World Cup Teams Ranked

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Panama’s football team poses during their FIFA World Cup 2018 CONCACAF qualifiers football match in Mexico City, on September 1, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Pedro Pardo

Panama

Qualifying route: CONCACAF Fifth Round third place

Odds: 1,001.00

FIFA World Ranking #55

Panama will be competing at the World Cup for the first time in history after emerging as the surprise package in CONCACAF qualifying.

The Central American side managed to draw with the United States and Costa Rica in the qualification process, results which helped them secure a third-place finish.

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MOSCOW, RUSSIA – JUNE 13: Saudi Arabia Sports Minister Turki al-Sheikh greets players during a Saudi Arabia training session ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup opening match against Russia at Luzhniki Stadium on June 13, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia

Qualifying route: AFC Third Round Group B runners-up

Odds: 1,001.00

FIFA World Ranking #67

Saudi Arabia are back in the World Cup after failing to qualify for the previous two editions and the draw has placed them in Group A alongside Uruguay, Egypt and tournament hosts Russia.

Managed by Juan Antonio Pizzi, who steered Chile to the final of the Confederations Cup, they face a difficult fight to qualify from the group and their odds reflect that.

However, if players such as Salem Al-Dawsari and Yahya Al-Shehri play to their potential, Pizzi’s side could spring an upset or two.

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Players of the Tunisian national football team celebrate with their national flag after qualifying for the 2018 World Cup finals after drawing their qualifiers match against Libya at the Rades Olympic Stadium in the capital Tunis on November 11, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID

Tunisia

Qualifying route: CAF Group A winners

Odds: 751.00

FIFA World Ranking #21

Tunisia find themselves up against it in Group G alongside Belgium, England, and Panama.

The North African men breezed through qualification to book their place in Russia, but they will have to step things up a gear if they are to have a chance of progressing – something they have failed to do on four previous occasions.

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Players of South Korea’s National team pose for a team picture before their international friendly football match between South Korea and Bolivia at Tivoli stadium in Innsbruck, Austria on June 07, 2018. Top row (from L-R) South Korea’s goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu, South Korea’s forward Kim Shin-wook, South Korea’s defender Jang Hyun-soo, South Korea’s midfielder Jung Woo-young, South Korea’s defender Kim Young-gwon, South Korea’s midfielder Ki Sung-yueng. Bottom row (L-R) South Korea’s defender Lee Yong, South Korea’s midfielder Moon Seon-min, South Korea’s forward Hwang Hee-chan and South Korea’s midfielder Lee Seung-woo.
/ AFP PHOTO / VLADIMIR SIMICEK

South Korea

Qualifying route: AFC Third Round Group A runners-up

Odds: 751.00

FIFA World Ranking #57

South Korea have qualified for the last eight World Cups, reaching the semi-finals as hosts in 2002 and progressing to the last 16 in 2010, but history suggests that they will struggle to make an impact in Russia this summer.

Placed in Group F with Mexico, Germany, and Sweden, their chances of progressing look slim and it will be a surprise if they emerge in the last 16.

Tottenham star Heung-min Son is a quality forward, but the 25-year-old simply does not have enough similarly talented collaborators around him.

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Morocco’s team players celebrate a goal at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium in Abidjan on November 11, 2017, during the FIFA World Cup 2018 Africa Group C qualifying football match between Ivory Coast and Morocco. / AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO

Morocco

Qualifying route: CAF Group C winners

Odds: 501.00

FIFA World Ranking #41

Having been drawn with Spain, Portugal, and Iran, Morocco’s chances of reaching the knock-out stage are not looking good, but they will be hopeful of sneaking a couple of positive results.

Head coach Herve Renard has returned them to the global stage for the first time since 1998 and he will be eager to cement his legacy by emulating the team of 1986, which reached the last 16 – incidentally beating Portugal in the process.

However, anything further than that is highly unlikely.

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TEHRAN, IRAN – MARCH 28: Mehdi Taremi celebrates ofter the first goal during Iran against China PR – FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier on March 28, 2017 in Tehran, Iran. (Photo by Amin M. Jamali/Getty Images)

Iran

Qualifying route: AFC Third Round Group A winners

Odds: 501.00

FIFA World Ranking #37

In the four appearances, Iran have made at previous tournaments, they have finished bottom of their group on three occasions, winning just one game out of 12, so history is not on their side.

However, they have an experienced coach at the helm in the form of Carlos Queiroz, who will attempt to make amends for a poor showing in Brazil four years ago.

While they do not necessarily boast any household names in their squad, Eredivisie stars Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Reza Ghoochannejhad, along with Rubin Kazan forward Sardar Azmoun, boast plenty of ability.

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HARRISON, NJ – SEPTEMBER 01: Keylor Navas #1 of Costa Rica protects the ball against the United States during their match at Red Bull Arena on September 1, 2017 in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Costa Rica

Qualifying route: CONCACAF Fifth Round second place

Odds: 501.00

FIFA World Ranking #23

Costa Rica reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup after topping the group of death ahead of England, Italy and Uruguay. However, a repeat of that feat seems unlikely in 2018.

Los Ticos still possess the likes of Keylor Navas and Bryan Ruiz in their squad, but those players are now past the peak of their powers. Indeed, their preparation for Russia has shown them to be inconsistent and they have lost four of their six post-qualification games, which does not bode well.

Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland lie in wait, so they will have to improve if they want to qualify for the knock-out stage.

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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – OCTOBER 10: Tim Cahill of Australia celebrates after scoring his teams second goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Asian Playoff match between the Australian Socceroos and Syria at ANZ Stadium on October 10, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Australia

Qualifying route: Inter-confederational play-off winners

Odds: 301.00

FIFA World Ranking #36

In Bert van Marwijk, Australia have a new coach steering their fortunes heading into the World Cup and they will be confident in their ability to clinch one of the two qualification places in Group C, but it won’t be straightforward.

The Socceroos will face off against France, Denmark, and Peru in the first stage, all of which pose serious threats. Van Marwijk will be relying on his side to remain disciplined, but, in the absence of an established goalscorer – other than 38-year-old Tim Cahill – it may prove difficult to find the back of the net.

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(L-R) Japan’s midfielder Gaku Shibasaki, goalscorer Japan’s midfielder Takashi Inui and Japan’s midfielder Hotaru Yamaguchi celebrate after the first goal for Japan during the World Cup during the international friendly football match between Japan and Paraguay in Innsbruck, Austria, on June 12, 2018.
/ AFP PHOTO / Christof STACHE

Japan

Qualifying route: AFC Third Round Group B winners

Odds: 301.00

FIFA World Ranking #61

Japan have a good chance of reaching the last 16 of the World Cup, but they are likely to struggle to go any further in the tournament.

With the likes of Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki in their squad, Samurai Blue will feel they can finish in the top two in Group H, which also contains Colombia, Poland, and Senegal.

Their form in the build-up to the tournament has been poor, however, and coach Akira Nishino will need to rectify the issues if they are to progress.

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Iceland’s players celebrate after the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification football match between Iceland and Kosovo in Reykjavik, Iceland on October 9, 2017.
Iceland qualified for the FIFA World Cup 2018 as smallest country ever after beating Kosovo 2-0 at home in Reykjavik. / AFP PHOTO / Haraldur Gudjonsson / ALTERNATIVE CROP

Iceland

Qualifying route: UEFA Group I winners

Odds: 201.00

FIFA World Ranking #22

With a population of just over 350,000, Iceland are defying the odds by competing at the World Cup, reaching the tournament for the first time in their history. Remarkably, they did so by topping a qualification group containing Croatia, Ukraine and Turkey.

They’ve been placed in a group with Argentina, Nigeria and familiar foes Croatia, which should make for some interesting match-ups.

Qualification from the group is certainly achievable – as they showed at Euro 2016 – but their pre-tournament form since qualifying has been dismal, which is a concern.

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Serbian players pose for the team photo prior to the international friendly football match Serbia v Chile at the Merkur Arena in Graz, Austria on June 4, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR

Serbia

Qualifying route: UEFA Group D winners

Odds: 201.00

FIFA World Ranking #34

Serbia appear to be rejuvenated after enduring a difficult number of years, which saw them miss out on the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016.

Having topped UEFA qualifying Group D ahead of the Republic of Ireland and Wales, Serbia will take on Brazil, Costa Rica and Switzerland in Russia.

The likes of Dusan Tadic, Nemanja Matic, and Aleksandar Kolarov are all highly experienced and will be eager to make up for the barren period.

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LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 02: Raheem Sterling of England is challenged by Tyronne Ebuehi and Kenneth Omeruo of Nigeria, and appeals for a penalty after falling to the ground during the International Friendly match between England and Nigeria at Wembley Stadium on June 2, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Nigeria

Qualifying route: CAF Group B winners

Odds: 201.00

FIFA World Ranking #48

Nigeria have a rich history at the World Cup but they haven’t been able to live up to expectations on the world stage, often falling short.

They’ll be competing in the tournament for the sixth time in Russia, but have landed in a difficult group alongside Croatia, Iceland and – once again – Argentina.

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HARRISON, NJ – MARCH 27: Jefferson Farfan #10 of Peru celebrates after scoring the third goal of his team against Iceland in an International Friendly match at Red Bull Arena on March 27, 2018 in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

Peru

Qualifying route: Inter-confederational play-off winners

Odds: 201.00

FIFA World Ranking #11

Peru are back at the World Cup for the first time since 1982 and the South American side will be eager to do their country proud in Russia.

Los Incas finished fifth in CONMEBOL qualification, marginally behind Argentina and Colombia, and they booked their place in the finals by beating New Zealand in the inter-confederational play-off.

France, Australia and Denmark are their opponents in Group C and their chances of progression have been boosted by the confirmation that Paolo Guerrero is available to play.

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Egypt’s Essam El-Hadary celebrates wining against Congo’s team during their World Cup 2018 Africa qualifying match between Egypt and Congo at the Borg el-Arab stadium in Alexandria on October 8, 2017.
Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah converted a stoppage-time penalty to give Egypt a dramatic 2-1 win over Congo Brazzaville Sunday and a place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. / AFP PHOTO / TAREK ABDEL HAMID

Egypt

Qualifying route: CAF Group E winners

Odds: 201.00

FIFA World Ranking #45

Out of all the African teams competing at the World Cup, Egypt may be the best equipped to go furthest. The reason? Two words: Mohamed Salah.

Of course, the Liverpool star is facing a desperate race to regain full fitness after being injured in the Champions League final, but, should he show up, the Pharaohs will be a force to be reckoned with.

They have a good chance of getting out of their group too, with Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay to play in Group A.

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KALUGA, RUSSIA – JUNE 13: l-r Moussa Wague, Cheikhou Koyate, Lamine Gassama, Ismaila Sarr and Alfred Ndiaye of Senegal pose for a portrait during the official FIFA World Cup 2018 portrait session at the Team Hotel on June 13, 2018 in Kaluga, Russia. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Senegal

Qualifying route: CAF Group D winners

Odds: 201.00

FIFA World Ranking #27

Senegal were comfortable winners of CAF Group D, going unbeaten against Burkina Faso, Cape Verde and South Africa to qualify for the World Cup for just the second time in their history.

It has been 16 years since the Lions last reached the tournament and they will be hopeful of emulating the team that reached the quarter-finals in Japan & Korea.

They come up against a tough trio of opponents in Group H, though, with Colombia, Japan and Poland waiting for them in Russia.

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SOLNA, SWEDEN – NOVEMBER 10: Jakob Johansson of Sweden celebrates (obscure) scoring his sides first goal with his team mates during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-Off: First Leg between Sweden and Italy at Friends arena on November 10, 2017 in Solna, Sweden. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Sweden

Qualifying route: UEFA play-off winners

Odds: 151.00

FIFA World Ranking #24

Sweden booked their place at the 2018 World Cup at the expense of Italy and they were very much deserving of their triumph.

Despite being without the star quality of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Janne Andersson’s men have formed a reliable unit and they have the ability to cause problems for the opposition.

They come up against the reigning champions Germany, as well as Mexico and South Korea in Group F.

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Denmark’s Christian Eriksen (L) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification football match between Denmark and Romania in Copenhagen on October 8, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Scanpix Denmark / Liselotte Sabroe / Denmark OUT

Denmark

Qualifying route: UEFA play-off winners

Odds: 101.00

FIFA World Ranking #12

Despite requiring a play-off to seal qualification, Denmark will have their eyes on reaching he knock-out stages and, with Christian Eriksen in their squad, they cannot be underestimated at the World Cup.

Age Hareide’s men will come up against France, Peru and Australia in Group C

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BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND – NOVEMBER 09: The Switzerland squad line up prior to the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-Off: First Leg between Northern Ireland and Switzerland at Windsor Park on November 9, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Switzerland

Qualifying route: UEFA play-off winners

Odds: 101.00

FIFA World Ranking #6

They are not a traditional European football superpower, but Switzerland have become one of the most consistent teams in world football over the past two decades and, with the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka in their squad, they are not short of quality either.

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MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – MARCH 24: Players of Mexico gather prior the fifth round match between Mexico and Costa Rica as part of the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifiers at Azteca Stadium on March 24 , 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/LatinContent/Getty Images)

Mexico

Qualifying route: CONCACAF Fifth Round first place

Odds: 101.00

FIFA World Ranking #15

Mexico may not be among the favourites to win the World Cup, but Juan Carlos Osorio’s men should certainly be considered ‘dark horses’, capable of going far into the knock-out stages.

El Tri have made a habit of getting out of the group stage at the tournament and they will be aiming to continue that in Russia, but they will face stern opposition from Sweden, South Korea and reigning champions Germany.

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Poland’s national team poses for photographers before the international friendly football match between Poland and Lithuania in Warsaw, Poland, on June 12, 2018.
/ AFP PHOTO / JANEK SKARZYNSKI

Poland

Qualifying route: UEFA Group E winners

Odds: 67.00

FIFA World Ranking #8

Poland are not expected to be in the mix in the final stages of the World Cup, but they could spring a few surprises in Russia this summer.

Indeed, the Eagles topped their qualification group, pipping Denmark, and they possess arguably the best striker in the world: Robert Lewandowski.

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Russia’s players players pose for the team photo prior to the international friendly football match Austria v Russia at the Tivoli stadium in Innsbruck on May 30, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / APA / Johann GRODER / Austria OUT

Russia

Qualifying route: Hosts

Odds: 41.00

FIFA World Ranking #70

Russia have waned as a football powerhouse in recent years and their performances at major tournaments have been testimony to that, having exited the group stage of the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 without registering a single victory.

Nevertheless, they are the tournament hosts and history has shown that teams frequently become sufficiently energised by the home support to mount creditable campaigns. Indeed, the fact that the hosts have won the World Cup six times will surely help to inspire the home side.

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BARRANQUILLA, COLOMBIA – OCTOBER 11: Abel Aguilar of Colombia celebrates after scoring the opening goal during a match between Colombia and Uruguay as part of FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifiers at Roberto Melendez Stadium on October 11, 2016 in Barranquilla, Colombia. (Photo by Gabriel Aponte/LatinContent/Getty Images)

Colombia

Qualifying route: CONMEBOL fourth place

Odds: 41.00

FIFA World Ranking #16

Colombia enjoyed a memorable tournament in Brazil four years ago as they reached the quarter-finals and they will be hoping for a similar outcome in Russia, if not better.

The likes of James Rodriguez, Radamel Falcao, and Juan Cuadrado form a dangerous attacking unit which is capable of striking fear into any defense.

However, they will first have to overcome Senegal, Poland, and Japan in Group H if they are to emulate their 2014 journey.

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Croatia’s players celebrate after winning the World Cup 2018 play-off football match Greece vs Croatia, on November 12, 2017 in Piraeus. / AFP PHOTO / LOUISA GOULIAMAKI

Croatia

Qualifying route: UEFA play-off winners

Odds: 34.00

FIFA World Ranking #20

With the likes of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic in their squad, Croatia are a team capable of going toe-to-toe with some of the best teams in the world and they will be eager to show that in Russia after exiting at the group stage in Brazil four years ago.

Perennial ‘dark horses’, they’ve been grouped with Argentina, Nigeria, and Iceland – who actually beat them to automatic qualification.

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Uruguay’s Luis Suarez (L) passes the ball past Chile’s Gonzalo Jara during their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier football match in Santiago, on November 15, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Martin BERNETTI

Uruguay

Qualifying route: CONMEBOL runners-up

Odds: 29.00

FIFA World Ranking #14

Two-time World Cup winners Uruguay have consistently impressed at the tournament, regularly reaching the knock-out stages.

In Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani they possess two of the best strikers in world football, while Diego Godin is widely admired as one of the best defenders around too.

That level of ability and experience will stand them in good stead as they seek to qualify from Group A and make an impact in Russia.

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Portuguese forward Goncalo Guedes (2L) celebrates with teammates defender Pepe (L) and forward Cristiano Ronaldo (R) after scoring a goal during the friendly football match between Portugal and Algeria, on June 7, 2018 at the Luz stadium in Lisbon. / AFP PHOTO / JOSE MANUEL RIBEIRO

Portugal

Qualifying route: UEFA Group B winners

Odds: 23.00

FIFA World Ranking #4

Portugal arrive in Russia as European champions, yet they are still considered to be among the outsiders to win the World Cup.

Their performances in recent editions have been abysmal, with even Cristiano Ronaldo struggling to make his presence felt.

However, they cannot be written off and Ronaldo will be desperate to finally add the one trophy that has eluded him to his cabinet.

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LEEDS, ENGLAND – JUNE 07: Marcus Rashford of England celebrates with Phil Jones, Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold of England during the International Friendly match between England and Costa Rica at Elland Road on June 7, 2018 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

England

Qualifying route: UEFA Group F winners

Odds: 17.00

FIFA World Ranking #12

Unlike previous years, England arrive in Russia for the World Cup with very little expected of them at the tournament.

While teams of the past have been heralded as potential winners, Gareth Southgate’s men are firmly considered to be outsiders and that may actually suit them.

Newly instated captain Harry Kane is one of the best strikers in the world and any Three Lions success will inevitably revolve around the Tottenham star’s ability to hit the back of the net.

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Belgium’s players jubilate after winning at the end of the World Cup 2018 football qualification match between Belgium and Estonia on November 13, 2016 at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels. / AFP PHOTO / EMMANUEL DUNAND

Belgium

Qualifying route: UEFA Group H winners

Odds: 11.00

FIFA World Ranking #3

Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’ have now entered their prime and, after several false starts, the time may just be right for them to pick up their first-ever major honour.

Roberto Martinez has brought a squad to Russia that is positively brimming with talent, including Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, and Romelu Lukaku, so they will be expected to challenge for glory.

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Argentina’s Ezequiel Lavezzi (unseen) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Brazil during their Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup South American Qualifiers football match, in Buenos Aires, on November 13, 2015. AFP PHOTO / EITAN ABRAMOVICH

Argentina

Qualifying route: CONMEBOL third place

Odds: 10.00

FIFA World Ranking #5

Beaten finalists at the 2014 World Cup, Argentina will be expected to challenge once more in Russia and it may just be the last opportunity for Lionel Messi to finally clinch honours with his country. However, their preparations for the competition have not been particularly smooth.

They went perilously close to missing out on a place at the tournament, with Messi coming to their rescue in the final qualifier against Ecuador, and Manuel Lanzini has been forced out of the squad due to injury. Controversies over team selections and contentious friendly games have not helped in the build-up either.

Nevertheless, Messi comes into the tournament on the back of an impressive season with Barcelona and his influence on the team is profound.

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France’s forward Antoine Griezmann celebrates after scoring a goal during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification football match between France and Belarus at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on October 10, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE

France

Qualifying route: UEFA Group A winners

Odds: 8.00

FIFA World Ranking #7

France boast one of the most impressive squads at the World Cup, with incredible depth present in every area of the field.

N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba, and Antoine Griezmann are just some of the stars in a team that will be expected to challenge.

They were beaten in the final of Euro 2016, but Didier Deschamps’ men will have learned their lesson from that defeat.

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Spain players celebrate the opening goal during the international friendly football match between Spain and Switzerland at La Ceramica stadium in Vila-real on June 3, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / JOSE JORDAN

Spain

Qualifying route: UEFA Group G winners

Odds: 7.00

FIFA World Ranking #10

Spain ruled world football from 2008 to 2012, winning the World Cup in 2010 in between back-to-back European Championships.

They suffered a decline in the years since, falling dramatically short at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016, but they look primed to mount a serious challenge once more.

La Roja have not lost a single game since their Euro 2016 last-16 defeat to Italy and they will be full of confidence in Russia this summer, despite the shock departure of Julen Lopetegui as head coach on the eve of the tournament.

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Germany’s midfielder Mesut Oezil (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification match between Germany and Norway in the south German city of Stuttgart on September 4, 2017. / AFP / THOMAS KIENZLE

Germany

Qualifying route: UEFA Group C winners

Odds: 5.50

FIFA World Ranking #1

Germany arrive in Russia as defending champions and they will have realistic expectations of adding a record-equalling fifth title to their collection.

Joachim Low’s side still includes the bulk of the squad that won the World Cup in Brazil four years ago and he has augmented that panel with a selection of younger players who will be expected to lead the next generation.

It may well be Low’s last campaign as Germany boss, with speculation never ceasing about different club jobs, and a second world title would be a fitting send-off for the long-serving manager.

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TOPSHOT – Brazil’s striker Roberto Firmino (R) celebrates with Brazil’s striker Neymar after scoring their second goal during the International friendly football match between Brazil and Croatia at Anfield in Liverpool on June 3, 2018.
Brazil won the game 2-0. / AFP PHOTO / Oli SCARFF

Brazil

Qualifying route: CONMEBOL first place

Odds: 5.00 

FIFA World Ranking #2

Five-time world champions Brazil have been transformed since their disappointment on home soil four years ago, with new boss Tite restoring plenty of pride in the team.

The Selecao lost just one game in their qualification campaign, comfortably finishing at the top of the CONMEBOL section, 10 points ahead of their nearest challengers, Uruguay.

And, with talisman Neymar fully fit in time for the big kick-off, they have been handed a major boost.

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