Who are you backing? That’s the question every soccer fan is asking as the 2018 World Cup in Russia descends upon us. The answers vary from supporter to supporter with at least five countries among the favorites to pick up the famous Fifa World Cup Trophy.

Germany, the defending champions, along with Brazil, France, Spain and Argentina are the favorites going into the tournament, but other countries like England, Belgium and Portugal are also likely to be in the reckoning if they progress to the latter stages of the tournament. 

The group stages of the tournament begins June 14 with a number of big matches lined up in the initial stages. The 2010 winners, Spain, are in the same group as Euro 2016 winners Portugal, while England and Belgium are in the same group.

All the major European countries along with the two South American big guns - Argentina and Brazil - are expected to make it out of the group stages and into the knockout rounds. After which it will be a matter of which country plays better on the day, and there is certain to be some upsets - a norm at every major tournament. 

The University of Innsbruck, Austria, conducted an extensive research with the help of statistics and bookmakers odds to pick out the two countries that have the best chance of lifting the trophy in Moscow on July 15.

Fifa World Cup trophy The 2018 FIFA World Cup begins June 14 with the final on July 15. In this picture, the World Cup winner's trophy is seen during the 68th FIFA Congress at the Expocentre in Moscow on June 13, 2018. Photo: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images

According to the university, Brazil and Germany will play each other in the final of the 2018 World Cup. Both the teams are said to have statistically the best chance of winning this summer’s showpiece event in Russia.

“The most likely final with a probability of 5.5 percent is also a match between these two teams, giving Brazil the chance to make up for the dramatic semi-final of 2014,” professor Achim Zeileis from the Department of Statistics at the University of Innsbruck said via a press release.

Their statistical model believes Brazil has a 16.6 percent chance of winning the title with Germany following close behind at 15.8 percent. Their model has predicted the potential finalists, but it is unable to pick a clear winner among the two nations.

Behind Brazil and Germany, the two other nations in with a chance are Spain – 12.5 percent and France – 12.1 percent, which therefore suggests that the semi-final will be between the four nations.

Zeileis, however, made it clear they only deliver probabilities and not certainties as it proved when they used their statistical model for the 2016 European Championships. They had predicted a victory for the France the host team, but it ended up being a narrow victory for Portugal in extra-time.

“If Gignac had scored the goal in added time against Portugal rather than just hitting the post, our forecast would have been just right,” Zeileis said.

“It is in the very nature of predictions that they can be wrong, otherwise football tournaments would be very boring. We only deliver probabilities and not certainties,” the statistics professor added.