Brazil put in a remarkably composed performance to beat Germany 1-0 in their last game and they were immediately installed as World Cup favourites. The last time those teams met Joachim Löw’s men thrashed Brazil.
<p>Brazil put in a remarkably composed performance to beat Germany 1-0 in their last game and they were immediately installed as World Cup favourites. The last time those teams met, Joachim Löw’s men thrashed Brazil 7-1 en route to winning the World Cup in 2014.</p><p>The win in their recent international friendly must therefore have been extremely therapeutic for the Brazilian players who are keen to banish that painful memory. Germany were the outright favourites to defend their crown in Russia this summer, but many bookmakers now have the two teams neck-and-neck in the betting following Brazil’s win, while others have Neymar and Co. as outright favourites.</p><p>Bet Stars and Bet365 will now only go to 4/1 on Brazil, while most bookmakers – including William Hill, Ladbrokes, Sky Bet and Paddy Power – are offering 9/2. Bet Victor, Sun Bets and Black Type have the best price on the market for Brazil to win the World Cup: 5/1. But do they justify their status as World Cup favourites? Are those odds worth taking, and who might be able to stop them seizing glory in Russia this summer?</p><p>Well first of all, it would be foolish to write off Germany’s chances on the back of a friendly defeat. Teams never really give 100% effort in friendlies, managers make plenty of substitutions and all manner of tactical tweaking and tinkering takes place.</p><p>They cruised to victory in last year’s Confederations Cup with a B team, and they have a wealth of superstars to choose from. France are 13/2 with Betway and they have a phenomenal team, with N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba in midfield and the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele in attack.</p><p>Belgium look a good longer shot at 12/1 with Ladbokes, Bet Victor, Sun Bets and Boyle Sports as they have a sensational first team, including Thibaut Courtois, Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld, Kevin De Bruyne, Mousa Dembele, Eden Hazard, Radja Nainggolan and Romelu Lukaku. If they click they could be unstoppable.</p><p>And how about Spain? They have not lost a game in two years, destroyed Italy in qualifying and just thumped Argentina 6-1 in a friendly. Lionel Messi was absent, and the previous points about friendlies still stand, but that is nonetheless an emphatic victory and it illustrates the confidence flowing through a Spain team blessed with a fantastic array of Barcelona and Real Madrid stars.</p><p>Yet despite all that, you have to say that Brazil deserve to be favourites. South American qualification is notoriously difficult as all the teams play against one another, but Brazil breezed through it, finishing 10 points ahead of Uruguay and well clear of Argentina, Colombia, Peru and Chile. The victory over Brazil may be meaningless, but it will do wonders for their confidence heading into the big tournament. Russia will be pretty warm by then, so the samba stars will have no trouble acclimating. And what a brilliant squad they have on paper.</p><p>Neymar, the world’s most expensive player, was missing against Germany, but he should be back to lead the charge in the big tournament. Man City forward Gabriel Jesus showed what a potent attacking weapon he is by heading in the winner against Germany, and he could well end up the tournament’s top scorer. They have a superstar creator in Philippe Coutinho, and a brilliant holding midfielder in Casemiro.</p><p>It is impossible to argue with the pedigree of full-backs Marcelo and Dani Alves, while Thiago Silva and Miranda are solid at the back and they have good options in goal, while the likes of Willian provide strong squad depth. They will take some stopping in Russia this summer. There is greater value to be had in backing Belgium, France or Spain, but Brazil are putting forward a compelling case to be backed for glory.</p>