And the winners of the 2014 World Cup are...

So which nation will be lifting the greatest prize in football next July 13th at the world famous Maracanã Stadium stadium in Rio de Janeiro?

Having won the World Cup on a record five occasions – home advantage will surely tip things in Brazil's favour to make it a sixth? If you believe the bookmakers’ odds it will be Brazil at around 3/1. This is understandable. Brazil are, without any shadow of a doubt, the strongest nation in the history of football.

That’s the logic anyway – but home advantage also brings an added pressure that no Brazilian side has had to endure since 1950. What’s more, Spain have been the dominant force in world football for a while now – achieving what no other nation’s team in history has been able to by winning three major trophies in a row. If you think Spain can make it four, then they’re generous odds at around 7–1.

Closer in in the betting are the third and fourth most successful World Cup nations of all time – Germany and Argentina.

Argentina are particularly strong at the moment with a wealth of talent, particularly when you consider their strike force. Add to that the fact that no European nation has ever won a World Cup on American soil and the sometimes bitter rivalry between Argentina and Brazil – and a showdown could be very spectacular indeed. Argentina are currently around 4/1.

Germany are also very strong now – as exemplified by Bayern Munich’s European dominance – and always do well even when they have a weak side; it simply seems to be in the Germans’ DNA and they will undoubtedly be a major force to be reckoned with. Germany are currently around 5/1.

That accounts for all the most successful teams in World Cup history save one; Italy. Italy are generally considered to have weaker squad than we’re used to seeing and, despite having lifted the World Cup four times, are given little chance by the bookmakers at around 25-1. Both Belgium and France are closer in in the betting.
This looks like good value.

Italy are traditionally strong in World Cups no matter how weak or strong the squad is perceived to be going into the competition. They also have a reasonably good looking group from which to progress to the knockout stages – though a lot will depend on the opening match against England. To go through, Italy will also have to face Uruguay and Costa Rica – so with only two qualifying, one of the big three in that group will be going out, probably alongside Costa Rica.

History tends to suggest this won’t be Italy, though, which makes that 25-1 look very generous indeed. The New Year didn't look great for Italy when Fiorentina striker Giuseppe Rossi, top scorer in Serie A, suffered a – but it’s now thought he’ll be fit for Brazil.

So who knows who’ll be lifting the trophy? If you were staking your life on it, you’d probably say Brazil – but if you were looking for a great value punt – then surely that honour belongs to Italy?