World Cup odds, predictions 2018: Championship picks from international soccer insider

The eyes of the world will be on Russia when the 2018 World Cup opens play on June 14 with group play determining which teams will have a shot to win soccer's most coveted prize. Defending champion Germany is the favorite, going off at 7-2 in the latest 2018 World Cup odds. Brazil (4-1), France (6-1), Spain (6-1) and Argentina (6-1) are among the other top contenders in the eyes of oddsmakers. 

With so much parity among the top teams, the World Cup winner might seem up for grabs. But Thomas Rongen is highly confident he has the winner, and you need to see who he's taking.

The Dutch-American TV commentator boasts an incomparable soccer background -- assistant coach and chief international scout for the U.S. men's national team; MLS coach of the year; head coach of the U.S. men's under-20 team.

Following his breakdown of every World Cup roster and every potential matchup, Rongen locked in his four semifinalists and World Cup champion. 

We can tell you he has identified England as his sleeper pick, saying it has the pieces to make a deep run.

"If they can provide service for Harry Kane (30 goals in the Premier League last season), then England really doesn't have any weak points," Rongen told SportsLine. "Raheem Sterling has a breakout season for Manchester City, you've got a very special playmaker in Dele Alli, you've got Jordan Henderson who had a great year for Liverpool marshaling the midfield."

But while he likes England as a dark horse, that's not the team he's taking to win it all.

Based on his inside knowledge of these players and coaches, Rongen has isolated a critical x-factor that he says will determine the World Cup champion. He's sharing what that is, and who the winner will be, over at SportsLine.

Will Germany repeat? Will Brazil capture its first World Cup since 2002? Or will another contender win it all? Visit SportsLine now to see who you can bank on to win the 2018 World Cup, plus see which sleeper surprises international soccer, all from the Dutch-American soccer coach who served as the chief international scout for the U.S. men's national team.

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