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World Cup 2018 - What you need to know

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World Cup 2018 - What you need to know

Germany hopes to retain the world cup title
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Who are the favourites?

There are just a few days left from the kick off of the world's most important football event, this time around hosted by Russia. Euronews brings you a series of special programmes with all that you need to know about the FIFA 2018 World Cup.

It's been 1,784 days since Germany won the title in 2014, and now the trophy is seeking a new owner, or could it stay in the same hands?

All in all, there are 32 teams vying for the prize, but of course, there are always going to be some with a better chance than others.

Let's take a closer look at some of the squads that the pundits regard as the favourites this time around.

GERMANY

Reigning champions and four-time World Cup winners Germany hope to become the first team to retain the trophy since Brazil, which clinched it in '58 and '62. German coach Joachim Low has put his faith in the golden generation, raising the average age to 27, its highest ever. In the qualifiers, the team has shown to be in perfect shape. Surprisingly, though, Mario Gotze and Leroy Sane are both out.

Germany's Coach Joachim Low

BRAZIL

The Canarinho, Brazil, has hopes of restoring its image after its painful 1-7 loss against Germany four years ago.

Their key strategy will be in their attack, featuring recovered Neymar alongside Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho.

Leading the defence will be Marcelo in the absence of injured Dani Alves.

Reuters
Brazil's NeymarReuters

SPAIN

Many things have changed since Spain won the 2010 World Cup. From that team, around six to eight players are also on this year's squad, but manager Julen Lopetegui hopes an influx of young talent such as Thiago, Isco, Marco Asensio and David de Gea can carry Spain to the final. The Spaniards are also still counting on their experienced players: Iniesta, Ramos and Pique to name but a few.

Spain's Thiago in training

FRANCE

'Les Bleus' are once again a favourite thanks to their coach Didier Deschamps. He has in his care a new generation with enough talent to go far. France's forward line in particular is mouth-watering.

Antoine Griezmann won the Golden Boot in the Euro 2016, and has only gotten better, while players who didn't play in that Euro - Kylian Mbappe, Nabil Fekir and Ousmane Dembele - are now among the brightest young stars globally.

France's Griezmann reacts after missing chance June 9

Pundits and their predictions

Euronews spoke to former football players and pundits about their World Cup views and predictions.

“I think the World Cup scenario is very equal, very balanced,” said former Brazilian footballer Ronaldo Nazario, adding, “I don't see a particular favourite. I'm very optimistic about Brazil. They've been performing well, especially in these last months. I don't think Portugal will go too far in this World Cup, not because of Cristiano Ronaldo, but because of the team. The moment they face more experienced national teams, I think Portugal won't go through.

Ronaldo in training prior to world cup

Former Brazil and Portugal national coach Luiz Felipe Scolari shared his team predictions. “My candidates today, not necessary in this order, are Brazil, Argentina, France, Germany, Spain and Portugal,” he said.

“And then, there are some national teams that can surprise us, such as England or Belgium,” Scolari added.

Retired French footballer Marcel Desailly, who was a member of both France national squads that won the 1998 World Cup and the Euro 2000, shared his insights on France’s hopes. “I think that the most important thing is to produce a good team energy, that the team is together no matter what. And, also it's important to have some players in their best shape. This is what can make the difference. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 1998 final, France-Brazil, wouldn't be a bad final,” he said smiling.

Hernan Crespo, the former Argentinian footballer, noted that “The favourites are always the same. But I think that from what we are seeing nowadays in football, the World Cup will be much more open than we think; there are interesting teams. I think there is room for the surprise. I think it's going to be a great tournament.”

Don’t miss the next World Cup Programme, in which Euronews looks at the other teams that - for one reason or another - could surprise the world.