Breaking down World Cup oddsDate: June 12, 2018
By Evando Thompson
Just as recent as the 2014 FIFA World Cup, some of the game's best players were left in heartache. Whether they suffered injuries on the pitch or watched the trophy slip right out their grasp. The following list is comprised of veterans as well as young prodigies on the national teams with the ten best chances to win, according to a UBS Model based on 10,000 simulations.
Veteran: Lionel Messi- It is difficult to choose any one else on the 2014 runner-ups side, as many people expect one of the greatest players ever to make a statement in efforts of completing his hardware filled career.
Newcomer: Paulo Dybala- The blooming Juventus star, that can play many attacking positions from Striker to central attacking midfielder, will probably start games at Right Wing for Argentina. Look for 24-year-old to put on his "Dybalamask" more than a few times when he turns into a gladiator, as he says, around the goal.
Veteran: Eden Hazard- Chelsea's makeshift forward has demonstrated glimpses of world-class, but many await him to have a Ballon D'or worthy tournament on a gigantic stage, none of which bigger than Summer 2018 in Russia. Hazard captained a growing but young, premature side during the 2016 Euros. Alongside pass-master Kevin De Bruyne and goal scorer Romelu Lukaku, Hazard is capable of shining with the all-star pieces he has around him.
Newcomer: Michy Batshuayi- The 22-year-old Chelsea loanee to Borussia Dortmund had a cold spell months ago due to usage rate, but has been on fire of late as he has knocked in nine goals in 13 appearances for the side. Look for the Batsman to be a key part of this Belgium squad, should the team start Napoli's Dries Mertens over him.
Veteran: Neymar Jr.- After gracefully willing a team of young stars to Olympic Gold two years ago in Rio, more expectations are on the shoulders of the PSG superstar. According to the USB Model simulator, Brazil is second only to Germany in terms of winning probability so it would shock no one to see the squad lift the trophy with Neymar leading the way.
Newcomer: Gabriel Jesus- At just 21 years old, big things are expected from the Manchester City striker who was third on the team in goals scored on their way to the Premier League title. Four years ago, Jesus was painting the streets of Brazil for the 2014 World Cup and now, he is one of the key starters to a side that shows a lot of promise.
Veteran: Harry Kane- It is tough to label a 24-year-old forward as veteran, since his first international appearance did not come until 2015. The third youngest squad amongst World Cup qualifying teams, will have to make Kane their key player after the departure of English legend Wayne Rooney. The two-time Premier League Golden Boot winner must perform well, come June.
Newcomer: Marcus Rashford- Many people would have chosen Tottenham's Dele Alli or Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold at this spot, rightfully so. But, Manchester United's 20-year-old striker has performed well when called upon and will need to, as he will be called upon to draw attention away from Kane up-top.
Veteran: Paul Pogba- Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann is arguably in the best form out of any French veteran, but the offense goes as Pogba goes. Manchester United's central attacking midfielder will have to pick out passes and control the midfield in order for the likes of Griezmann and Real Madrid's Benzema to score. Pogba is clearly world-class talent but, his consistency is what remains the question.
Newcomer: Kylian Mbappe- One of the most expensive Association Football transfers, at 166 Million Euros to PSG, will open eyes and turn heads in the World Cup. Equally gifted with both feet around the box, the 19-year-old wonderkid's footwork will create chances for France as well as enable him to create goal-scoring opportunities for himself at forward.
Veteran: Thomas Muller- Bayern Munchen's midfielder has never been one to leave the crowd in awe after plays, but his performances in dire situations gets the job more often than not. The fundamentally sound veteran must lead the reigning champions on their quest to repeat glory.
Newcomer: Timo Werner- RB Leipzig's forward was the top scorer on Germany en route to their 2017 Confederations Cup title and has bagged 44 goals in 77 games over two years. The 22-year-old was the missing link to the 2016 Euro squad, but will be sure to make his presence known on Die Mannschaft this summer.
Veteran: Javier Chicharito Hernandez- The West Ham Forward had a subpar campaign but the experience and goal scoring ability is very much still there. The 29-year-old is more the capable of leading the line for El Tri.
Newcomer: Hirving Lozano- In his first season in Europe, the 22-year-old winger netted 19 goals in all competitions as PSV secured the Dutch title. It will be hard for the club to keep him on the team after his performance for his country in Russia.
Veteran: Cristiano Ronaldo- One of the greatest players of all-time has enjoyed the success of winning the Champions League weeks ago and securing the Euro 2016 trophy, albeit injured in the Final. Ronaldo has yet to win the World Cup, and can add one more trophy to his name this summer.
Newcomer: Andre Silva- After the 32 Million Euro move to AC Milan last summer, the 22-year-old forward has not been the same. Scoring 21 times in his No. 9 role for FC Porto in 2016-17, Silva saw a decline in his performance this past season. With many young players, it takes time to get into form with a new team and a different role, but look for Silva to be a noticeable piece on the Seleccao.
Veteran: Andres Iniesta- The midfield mastermind will have to guide the squad, much more on the mental side of things on the pitch. One of the members of the Spanish side won the Euros and the World Cup in 2008 and 2010, knows what it takes to win and his experience will show that. In all likelihood, this will be the Spaniard's last world cup ride.
Newcomer: Marco Asensio- Real Madrid's 22-year-old midfielder has demonstrated a lot of promise when called upon in his substitution role for the side. Look for Asensio to see much more playing time in the tournament and shining in the process.
Veteran: Luis Suarez- Barcelona's polarizing forward will have to perform well in order for the team to have success in the World Cup. Suarez is in top form after scoring 26 goals and assisting 16 more this past campaign.
Newcomer: Rodrigo Bentancur- Though not a regular starter for Juventus since joining from Boca Juniors, the 20-year-old will be a starter for Uruguay's 4-4-2 formation in midfield. The linkage from him to Suarez and PSG's Edinson Canvani will be crucial in terms of success for Uruguay.
Evando can be reached at email@example.com