Every four years, the World Cup captures every nation’s attention whether their team is participating or not. Heading into each World Cup, there are usually one or two teams that are expected to meet up in the finals, but it doesn’t always go that way. Here’s a look at who the favorite to win was for each World Cup and how they ended up finishing since odds were introduced for the first time in 1978:
There have been six countries that have won the World Cup while hosting, and Argentina did it in their only hosting duty in 1978. The country came in as a 2:1 favorite in the betting odds, taking down the Netherlands in the finals 3-1, with the Dutch having a solid 5:1 odds, as well.
Spain hosted the 1982 World Cup, which turned out ot be one of the most exciting tournaments of all time. Brazil had been a runaway favorite to win it all, and made it to the second round before being taken out by Italy, who would go on to win the title over West Germany.
Once again, Brazil was favored to win the World Cup as it came to Mexico in 1986, but Argentina would end up winning their second title in three World Cups. It wasn’t as if Argentina was a longshot, though, as they were second in odds at 4:1 compared to Brazil’s 11:4.
There were a few teams that were expected to compete for the title at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, with the home country getting a slight boost to become the favorites due to playing at home. However, they would be knocked out in the semifinals by Argentina. Italy would win the third place game against England while Argentina lost to West Germany in the title game.
1994 (Brazil and Germany):
The United States played home to the 1994 World Cup, and bettors were torn between Brazil and Germany as the co-7:2 favorites. Italy and Holland weren’t far behind, but the Germany didn’t even make the semifinals. Brazil did, though, and won the World Cup by defeating Italy in the championship.
There’s a common theme of Brazil being favored, and 1998 was no exception when the event was held in France. Brazil did indeed end up making to the finals where they took on the host country who had the second best odds. France would prevail as the winner in front of their home crowd.
Argentina was favored to win the World Cup in 2002 before the groups were announced, but France became the favorite to repeat prior to the tournament that took place in South Korea and Japan. However, France didn’t even make it to the knockout stage as they went 0-1-2 and had to watch Denmark and Senegal advance.
Despite Germany hosting the 2006 World Cup, the Brazilians came into the event as favorites and disappointed with their performance. Brazil made it to the knockout stage, but were ousted by France in the quarterfinals, with Italy defeating the French in the championship via shootout.
For the first time, Spain was favored to win the World Cup in the first time that South Africa played host. The Spainiards lived up to the hype as they defeated Portugal, Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands in the knockout stage to win the World Cup.
Brazil got to host the 2014 World Cup, and thus came into the event as the overwhelming favorites, and their exit from the tournament is one of the most memorable matches in World Cup history. Germany defeated Argentina in the finals, but not before they dismantled Brazil 7-1 in the semis in Belo Horizonte. The Brazilians then turned around and got shutout 3-0 by the Netherlands in the third place game.
Surely Brazil would correct the ship and get their redemption in Russia in 2018, right? Not only did they not win the 2018 World Cup, but they didn’t even advance as far as the favorite, getting knocked out in the quarterfinals by Belgium. France, the fourth-highest favorite, would end up beating 33:1 underdog Croatia in the finals.
The 2022 World Cup proved to be anybody’s to win, but Brazil was considered the favorite at 9:2 to win it all. Brazil coasted into the knockout stage, but was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Croatia when the two squads went to a shootout.