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World Cup Betting History

While some sports see major long shots rise to the top and win the championship, the World Cup has historically been won by teams that enter the tournament as legitimate contenders. The randomness of sport leaves room for individual upsets in the group stage and the knockout stage, but the talent discrepancy is too great between the top teams in the world and the rest of the field for long shots to have a legitimate chance at winning it all.

Fortunately, the fact that top teams tend to come out on top doesn’t make the World Cup completely predictable. While the gap between the top teams in the world and the rest of the field is severe, the gaps among those top teams are much less wide. Different teams play different styles and formations, leaving plenty of room for argument about who matches up best with who and which of the world’s top teams will emerge victorious.

For example, very little separated the top four teams on the betting board in 2014 in host country Brazil at 3/1, Argentina at 5/1, Germany at 5/1 and Spain at 6/1. But on the field, Germany blew Brazil away 7-1 in the semifinals before eventually scoring a 1-0 win over Argentina in the World Cup final to lift the trophy. Germany wasn’t a long shot, but it also wasn’t the odds-on favorite as Brazil was.

The longest shot to win the World Cup since 1986 was Italy in 2006 going off at 10/1 before the tournament began. Other recent winners include Spain (4/1) over Holland (10/1) in 2010, Brazil (7/1) over Germany (20/1) in 2002, France (7/1) over Brazil (10/3) in 1998 and Brazil (10/3) over Italy (6/1) in 1994.

Brazil has the most World Cup wins to date with five, one win ahead of Germany and Italy at four each. Germany has the most appearances in the World Cup final with four runner-up finishes to go along with its four wins. This year’s World Cup field will be without Holland and Italy as both teams failed to make it through the qualifying stage for the 2018 World Cup.