How often do Favourites win World Cup Matches?

Updated: 311 Football

Ahead of the 2026 World Cup in North America, we look back at the past five tournaments to see how well the countries priced up by the bookies as favourites do and who is the most reliable.

How often do Favourites win World Cup Matches?
Andy Powell Content Editor

Horse Racing stats man, Andy has contributed to OLBG for 18 years - An Ipswich fan and F1 fanatic, he also contributes EFL football and Motor Sport opinion.

World Cup Winning Favourites

In this blog, we are going to look at just how well countries who go into world cup matches as favourites really do, are some countries more reliable than others? Do some falter when it comes to the pressure of the knock-out stages? These are just some of the factors that the best football tipsters look at when deciding on their picks.

For the information in this blog, we will be looking at the last five tournaments and we have to remember that the 2022 tournament was held in winter, unlike the previous tournaments.

We have looked at:

How often do Favourites win World Cup Matches?

When looking back at past world cup tournaments, one question that is often asked is how reliable are the favourites? As a combination, the last five tournaments have seen 55% of the favourites winning matches but it does seem to change from tournament to tournament.

There are sixty-four games at each tournament, forty-eight during the group stages and then the remaining sixteen knock-out games. The 2006 tournament was a bumper year when 45 matches were won by favourites, a massive 66% and the lowest was in 2014 with just 50% of favourites winning.

  • 2006: 66% (42-64)
  • 2010: 52% (33-64)
  • 2014: 50% (32-64)
  • 2018: 56% (36-64)
  • 2022: 53% (34-64)
  • Overall: 55% (177-320)

Here are how the favourites have performed in terms of each round of the group matches.

Stage 2006 2010 2014 2018 2022
1st Match 75% (12-16) 44% (7-16) 56% (9-16) 56% (9-16) 56% (9-16)
2nd Match 69% (11-16) 56% (9-16) 44% (7-16) 69% (11-16) 44% (7-16)
3rd Match 75% (12-16) 50% (8-16) 63% (10-16) 50% (8-16) 50% (8-16)

Which Countries are Reliable Favourites?

If you look at countries who have been made favourites in at least five matches over the last five tournaments then none of them has a perfect record but some of them are close and are respectable favourites whilst others have struggled.

Colombia top the list which may surprise a few, they have been the favourites in seven matches winning six of those, which is an 86% success rate with their only defeat coming in the group stages of the 2018 World Cup when losing to Japan 2-1.

The Netherlands have a decent record with twelve wins from fifteen games when favourites, an 80% success rate whilst both Belgium (8-11 73%) and Uruguay (7-10 70%) have success rates of 70% or more.

Top Five Favourites

  • Colombia: 86% (6-7)
  • Netherlands: 80% (12-15)
  • Belgium: 73% (8-11)
  • Uruguay: 70% (7-10)
  • France: 67% (16-24)

Which Countries are not so Reliable Favourites?

At the other end of the spectrum, a couple of names you probably wouldn't expect to be on the list are both Denmark and Italy who have poor records but it is Serbia who has the worst record as favourites.

Worst Five Favourites

  • Serbia: 17% (1-6)
  • Denmark: 33% (2-6)
  • Italy: 36% (4-11)
  • South Korea: 40% (2-5)
  • USA: 40% (2-5)

Does the Favourite success improve in the Knock-Outs?

Over the last five tournaments, the success rate for favourites in the group stages is 57% with 137 winning from 240 matches, you get a few uneven matchups during the group stages but when it comes to the knock-outs you only have the better teams competing but with more at stake could this affect the favourites?

Well, whilst the group stages were 57%, the success rate for favourites in the knock-out stages actually drops to just 50% and we have to remember we are talking 90 minutes only here with a lot of the games now going to extra time. The 2014 tournament was low with just 38% (6-16) of favourites winning in 90 minutes whilst the 2022 was high was 63% (10-16) of favourites winning.

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France are unbeaten favourites in the knock-out stages at the last five tournaments having won all nine games and when we speak about teams who excel under pressure, Germany is always one of the first you think of, however, they have only won four of the eight games in ninety minutes and are bettered by the Netherlands who have won four of there six games.

Top Five Knock-Out Favourites

  • France: 100% (9-9)
  • Netherlands: 67% (4-6)
  • Germany: 50% (4-8)
  • Spain: 43% (3-7)
  • England: 43% (3-7)

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