The 2018 World Cup in Russia is eight months away, and after Tuesday’s congested slate of qualifying finales, 23 of the 32 nations set to vie for football’s biggest prize have secured a berth.
European and intercontinental play-offs, along with another round of African qualifiers, will determine the remaining nine sides, and while it’s premature to weigh the chances of those yet to qualify, it’s never too early to assess the trophy claims of the nations that have already earned spot.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the 23 teams making plans for a Russian sojourn, and their chances of lifting the Jules Rimet trophy come July 15th:
1. Germany – Die Mannschaft checks all the boxes of a World Cup favourite. Joachim Low’s lot steamrolled through a record-breaking qualifying campaign a perfect 10 for 10, and as defending champion, Germany should arrive in Russia the bettor’s pick. For those who fancy a large sample size, the four-time winner has only failed to reach the last-four once in the last eight attempts.