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England are the best backed side to win the World Cup as punters believe Football Is Coming Home

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Punters are growing in belief that England will win the World Cup
Punters are growing in belief that England will win the World Cup

England have become the best backed side to win the World Cup ahead of the semi-finals as belief continues to grow that Football Is Coming Home'

Since booking their place in the semi-finals for the first time since 1966, Sky Bet report that 42% of the bets placed on the outright market have been on the Three Lions emulating the heroes of 1966 while only 10% has been for their next opponents Croatia.

This is in contrast to the confidence in the side pre-tournament, when only 14% of bets placed in the World Cup winner market were for Gareth Southgate's youngsters squad to defy their inexperience and bring the trophy back home.

Here, we chart how the Sky Bet punters' faith in England's hopes has grown throughout what has been a gripping summer in Russia compared with the other remaining nations.

Pre-World Cup: Outright betting

(Percentage of stakes on the outright World Cup market before a ball was kicked)

  • England (14%)
  • France (14%)
  • Belgium (9%)
  • Croatia (1%)

Most popular selections at this stage

  • Brazil (21%)
  • Germany (16%)

When Gareth Southgate's side flew out to Russia there was generally a feeling of low expectation surrounding the team's chances of glory - with a quarter-final run perhaps being the best the nation could hope for.

With an average of 26, it was the youngest England squad taken to a World Cup since 1962 while at 24, Harry Kane was the youngest player to captain the Three Lions on the biggest stage. The previous youngest was of course Bobby Moore in 1966.

They were however, widely expected to qualify at 1/8 out of a group with Tunisia, Panama and Belgium although the latter were favourites at 8/11 to top the standings, with England priced at 5/4.

Interestingly, before a ball was kicked, only 1% of bets placed on the outright market were for Croatia.

Group Stages

(Percentage of stakes on the outright World Cup market during the group phrase)

  • England (22%)
  • Belgium (10%)
  • France (8%)
  • Croatia (5%)

Most popular other selections at this stage

  • Brazil (17%)
  • Germany (10%)

England needed a dramatic Harry Kane header to get their World Cup campaign off to a winning start after a frustrating 1-1 draw against a plucky Tunisia side looked on the cards.

Records were smashed in the next game as the Three Lions recorded their biggest ever World Cup win by trouncing Panama 6-1, with the help of a Kane hat-trick, causing momentum and excitement to build in equal measure.

With Southgate's men booked their place in the knockout stages with a game to spare, they could afford to rest players for what was effectively a 'dead rubber' against a Belgian B side although defeat in that game meant England ended up on the 'easier' side of the draw bracket.

While some of the more fancied nations - including eliminated Germany - made hard work of the group stages, Croatia were one of the most impressive sides as they won all three games but still only 5% of outright bets were placed on them.

Last 16

(Percentage of stakes on the outright World Cup market during the last 16)

  • England (31%)
  • France (14%)
  • Croatia (10%)
  • Belgium (7%)

Most popular other selections at this stage

  • Brazil (13%)

England finally ending that eternal wait to win a World Cup penalty shoot-out sent the nation into euphoria and now more fans than ever began to belief that football could indeed come home.

Although it wasn't the most of thrilling displays in 120 minutes - partly down to Colombia's tactics it must be said - the path to the final now looked very reachable with Sweden next and then either Russia or Croatia in the semis.

Interestingly, Belgium's unconvincing 3-2 win over Japan, in which they trailed 2-0, coupled with the fact they were next up against Brazil, meant Croatia became a more popular bet than Roberto Martinez's side in the outright market.

Quarter-Finals

(Percentage of stakes on the outright World Cup market during the QFs)

  • England (39%)
  • Belgium (22%)
  • France (14%)
  • Croatia (7%)

The mood of elation and expectation continued to grow when England eased to a pretty comfortable 2-0 victory over Sweden as they reached the World Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1990.

Few were expecting an upset to an opposition short of star names so it was no surprise to see England dominating the World Cup market at this stage, although interest in Belgium rocketed into second place as a result of their tremendous victory over previous tournament favourites Brazil.

Semi-Finals

(Percentage of stakes on the outright World Cup market between the end of QFs and start of SFs)

  • England (42%)
  • Belgium (28%)
  • France (20%)
  • Croatia (10%)

With the fearless youngsters one very winnable match away from the biggest spectacle of them all, it's no surprise to see England being the best backed side of the remaining quartet ahead of the semi-finals.

Belgium's stars remain the second most popular pick having beaten Brazil and boasting many familiar quality names in the squad while France, who haven't really set Russia alight as yet, are next in the running ahead of England's opponents Croatia.

But will punters' faith in England be rewarded?

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Sporting Life's Premier League preview package1

Saturday's Premier League tips

Get your Saturday Premier League coupon sorted with our previews, Super 6 predictions and best bets for all six of the 3pm kick-offs.

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Saturday's Bets of the Day

We have our best bets across a wide-range of sports for another packed Saturday of action.

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Saturday's Paper Talk

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The latest Sporting Life Accumulator4

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This week's Sporting Life Accumulator is a EFL four-fold, with the odds enhanced to 10/1 by the title sponsors Sky Bet.

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Sporting Life's Premier League preview package

Saturday's Premier League tips

Get your Saturday Premier League coupon sorted with our previews, Super 6 predictions and best bets for all six of the 3pm kick-offs.

The latest Sporting Life Accumulator

Sporting Life Accumulator

This week's Sporting Life Accumulator is a EFL four-fold, with the odds enhanced to 10/1 by the title sponsors Sky Bet.