The FIFA World Cup kicked off overnight in Russia, with the first game between the hosts and Saudi Arabia at 1 am Eastern time. Tonight the first round of the group stage will continue, with the Socceroos set to play their first game on Saturday night against France.
So who is expected to do well this FIFA World Cup?
At this stage the competition appears to be a four (maybe five) horse race – of which none are England, despite their delusions of grandeur. German and Brazil, perennial favourites, will again be major contenders. They are joined by Spain and France in the main group of favourites, with Argentina the dark horse thanks to having the best player in the world, Lionel Messi, in their squad.
Belgium and England have been talking up their own chances, but neither has the class or the depth to go all the way. Watching the England sporting community get its heart broken once again should be very amusing for Australian fans.
Who are the no-hopers?
Host Russia has next to no chance of progressing, and they will most likely be joined by Costa Rica, South Korea, Tunisia, Panama and Iran, as well as their first round opponents Saudi Arabia. Many would have placed Australia in this group before the recent friendlies, but form has given them a faint sniff of sneaking through the group stage behind France.
The Mexicans are also in trouble after their entire team was caught partying with prostitutes in a police raid on the eve of their departure for the tournament.
Does Australia have a chance?
Australia never has a chance of winning the FIFA World Cup. However, they look to have improved in the last month or so and have a chance of making it out of the pool. This has seen their overall odds shorten, from about 300-1 to 250-1. Then again, stranger thigs have happened – the season Leicester won the EPL they were listed at 5000-1!