London (AFP) – England’s odds of winning next year’s World Cup in Russia were cut Friday after Gareth Southgate’s side were given a favourable draw in Moscow.
The draw saw England chosen to face European rivals Belgium together with outsiders Panama and Tunisia in Group G.
England have not won a major international football tournament since the late Bobby Moore lifted the 1966 World Cup on home soil.
But William Hill, one of Britain’s leading bookmakers, responded to Friday’s draw by cutting England’s odds of winning the 2018 World Cup to 16/1 (bet £1 to win £16) from 20/1.
“Our initial reaction is that England’s job has been made easier by landing in a relatively comfortable group and their odds have been trimmed accordingly,” said William Hill spokesman Joe Crilly.
Hills made holders Germany the 9/2 favourites to repeat their 2014 triumph, with fellow football giants Brazil the 5/1 second favourites.
Belgium are a 12/1 shot but England’s other two pool opponents are among the rank outsiders, with Tunisia a 500/1 chance and Panama, making their World Cup finals debut, a 1000/1 long shot.
Hills forecast the record total of more than £1 billion ($1.3 billion) gambled on the 2014 World Cup, the first time any football World Cup had broken that barrier, would be exceeded during next year’s edition.
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