With some of the best teams in the world already out of the running, the remaining contenders have seen their odds slashed at the 2018 World Cup.
Even before the quarterfinals, storied nations like Germany, Spain, Argentina, and Portugal had been eliminated, while others have survived close calls to stay in the tournament.
Clear Path for England to Final
The team that may have gained the biggest advantage from these unexpected exits is England. It was already widely believed that England had been placed on the softer side of the bracket, provided they can get past Colombia in the Round of 16 on Tuesday.
But with the elimination of Spain, that half of the draw is now wide open. Only two of the teams in England’s side of the bracket have ever made a World Cup final before, the last being the English themselves when they won the tournament in 1966.
That might be why William Hill has slashed England’s odds of winning their second World Cup to just 6/1, even before their first knockout match. That makes the Three Lions joint fourth choice with Croatia (6/1), who will face hosts Russia (20/1) in the quarterfinals. Russia was a surprise winner in the Round of 16, knocking off Spain on penalties after holding the 2010 champions to a 1-1 draw.
The winner of England’s match with Colombia (20/1) will play the victor of the game between Switzerland (33/1) and Sweden (40/1) in the quarterfinals.
World Cup Favorites Collide
The other side of the World Cup bracket is loaded with talent, and all four teams remaining in that half would make worthy winners of the tournament.
That includes the overall tournament favorite in Brazil (3/1). A solid 2-0 victory over Mexico on Monday suggests that the Brazilians are peaking at the right time, though they’ll have a difficult road ahead of them if they want to win their sixth World Cup.
That starts in the quarterfinals, where they’ll be facing Belgium (5/1). A trendy pick to win the tournament since before it started, Belgium has shown a propensity for scoring goals, though their three-man back line has struggled to contain other teams. Nowhere was this clearer than in their Round of 16 match against Japan on Monday, when the Belgians had to fight back from a 2-0 deficit to snatch a 3-2 win.
Perhaps no team has been more impressive so far than France (7/2). A young and talented side with plenty of speed, France is coming off a thrilling 4-3 win over Argentina on Saturday. 19-year-old forward Kylian Mbappe has been especially eye-opening at the World Cup, scoring two goals against Argentina in the latest performance that has him marked by many as the breakout star of the tournament.
France will still have plenty of work to do in their quarterfinal, where they’ll face off against Uruguay (14/1). Fresh off a 2-1 win over Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal and possessing what many consider the best defensive unit in the tournament, Uruguay is the team that might have been hurt most by the composition of the knockout stage bracket.
Were they on England’s side, they would likely be given a strong shot at making the final. But they’re outsiders to advance that far when placed up against the top three favorites left in the field.