- Brazil +350 is the favorite to win the 2018 World Cup.
- Neymar +800 is the oddsmakers’ pick to win the Golden Ball.
- In the biggest betting event of the year, money reveals which wagers are being made by sharp bettors.
The 2018 World Cup kicks off on Thursday with host nation Russia taking the pitch against Saudi Arabia (11 a.m. ET). The World Cup will be the most watched and bet event of the year.
Brazil is a +350 favorite to win the Cup and Brazilian forward Neymar (+800) is the favorite to win the Golden Ball (best player of the tournament). But is the money backing the chalk?
Brazil is receiving 30% of dollars wagered to win the World Cup. Germany, the defending champ, is getting 13% of total dollars bet. Uruguay (+2800) is the most popular longshot, attracting 2% of the money.
World Cup MVP
The Golden Ball was first awarded in the 1982 World Cup to Paolo Rossi. The Italian forward scored six goals, the most in the tournament, and led Italy to the World Cup title. One might think the best player on the team that wins the tournament would also earn the Golden Ball honor, but in the eight World Cups since 1982 it has happened only twice.
Brazil is the favorite to win the World Cup and Neymar is the chalk for the Golden Ball, but bettors have their eyes on another forward. Timo Werner is only 22 years old but has already made his mark on the German national team. In 14 appearances for his home country, he has scored eight goals, and 9% of all dollars wagered are backing the German at +2500 to be the tournament MVP.
Here are the other most popular Golden Ball winners by dollars wagered:
Understanding where the money is going is important, but knowing who is placing the bet is critical. Here are two of the most popular teams to win the World Cup that the sharps are on.
France (+650): France is a clear favorite at -300 to win Group C. Les Blues have an implied probability of 75.0% to win their group and advance to the knockout round, tied for the best chance in the tournament with Brazil. With talented forward Antoine Griezmann and midfielder Paul Pogba, France is setup to make a deep run.
Belgium (+1000): Is this the best Belgian squad ever? Many, including pro bettors, think that the Red Devils’ golden generation has a chance to win the World Cup thanks to loads of talent. Kevin De Bruyne is one of the best playmakers in the world, Romelu Lukaku is a proven striker and Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens are wonderful wingers backed by capable defenders and Thibaut Courtois in goal.