World Cup: Brazil strong favourites as Argentina's odds improve – Stats Perform AI predicts the finals

The conclusion of the World Cup group stage is rapidly approaching with two rounds of games done and dusted.

Three teams are sure of their place in the last 16, with Brazil, France and Portugal all set to contest knockout football after winning each of their opening two games, while hosts Qatar and Canada are already playing for pride following back-to-back defeats.

Yet for many there will be nervy finales in store as they look to keep their hopes of winning football's most famous prize alive.

Ahead of the critical final group games, Stats Perform's AI model has updated to give the latest prediction as to who will lift the trophy at Lusail Stadium on December 18.

Let's check out the results…

FAVOURITES: Brazil (24.2 per cent)

The Selecao were the pre-tournament favourites and have done nothing to change that perception, easily progressing to the knockouts without conceding a goal.

It is that latter aspect that is perhaps most important when discussing Tite's side.

While other contenders have seen their net breached, Brazil have maintained defensive solidity, with their spine complementing an impressive forward line that will grow more dangerous in the last 16 when Neymar will be expected to return from injury.

No surprise then, that the model gives Brazil a 24.2 per cent chance of regaining the title they have won five times prior and taking their place back at world football's summit for the first time since 2002.

2. France (13.5 per cent)

With Karim Benzema missing through injury and reports of the kind of pre-tournament discord that has blighted France World Cup campaigns in years gone by, there were some indications their title defence might not go to plan.

Such omens have proved false to this point, with Les Bleus coming from behind to beat Australia and then claiming a Kylian Mbappe-inspired win over Denmark, which saw them become the first team to punch their ticket to the knockout rounds.

As such, the model's belief France could become only the third team to successfully defend the World Cup - and the first since Brazil in 1962 - is still strong.

With Mbappe in the kind of form he demonstrated on matchday two, it would be brave to bet against Les Bleus.

3. Argentina (10.7 per cent)

Unlike Brazil and France, Argentina's place in the last 16 is not yet secured, and they face a tricky final group game with Robert Lewandowski and Poland as La Albiceleste aim to seal progression from Group C.

But a stunning defeat to Saudi Arabia and an unconvincing win over Mexico, one in which they were rescued by a vintage Lionel Messi strike, has not impacted the model's confidence in Argentina as one of the top teams in Qatar.

They are viewed as third favourites to win the World Cup for a third time in their history, having previously done so in 1978 and 1986.

Messi is in the last-chance saloon in terms of his ambition of guiding his country to triumph on the grandest stage after going agonisingly close in 2014, and the strong odds of him doing so are hugely contingent on Argentina winning the group, as a runners-up finish would almost certainly mean a last-16 meeting with Group D leaders France, who beat them 4-2 at the same stage in 2018.

4. Spain (10.4 per cent)

A 1-1 draw with Germany gave a more accurate reflection of where Spain are as a side following their opening 7-0 demolition of Costa Rica.

La Roja have command of Group E and, despite Japan stunning Germany at the start of the group stage, will be expected to come through their final round-robin game with the same opposition and progress in top spot.

The likelihood of Spain winning the group and potentially facing a favourable last-16 clash with Morocco factors in to their 10.4 per cent chance of regaining the trophy they lifted in South Africa in 2010.

And, with eight goals in two games, concern about the lack of an established striker impacting Spain's hopes should be diminishing.

5. England (9.7 per cent)

An extremely dour 0-0 draw with United States may have done little to boost impressions of this Three Lions team but, barring a four-goal loss to Wales, it ensured their place in the knockout rounds.

The underwhelming performance that maintained England's winless record against the USA in the World Cup did not hurt their status as one the top contenders to lift the trophy.

England still hold a 9.7 per cent chance to win the tournament and end the infamous wait that stretches back to 1966. Should they end the group stage on a high with a convincing performance against their neighbours, more will start to believe this could be the year for Gareth Southgate's men.

WC prediction MD2
WC prediction MD2

THE REST OF THE FIELD

Portugal's successive wins over Ghana and Uruguay have Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. in complete command in Group H, but they weren't enough to move Fernando Santos' men into the top five, their 7.7 per cent odds putting them as the sixth favourites for the title.

The Netherlands remain unbeaten but their odds of turning Louis van Gaal's farewell into a triumphant one are not overly high. With the Oranje at 7.2 per cent, it appears this is a tournament too soon for an exciting but young team.

Still, the Netherlands are in a much better position than their traditional rivals, Germany. Their chances of winning the World Cup for a record-tying fifth time stand at a lowly 3.3 per cent after they took one point from their opening two games. Hansi Flick's men will be expected to see off Costa Rica but, even if they do so, Germany will be dependent on the result in Spain's clash with Japan to secure a spot in the last 16, a position few expected them to be in.

Belgium's golden generation don't look like claiming gold in Qatar, the Red Devils now seen as having just a 1.6 per cent chance to claim a maiden major tournament title following a 2-0 defeat to Morocco, who stand as Africa's best hope with a 1.3 per cent shot.

List in full:

1. Brazil (24.2 per cent)

2. France (13.5 per cent)

3. Argentina (10.6 per cent)

4. Spain (10.3 per cent)

5. England (9.7 per cent)

6. Portugal (7.7 per cent)

7. Netherlands (7.2 per cent)

8. Germany (3.3 per cent)

9. Croatia (2.1 per cent)

10. Belgium (1.6 per cent)

11. Denmark (1.5 per cent)

12. Morocco (1.3 per cent)

13. Poland (1.1 per cent)

14. Ecuador (1.0 per cent)

15. Switzerland (1.0 per cent)

16. Uruguay (0.9 per cent)

17. United States (0.6 per cent)

18. Serbia (0.5 per cent)

19. Senegal (0.4 per cent)

20. Iran (0.3 per cent)

21. Mexico (0.2 per cent)

22. Ghana (0.2 per cent)

23. Australia (0.2 per cent)

24. Japan (0.2 per cent)

25. Costa Rica (0.1 per cent)

26. Saudi Arabia (0.1 per cent)

27. Tunisia (0.1 per cent)

28. South Korea (0 per cent)

29. Wales (0 per cent)

30. Cameroon (0 per cent)

31. Qatar (0 per cent)

32. Canada (0 per cent)