The 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup is well underway, and some of the best players in the game are gracing the stage in Russia. With 32 teams taking part it can be tough to predict a winner, but some teams are surely better equipped than others when it comes to personnel. However, at every major competition, there is always room for a dark horse to upset the set order.
So who's the favorite to win the 2018 World Cup? We will take a look at the top three contenders for the highest prize in football.
Favourites to win the 2018 World Cup
After seeing their status as outright favorites take a hit early into the tournament, five-time champions Brazil returned to the fore as the team that was thought most likely to win gold in Russia. However, they were defeated and sent packing by a wild Belgium side at the quarter-final stage who have been increasing their quality with every knockout game.
Neymar wasn't able to make quite an impression after they found themselves 2-0 down going into the break, and though Renato Augusto scored towards the closing stages of regular time, it was the heroics of Thibaut Courtois that denied a chance of an equalizing goal.
France are now among the favorites to win the competition 20 years after their first and only conquest and made great gaits towards the World Cup final after beating Uruguay 2-0 in the quarter-final.
It is not shocking to see Les Bleus so highly rated ( 2/1 as per dabblebet ) considering that Didier Deschamps has a remarkable pool of talent to draw from, which includes the likes of Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann. They are through to the quarter-finals after beating Argentina in a 4-3 thriller.
Perennial dark horses Belgium arrived in Russia with a 'Golden Generation' - including players like Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, and Romelu Lukaku - which has now attained a level of maturity that should see them put up a serious challenge, something that is shown in their price of 11/4.
The Red Devils entered the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup and were kicked out at the same stage at Euro 2016, but they have enough talent in their ranks to guarantee a better display in Russia, even if they did have to come back from 2-0 to beat Japan 3-2 with virtually the final kick of the game in the last 16.
They continued to hold their claim as underdogs following an emphatic 2-1 win over favorites Brazil in the quarter-final stage, thanks to an own goal from Gabriel Jesus and a first-half strike from De Bruyne.
Belgium will now face France in the last eight of the competition, which will be a monumental task for both teams in the race to reach the final.
Over the years England have had to contend with the pressure of expectation at successive World Cups, but that did not exist in the build-up to the 2018 edition.
In terms of star quality, Gareth Southgate's side is a far cry from the 'Golden Generation' that fell short in the 2000s and they will be relying on the talents of Harry Kane in particular – who still remains as the competition's top-scorer.
Having qualified from Group G as runners-up behind Belgium, the Three Lions emerged victorious in a last-16 tie against Colombia through a penalty shootout and they've also defeated Sweden in the quarter-final to book a place against Croatia in the semifinal stage of the competition.