despite winning nine of their 10 games and they head into the tournament with FIFA World Cup 2018 odds of 20/1, eighth favourites to win the competition.

Ballon d'Or holder Ronaldo aside, coach Fernando Santos does not have too many household names to call upon, but Milan striker Andre Silva scored nine goals during the qualification campaign, while Manchester City's Bernardo Silva and Leicester's Adrien Silva will join an experienced squad that will be hoping for at least a quarter-final spot.

Prediction: Round of 16

Uruguay

Odds: 33/1

Star player: Luis Suarez

World Cup best: Winners 1930, 1950

Uruguay's last World Cup campaign was overshadowed by Suarez's bite on Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini and expulsion from the tournament but they qualified impressively for Russia and possess undoubted firepower, with Paris St Germain star Edinson Cavani also in their ranks.

Oscar Tabarez's side finished second in South American qualifying, 10 points behind winners Brazil and three ahead of Argentina, but they have the easiest World Cup group of all with Russia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia awaiting them this summer.

Should they make it to the round of 16 for the third tournament in a row, they are likely to face either Portugal or Spain where we expect their campaign to end.

Prediction: Round of 16

Russia

Odds: 40/1

Star player: Fyodor Smolov

World Cup best: First round 1994, 2002, 2014 (Soviet Union finished fourth in 1966)

Qualified automatically as hosts and will be desperate to improve their poor recent record at major tournaments. They have not won a match since Euro 2012 and have not progressed from the World Cup group stage since the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Russia hosted the Confederations Cup last year and lost to both Mexico and Portugal, who are potential round-of-16 opponents.

Still a work in progress and unlikely to cause a stir even with a relatively easy group and a vocal support behind them.

Prediction: Round of 16

Croatia

Odds: 40/1

Star player: Ivan Rakitic

World Cup best: Third place 1998

Rakitic, Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic make for one of the most creative midfields in the tournament but Croatia have failed to make it out of their group on their last three appearances since reaching the semi-finals at France 98.

However, there have been some surprising semi-finalists since the turn of the century, including Turkey and South Korea in 2002, and Uruguay in 2010. Croatia's World Cup odds of 40/1 look good value and they will hope to reproduce their impressive run of 20 years ago, despite having to beat Greece in a play-off to qualify when new coach Zlatko Dalic masterminded a 4-1 victory.

Croatia finished behind Iceland in qualification and the two nations will go head-to-head again, with out-of-sorts Argentina and Nigeria making up the rest of Group D. Win the group and Denmark and Portugal are potentially in the way of a last-four spot.

Prediction: Semi-finals

Colombia

Odds: 40/1

Star player: Radamel Falcao

World Cup best: Quarter-finals 2014

Colombia's star has waned a little since their brilliant showing in 2014, when they reached the last eight and were narrowly and controversially beaten by Brazil.

Finished fourth in South American qualifying when they failed to win any of their final four matches.

Falcao, James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado will be key to Colombia's success against Poland, Senegal and Japan, and should they make it out of the World Cup group stage, a clash with either Belgium or England awaits.

Prediction: Round of 16

Poland

Odds: 50/1

Star player: Robert Lewandowski

World Cup best: Third place 1974, 1982

Poland are back at the World Cup finals for the first time since 2006 after comfortably topping their qualifying group. The last time they progressed beyond the group stages was 1986.

Adam Nawalka's side have a good chance of making it to the quarter-finals, especially with a player of Lewandowski's quality in their ranks.

The Bayern Munich striker was the top scorer in European qualification with 16 goals and he will have one eye on the Golden Boot with the likes of Senegal, Japan and Colombia in the group stage. Poland are potential last-16 opponents for England, but their World Cup betting odds of 50/1 certainly look better value.

Prediction: Round of 16

Denmark

Odds: 80/1

Star player: Christian Eriksen

World Cup best: Quarter-finals 1988

Denmark failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and needed an Eriksen hat-trick in their play-off victory against the Republic of Ireland to get through this time.

Eriksen bagged 11 goals during qualification, including his treble against Ireland, and was the third highest scorer during the group phase.

The Danes failed to get out of their group on their last appearance in 2010, but will be confident of booking a last-16 spot with World Cup fixtures against Australia and Peru likely to determine which country finishes runner-up to France.

Prediction: Round of 16

Mexico

Odds: 100/1

Star player: Javier Hernandez

World Cup best: Quarter-finals 1970, 1986

Mexico are traditionally the strongest team in the CONCACAF region and again qualified comfortably. They have reached the second round at the last six tournaments without once going further.

Juan Carlos Osario's team finished five points clear of England's opponents Costa Rica in qualifying, but were destroyed 7-0 by Chile at the Copa America Centenario and 4-1 by Germany in the Confederations Cup.

Prediction: Round of 16

Egypt

Odds: 100/1

Star player: Mo Salah

World Cup best: First round 1934, 1990

Egypt will make only their third appearance at a World Cup finals and their first since 1990 after booking their place in Russia with victory over Congo. Runners-up to Cameroon in this year's African Nations Cup.

Salah is expected to provide the spark in a side that has a defence-minded reputation under former Argentina coach Hector Cuper.

Prediction: Group stage

Sweden

Odds: 100/1

Star player: Emil Forsberg

World Cup best: Runners-up 1958

The team that eliminated Italy in the play-offs will have their eyes on another major scalp. Sweden finished ahead of 2014 finalists Holland in their qualifying group, then kept the four-time winners scoreless in a two-legged play-off.

Janne Andersson has made the Scandinavians well organised and tough to beat, while RB Leipzig winger Forsberg ensures they carry a threat on the break.

The Swedes are in the nearest thing to a 'Group of Death' alongside Germany, Mexico and South Korea.

Prediction: Group stage

Switzerland

Odds: 100/1

Star player: Xherdan Shaqiri

World Cup best: Quarter-finals 1934, 1938, 1954

Probably the best value of the teams with World Cup 2018 odds in triple figures after going toe-to-toe with Portugal during the qualifying campaign.

Qualified for their fourth straight World Cup by beating Northern Ireland in a play-off via a controversial penalty. The Swiss have made it out of their group in two of the previous three tournaments and their clash with Serbia is likely to determine whether they do so again.

Prediction: Round of 16

Serbia

Odds: 125/1

Star player: Nemanja Matic

World Cup best: First round 2010 (Yugoslavia finished fourth in 1930 and 1962, Serbia and Montenegro reached the second round in 1998)

Qualifying for a first major tournament since the 2010 World Cup was not enough to save manager Slavoljub Muslin from the sack. Finished top of a group featuring the Republic of Ireland and Wales.

Muslin was dismissed in a row with the head of the Serbian FA over the exclusion of Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who has since returned to the fold under new coach Mladen Krstajic.

Prediction: Group stage

Japan

Odds: 150/1

Star player: Maya Yoshida

World Cup best: Second round 2002, 2010

Will be appearing at their sixth consecutive World Cup finals after winning their qualification group. Did not win any of their three group games at the 2014 tournament.

Coach Vahid Halilhodzic steered both Costa Rica and Algeria to the last two World Cups, but star players Keisuke Honda, Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki have been controversially left out in the cold.

Prediction: Group stage

Senegal

Odds: 150/1

Star player: Sadio Mane

World Cup best: Quarter-final 2002

Senegal memorably beat France at the 2002 World Cup but missed the next three editions of the tournament before securing their return by beating South Africa in a replayed group match. The original result was annulled after referee Joseph Lamptey was expelled by FIFA.

Much will depend on how Mane performs, but Premier League lovers will recognise many of their players like West Ham duo Cheikhou Kouyate and Diafro Sakho, plus Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye. Certainly in with a chance of reaching the knockout stage.

Prediction: Group stage

Peru

Odds: 150/1

Star player: Paolo Guerrero

World Cup best: Quarter-final 1970

Peru had not qualified for the World Cup since 1982, but finally booked the last spot in Russia with a 2-0 victory over New Zealand in the second leg of their play-off.

They finished their qualifying campaign strongly with a six-match unbeaten run which included draws against Argentina and Colombia, plus a win against Uruguay. Outsiders for a round-of-16 spot.

Prediction: Group stage

Australia

Odds: 200/1

Star player: Aaron Mooy

World Cup best: Second round 2006

Ange Postecoglou resigned after steering Australia to the World Cup following a two-legged play-off victory over Honduras and the post remains vacant.

The Socceroos lost all three games in Brazil, but a kind draw against Peru and Denmark means they could do better this time.

Prediction: Group stage

Nigeria

Odds: 200/1

Star player: Victor Moses

World Cup best: Second round 1994, 1998, 2014

Qualified with a game to spare and came back from two goals down to defeat Group D opponents Argentina 4-2 in a friendly in November.

The Super Eagles have only missed one of the last seven finals, but their first victory came against Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2014. World Cup odds of 200/1 look generous for a team in a wide-open group.

Prediction: Quarter-finals

Iceland

Odds: 200/1

Star player: Gylfi Sigurdsson

World Cup best: Debut

The smallest nation by population ever to qualify for the World Cup finals, Iceland followed up their Euro 2016 heroics by topping a group featuring Croatia, Ukraine and Turkey.

Heimir Hallgrimsson will have the same squad that performed so well in France and an interesting draw against Argentina, Croatia and Nigeria means they have every chance of getting out of the World Cup group stage.

Prediction: Group stage

South Korea

Odds: 300/1

Star player: Son Heung-min

World Cup best: Fourth place 2002

South Korea qualified for their ninth consecutive World Cup finals despite an indifferent campaign. They have only won two matches since finishing fourth as co-hosts in 2002.

Will be lucky to get a point from their 2018 World Cup campaign with Brazil, Mexico and Sweden lying in wait.

Prediction: Group stage

Morocco

Odds: 300/1

Star player: Medhi Benatia

World Cup best: Second round 1986

Well-travelled coach Herve Renard will have relished beating his former employers the Ivory Coast to top spot in a tough qualifying group.

The north Africans are back at the finals for the first time since 1998, but with World Cup fixtures against Portugal and Spain in the group stage it is likely to end in an early flight home.

Prediction: Group stage

Costa Rica

Odds: 300/1

Star player: Keylor Navas

World Cup best: Quarter-finals 2014

Finished second in CONCACAF qualifying, with the highlight being a 4-0 victory over the United States. Will be hard pushed to match their 2014 performance, when they beat Italy, Uruguay and Greece before losing to Holland on penalties.

Brazil, Switzerland and Serbia should be a step too far for Costa Rica, who drew 0-0 with England in Brazil.

Prediction: Group stage

Iran

Odds: 300/1

Star player: Sardar Azmoun

World Cup best: First round 1978, 1998, 2006, 2014

This will be Iran's fourth appearance from the last six World Cup finals, but their only victory came against the United States in 1998. Won their final qualifying group ahead of South Korea with 12 consecutive clean sheets.

Best hope is finishing ahead of Morocco in a group containing Portugal and Spain.

Prediction: Group stage

Panama

Odds: 500/1

Star player: Gabriel Torres

World Cup best: Debut

Panama have been edging closer to reaching the World Cup finals for the first time in recent tournaments and crossed the line this time thanks to a last-gasp 2-1 victory over Costa Rica in their final qualifier.

With their first two matches against Belgium and England, Hernan Dario Gomez's side could already be out by the time they face Tunisia. World Cup betting odds of 500/1 tells you about their chances.

Prediction: Group stage

Saudi Arabia

Odds: 500/1

Star player: Mohammad Al Sahlawi

World Cup best: Second round 1994

After qualifying for four consecutive tournaments between 1994 and 2006, Saudi Arabia missed out in 2010 and 2014 but are back after finishing ahead of Australia in their qualifying group.

The lowest-ranked qualifiers sacked Argentinian coach Edgardo Bauza in November and brought in his compatriot Juan Antonio Pizzi just before the draw.

Prediction: Group stage

Tunisia

Odds: 500/1

Star player: Wahbi Khazri

World Cup best: Group stage 1978, 1998, 2002 and 2006

After appearing at three consecutive finals without winning a single group game, Tunisia missed the last two editions. Unbeaten in qualifying, they advanced with a last-round draw against Libya to pip DR Congo by a point with a squad comprised largely of Tunisia-based players.

Prediction: Group stage

#CALLIT
Warren Barner
@warren_barner in World Cup