Stick your Olympic Games – Sport’s greatest spectacle starts in two days time, when the 2018 World Cup kicks off.
After four long years the wait is almost over and it is safe to assume excitement for a game between Russia and Saudi Arabia has, or will never, be this high!
We can’t look past one of the big three (Spain, Germany or Brazil) winning the tournament and the trio are well represented in our pre-tournament bets.
Spain are the third favourites this summer, however we fancy them for a second World Cup in three tournaments.
A 1-1 draw versus Switzerland aside, they are arguably the in-form nation going into the competition.
They eased through qualification, topping a strong group which included Italy and Israel, however their form in friendlies against elite competition has caught the eye.
They impressed in a 1-1 away to Germany, which followed up with an incredible 6-1 win over a Lionel Messi-less Argentina.
La Roja may have suffered an embarrassing elimination four years ago; however we are backing them to go all the way in Russia.
If there is one consistent in international competition, it is that Germany will always do well!
The last time they failed to make a semi-final in a major tournament was the European Championships of 2004!
Die Mannschaft’s form going into the competition may be poor; however come Sunday 17th May, when they kick off versus Mexico, a return to top form is a given!
Joachim Low has the luxury of leaving numerous big names at home, including Sandro Wagner, Emre Can and the Premier League Young Player of the Year, Leroy Sane.
At odds of longer than evens, there is value in backing Germany to do what they always do!
Gabriel Jesus looks set to get the nod over Roberto Firmino for the centre forward role in the Brazilian National Team this year.
The Manchester City man had a mixed campaign, however is huge upgrade on Fred, who led the line for Selecao, when they hosted the competition four years ago.
At international level, Jesus has an excellent record, scoring 10 in just 17 appearances. Brazil have a favourable group and route to at least the Quarter’s.
In the likely event Jesus keeps Firmino out of the XI, odds of 16/1 represent good value for the 21-year-old.
Germany will ultimately go deep in the tournament and our second tip for top goalscorer is the man likely to start in the no.9 role for Die Mannschaft.
Timo Werner has excelled since joining RB Leipzig two years ago and is reportedly attracting interest from Bayern Munich and Liverpool.
Two of the last three golden boot winners have been German (Miroslav Klose in 2006 & Thomas Muller in 2010) and Werner is the most likely candidate from the holders to be this tournament’s winner.
Another tip at 16/1 is good value, especially if the front runners in Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar fail to deliver.
Our long shot bet for the Golden Boot is Isco of Spain, with the diminutive playmaker thriving since the national team’s appointment of Julen Lopetegui.
10 goals in 26 international matches is a decent return and the Real Madrid man recently bagged a hat-trick in Spain’s 6-1 demolition of Argentina.
James Rodriguez was the surprise golden ball winner in Brazil and there are similarities between the two.
Given how we are backing Spain to go deep, an each way bet at 50/1 looks decent.
Since Tite’s appointment as manager of Brazil, the nation average nearly three goals a game!
With Neymar regaining full fitness to link up with the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Jesus, we can see this trend continuing this summer.
Granted they do not have any whipping boys in the group stage, but if Brazil can get through the first round with six or more, then they will be in real contention for this bet.