We’ve put together a comprehensive World Cup betting guide ahead of Russia 2018, with the 21st renewal of football’s biggest tournament scheduled to run from June 14 to July 15.
This summer’s showpiece event will feature 32 teams, who will compete at 12 venues in 11 cities as all roads lead to the final at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
There is a new twist at every World Cup and this edition’s innovation is the video assistant referee, who can intervene in four match-changing circumstances; goals, penalties, red cards and cases of mistaken identity.
How to bet on the World Cup
We’ve got all the major markets covered on our site, starting with a look at the outright winner odds and which teams are expected to challenge for top honours.
Ten leading contenders are placed in order of preference as our World Cup power rankings pinpoint Brazil as the team to beat when seeking to lift this trophy for the sixth time.
Every match at Russia 2018 will be previewed by our expert editors, who have been keeping up to date with all the latest injury news, plus form from qualifying and warm-up fixtures.
Punters can also check out our value selections on a range of other odds, including the Golden Boot betting on which player will be the leading goalscorer throughout the tournament.
There is a selection for each World Cup group, as we chase a 125/1 accumulator for predicting the table topper in all eight pools.
All to play for in opening exchanges
Uruguay will start as favourites for Group A, with Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez fancied to fire La Celeste past hosts Russia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Spain have returned to form after disappointing at the last two major tournaments and they lead the Group B betting. Portugal will provide stiff opposition, while Iran and Morocco are expected to just make up the numbers.
Group C hotpots France appear to have peaked at just the right time after narrowly failing to claim Euro 2016 glory and they are pitched in with Australia, Denmark and Peru.
Argentina made hard work of qualifying but the 2014 runners-up will be popular in Group D as they do battle with Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria.
Brazil finished 10 points clear in the South American qualifying section and are widely tipped to cruise through Group E, which includes Serbia, Switzerland and Costa Rica.
Defending champions Germany rattled off 10 straight wins on the road to Russia and few will oppose Die Mannschaft with Mexico, Sweden or South Korea in Group F.
Despite under-achieving in the past, Belgium and England are rated as the major players in Group G, with Tunisia and Panama regarded as outsiders to progress.
The Group H odds suggest Colombia and Poland are fancied to advance, but Senegal’s challenge will be spearheaded by Liverpool star Sadio Mane and Japan are no push-overs.
Each country’s prospects are also discussed in individual team pages, right through from the market leaders to the rank outsiders.
The excitement will only increase during the knockout rounds and we’ll have a superb infographic charting how teams will match up in the last 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and the ultimate decider.
World Cup in numbers
We’ve taken a statistical look at Russia 2018 and have picked out these fun facts and figures:
8 – nations to have won the World Cup – Uruguay, Italy, Germany/West Germany, Brazil, England, Argentina, France and Spain.
5 – the last five tournaments have been won by five different countries – from France in 1998, through Brazil, Italy and Spain, to Germany four years ago.
5 – Brazil’s record tally of titles. Germany, whose 2014 triumph added to West Germany’s three, have the chance to equal that mark in Russia.
2 – only two countries have ever retained the trophy, though – Italy in 1938 and Brazil in 1962.
13 – Just Fontaine’s goal tally for France in 1958 remains a World Cup record.
3 – Geoff Hurst’s hat-trick in the final in 1966 is a unique World Cup achievement. It was a “perfect hat-trick” to boot – a header for his first goal, followed by right foot and then left.
17 – Brazil great Pele is the tournament’s youngest goalscorer, announcing himself against Wales in 1958 aged 17 years and 239 days.
2,808km – distance by road between the venues in Sochi and Ekaterinburg – both Peru and Sweden face successive matches in those two stadia, with Sweden’s coming just four days apart and Peru’s five.
749km – total distance by road covering Colombia’s three group games – from Saransk to Kazan and then Samara.
2 – only two of FIFA’s six confederations have provided World Cup-winning teams, with UEFA (Europe) claiming 11 titles and CONMEBOL (South America) nine.
45 – Egypt’s goalkeeper and captain Essam El-Hadary will become the World Cup’s oldest player if he features in Russia, breaking the record of Faryd Mondragon, who was 43 when he played for Colombia in 2014.