We’ve taken a fresh look at the World Cup 2018 outright winner odds after the early fixtures in Russia and have been forced to change our power rankings for the leading contenders.
Several major teams have failed to impress, with Argentina dropping out of the top 10, whereas a few dark horses have emerged as potential challengers to lift the trophy.
The Selecao have made their supporters sweat a bit so far but the talent in this team is there for all to see.
Brazil wasted several good chances in a 1-1 draw with Switzerland and again looked set to pay the price for numerous near-misses versus Costa Rica.
However, Philippe Coutinho and Neymar eased any nerves with stoppage-time strikes and the stage is now set for the five-time champions to really kick on and show their true worth.
La Roja also had to settle for a share of the spoils in a six-goal thriller with Portugal but there was a lot to like about their performance.
Despite being distracted by the shock departure of their head coach just days before, Spain produced some superb passing football to dominate the Euro 2016 champions for long periods.
A soft penalty and a rare David De Gea error twice put them on the back foot, but they responded well and will be buoyed by the form of target man Diego Costa.
Only workmanlike in beating Iran but getting maximum points there was all that mattered.
It wasn’t a vintage performance from Les Bleus as they made hard work of beating Australia 2-1 via an Antoine Griezmann penalty and a heavily deflected Paul Pogba shot.
More of the same followed as they edged out Peru by a single goal.
However, the feeling is that France will settle into a smoother rhythm now that they have a couple of wins on the board.
The Red Devils were slow to get going against Panama and for a while it looked like the pressure of being dubbed a golden generation was telling on this team.
However, Dries Mertens settled their nerves with a wonderful volley and then Romelu Lukaku finished off assists from Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard.
Roberto Martinez beamed: “In a World Cup, you have to play for 90 minutes and we had to be prepared to work hard, show maturity and real togetherness.”
The Three Lions left it late before edging out Tunisia 2-1 but Gareth Southgate will have been pleased with the way they controlled proceedings and kept their composure.
Key striker Harry Kane stepped up on some moderate displays for Tottenham towards the end of the season to claim a clinical brace and should be fired up to build on that flying start.
A rock-solid defence was only breached because of a freak penalty and Southgate said: “We kept our patience and looked for good opportunities, rather than just throwing the ball in the box and hoping.”
Didn’t have much to beat in seeing off Nigeria 2-0 but made a huge statement of intent when following that up with a 3-0 demolition of Argentina.
Real Madrid playmaker Luka Modric and Barcelona star Ivan Rakitic look full of confidence and ready to lead this talented team through to the latter stages.
Could this be the tournament where Croatia finally live up to their true potential?
The European champions were outplayed for large parts of the draw with Spain, but when you’ve got Cristiano Ronaldo on your side, you have to command respect.
A 51st hat-trick of his incredible career was completed with a stunning free-kick and Ronaldo’s ability to shine in key moments could take Portugal a long way again in this tournament.
Ronaldo was the hero again in a hard-fought win over Morocco, although the supporting cast will need to step up at some point.
Two things which can play a huge part in sporting results are home advantage and momentum – Russia now have both after beating Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
The hosts played with pace and positivity in each match and have produced some superb finishing to score eight goals already.
There will be tougher tests ahead, but the Russian bandwagon is rolling and may be hard to stop.
One swallow doesn’t make a summer, but El Tri have to be included in our top 10 after upsetting Germany first up.
Hirving Lozano grabbed the headlines for his crucial strike but Mexico were impressive all over the pitch, defending resolutely and then breaking with great speed.
History dictates that we can’t let the defending champions drop out of the list altogether just because of one defeat, but they must improve markedly to get back on track.
Germany were ponderous and slow in their build-up play and regularly got caught out on the counter-attack, so Joachim Low has a job on his hands.
However, he insisted: “Throw out the game plan? We certainly do not do that. If we do the things we do well, then we can achieve a lot. We will not fall to pieces. We will make it through.”