European and South American teams have dominated the World Cup throughout its history, but no team from CONMEBOL has won since 2002. So, will Europe have another World Cup winner?
Who do Bettors Favor?
We can see from the best-rated online sportsbooks that World Cup bettors are heavily favoring European teams at this year’s World Cup. The odds on the winning team coming from UEFA are as short as -330 in some places. South America is the closest challenger at around +250, while there has been some limited support for the CONCACAF and CAF teams from North America and Africa.
Betting on the Winning Confederation
There have been 21 World Cup Finals and in each case, the trophy was won by a team from Europe or South America. Brazil (5), Argentina (2) and Uruguay (2) are the CONMEBOL winners while UEFA has produced five different winners: Germany (4), Italy (4), France (2), Spain (1) and England (1).
Based on numbers alone, it is clear to see why Europe is rated as the most likely winning continent. There are 13 UEFA teams in this tournament, compared to just four from South America. By contrast, Asia has six teams in the competition, although that is down to the fact that Qatar qualifies automatically as hosts and that Australia beat Peru in their playoff contest.
While they are short on numbers, South America can boast two of the top three teams in the world in Brazil and Argentina and another team – Uruguay – who are often extremely difficult to beat. Both Argentina and Brazil are in good form going into the tournament, and with the tournament likely to be played out in extreme heat and humidity, teams from northern Europe may not be able to produce their best. So, despite only having two serious contenders, South America could be a good bet here.
Spain a Good Option for Top UEFA Team
Aside from the Federation betting markets, there are some interesting opportunities to be found among the intra-continental futures markets, based around which team will fare best.
France dominate the betting for the UEFA market, with England in second place, but there are suggestions that all might not be well in the French camp, while England have been struggling for form in recent months, so Spain might offer more value here.
Spain have been improving consistently under Luis Enrique and have a squad that is full of talented young players. Although they are in a relatively tough Group along with Germany, they will expect to beat Costa Rica and Japan and that would be enough to see them progress to the Round of 16.
The Spanish squad may also be less affected by the heat than some of their northern European rivals, so at bigger odds than either England or France, they look a good option to finish as top UEFA team.
Argentina Offer Value as Top CONMEBOL Team
The South American contingent is dominated by Brazil and Argentina, and Brazil are the strong favorites here, which is not surprising given that they won the CONMEBOL qualifying tournament and have a frightening array of talented forwards, including Neymar, Richarlison, Vinicius Junior and Gabriel Jesus.
Still, Argentina have some talented players of their own, along with a solid defense, and above all, they have a motivated Lionel Messi. Winning the Copa America – the first trophy that Messi has lifted while playing for Argentina – seems to have given him a new enthusiasm for international football and this could be the tournament when Messi finally gets the biggest prize of all.
World Cup Betting on the Minor Federations
Africa remains the continent most likely to break the South America-Europe dominance, but this year the two North African teams may have the edge on their continental rivals. Both Tunisia and Morocco played in last year’s Arab Cup staged in Qatar, and of the two, Morocco are marginally preferred after they won all of their Group games and went out to eventual winners Algeria on penalties.
With doubts about how well the young Canadian and USMNT teams will cope with the conditions, it is tempting to opt for Costa Rica over inconsistent Mexico, but the Costa Ricans will have to earn a result against one of the big guns in their Group campaign, so Mexico looks the safer option.
Finally, in the third of the minor federations, the host nation Qatar are a good bet. Japan and South Korea may struggle in the conditions, while there is not much to choose between the remaining Asian contenders, so home advantage could prove to be the difference here.