Scotland V England Saturday 24th February. 4:45PM. BBC One Scotland v England renew their rivalry…
In our latest World Cup blog, we look ahead to this summer’s tournament and ask whether any of Europe’s 13 participants are capable of being crowned champions in Brazil.
No UEFA nation has ever won a World Cup in either of the America’s, but Spain did become the first European team to win it on the subcontinent in South Africa four years ago – which will undoubtedly give hope to those with genuine ambitions.
Here’s our analysis on the hopes of UEFA’s representatives:
(11/2, Bet 365)
The Germans are notorious for achieving big things on the world stage and, according to the bookies, are Europe’s best chance of success.
With a core of players from a phenomenal Bayern Munich team, it isn’t hard to see why Joachim Low’s men are so highly regarded.
Germany face a difficult group stage, but will be fancied to top it on route to reaching the latter stages. A team of real quality and experience.
(7/1, Bet 365)
The current World and European champions are looking to make history by winning four consecutive major tournaments, but could have their work cut out in Brazil.
Spain face losing finalists Holland in the group stage and could yet meet the hosts in the round of 16. The heavy Confederations Cup final loss to Brazil has certainly raised questions on the ageing squad. However, Vicente del Bosque’s has instilled a winning mentality and it would be foolish to rule the holders out.
(18/1, Bet Victor)
Many people’s dark horses for the World Cup, but it could be a tournament too soon for the youthful Belgium squad.
There is no denying that Belgium boast a number of talented young stars, but it remains to be seen whether they can mount a real challenge in Brazil.
Those odds are far too short in my opinion, qualification for the last 16 would signal a decent tournament.
(25/1, Sky Bet)
We all know that, on their day, France are capable of beating anyone. Unfortunately, their day doesn’t come often enough for them to win a World Cup right now.
Les Bleus struggled in qualification, although they were paired with Spain in that process, but do face a relatively easy route to the last 16.
France always pose a threat and may reach the quarter-finals, but winning it is probably beyond Didier Deschamps’ men.
(28/1, Be Victor)
They say ‘form is temporary, class is permanent’, but this ageing Italy side has very little chance of success in the Brazilian heat.
Cesare Prandelli has already announced that he’ll be stepping down as manager after this tournament, and a number of players will also be expected to retire from the international stage. Italy peaked with a World Cup victory in 2006, a repeat of that feat won’t be happening this summer.
The troubled Netherlands went so close in South Africa, but are unlikely to make any real inroads at this summer’s tournament.
There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Dutch side right now. Louis van Gaal has already announced that he will not renew his contract, whilst a number of star players – such as Wesley Sneijder – are in danger of not being selected. An injury to Kevin Strootman will also have a huge impact on their progress.
At Euro 2012, the Oranje Army surrendered without a fight a similar story could happen here.
They might boast the world’s greatest player, but even Cristiano Ronaldo can’t drag Portugal to the title.
Portugal face a difficult group alongside Germany, Ghana and USA. Even progressing to the last 16 would be achievement. If they do, a quarter-final appearance could be in the offing.
(33/1, Bet 365)
Many will be tempted to put a patriotic bet on England, but you may as well save your money.
It’s not nice to admit, but there is a good possibility that the Three Lions could crash out at the group stage.
If Hodgson can lead England to glory, he should be named the undisputed king of football management.
(100/1, Bet Victor)
The 2018 hosts were superb in qualifying, but playing in front of a partisan crowd in the cold of Moscow is completely different to appearing in the sweltering heat of Brazil.
Fabio Capello’s men can probably expect to reach the last 16. They won’t go much further than that.
(125/1, Sky Bet)
Switzerland might have been a top seed for the draw, but that will not fool anyone into thinking they are genuine contenders.
A last 16 appearance is the best they can achieve.
(200/1, Bet Victor)
Croatia have the honour of opening the tournament with their match against Brazil. Despite a tough group, they do boast a number of top stars – most notably Mandzukic and Modric – and could well qualify for the knockout stage alongside the hosts.
However, with the winner of Spain’s group awaiting in the last 16, a quarter-final place is almost impossible.
(200/1, Sky Bet)
Just reaching a first ever World Cup will have the whole nation buzzing. The Bosnian’s know that they won’t win the tournament, but that won’t stop them from enjoying the journey.
(300/1, Bet 365)
The Euro 2004 champions regularly qualify for tournaments, but have absolutely zero chance of winning it this time around.