As the soccer is evolving rapidly in the 21st century, it seems like that now it is way more difficult for young players to glow on the biggest stage than it was 40 or 50 years ago, as soccer has become a tactical battle where the experience is among the most important characteristics for one champion team. The brightest talents still find their way to prove the quality even in their early 20s’, but for the FIFA World Cup title, you need more than youth can give.
When Experience Matter
Four years ago in Brazil, the bettors saw Argentina in the final match mostly because of Lionel Messi’s tremendous displays. Messi was 27-years old at the time, so he was arguably a grown person, while Argentina had the oldest squad at the tournament with an average age of 28.9 and a couple of important players in early 30s’. On the other side, the 2014 World Cup winner Germany had one of the youngest squads with an average age of 26.3, but all their key players were 25-year old or older with young lions sitting on the bench.
In 2006, two oldest rosters met each other in the World Cup Final where Italy has beaten France on penalties, and on both sides we had some quite experienced players such as Fabio Cannavaro (32), Marco Materazzi (32), Alessandro Del Piero (31), Zinedine Zidane (33), Lilian Thuram (34), and Claude Makelele (33), while all these guys played important roles for their respective teams. In 2002, Brazil dominated throughout the tournament with some 30-year-olds in the starting eleven, but the bettors could have also seen a 22-year old Ronaldinho in action. Selecao from 1994 had Romario (28), Bebeto (30), Dunga (30), and Ricardo Rocha (31) all in the best eleven, beating Italy in the final match where Franco Baresi (34) was a captain of Azzurri.
On the other hand, there were some tournaments when young guns stood up, such as in 1958 when Pele (17) and Garrincha (24) brought the first ever World Cup title to Brazil, showing some magical moments to the soccer fans. The captain was a 28-year old defender Hideraldo Bellini, while the legendary left-back Nilton Santos was 33 at the time. Plenty of experts consider Brazil’s team from 1970 as the greatest ever led by Pele who was 29 at the time, but the captain was a 25-year old Carlos Alberto, while all key members were adults – Gerson (29), Tostao (26), Jairzinho (25), and Rivelino (24). The bettors should pay attention to the teams’ average age and players’ experience, particularly in big games, although it seems like the key to a successful campaign is in a well-balanced team.
A sheer talent is always substantial, and in a combination with a hard work and strong character, even inexperienced boys could make a difference, so let’s take a look at some latest odds.
2018 World Cup Betting Picks
With the odds at +400 to beat the 2018 World Cup, Brazil is set as the strongest favorite by BetDSI Sportsbook, while Selecao will be the eighth-oldest team with an average age of 28.6 which sounds quite attractive. If the 26-year old forward Neymar is fully ready after a foot injury, Brazil will have a powerful front line, while the experienced 33-year old defender Thiago Silva should organize the defense. The defending champions Germany are once more among the younger sides at the World Cup (27.1 on average) with a lot of experienced individuals in the squad, not to mention the 28-year old versatile forward Thomas Muller who’s bagged ten goals in his previous two World Cup involvements. Die Mannschaft wasn’t impressive in the recent friendlies but still is a +450 favorite to retain the title.
France is a strong contender with the odds at +650 to win the 2018 World Cup trophy, although the Blues are the second-youngest side with an average age of 26. The key players are all in their mid-20s’, looking ready to reach at least Semi-Finals with the odds at +120, but some youth could make a serious impact, as Kylian Mbappe (19), Ousmane Dembele (21), and Thomas Lemar (22) are all top-notch players already. England has the older team than France for just a few days, considered as a +300 favorite to make it to the last four in Russia, while key members are mostly younger than 25. However, the bettors cannot regard Harry Kane (24), John Stones (24), Raheem Sterling (23) or Delle Alli (22) as inexperienced players, as all these guys are invaluable in their clubs.
Lionel Messi will be 31-year old on June 24th, 2018, while Argentina has some players in the squad with a lot of experience in their careers. La Albiceleste will be the fourth-oldest side at the 2018 World Cup with the odds at -138 to reach the Quarter-Final. Javier Mascherano (34), Sergio Aguero (30), Angel Di Maria (30), Nicolas Otamendi (30), and Gonzalo Higuain (30) are all proficient players, so the bettors shouldn’t underestimate Argentina’s odds at this tournament. Belgium is another team with mature key performers, so it’s no strange that bookmakers set the Red Devils as strong -175 favorites to reach the Quarter-Finals.
The bettors should also know that some teams are among the oldest at the 2018 World Cup like Panama, Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Iceland, but they cannot expect miracles, as these sides are quite limited when it comes to a pure talent and abilities. Sometimes even maturity doesn’t necessary means required experience, as the World Cup is a specific tourney where each game is a big one. Pressure is often a decisive factor, so the bettors should also check over players’ partaking in major tournaments and their achievements, as it could be the essence of each team’s experience.