Richard Buxton: Germany will be first to retain World Cup since 1962
No reigning world champions have retained their title in over 56 years. Germany represent history's best chance of a long overdue repeat performance.
All the favourites in Russia have key motives for going all the way; Brazil have the hurt of a 2014 humiliation at the hands of Die Mannschaft in their own backyard to avenge.
Shifting misconceptions make the Selecao a firm favourite. Tite wants to prove that they are not just a one-man team while Neymar, similarly, aims to disprove that he is an expensive flop.
Argentina and Portugal are hellbent on settling the debate about which of their respective talismans, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, is the undisputed G.O.A.T (greatest of all-time).
Yet the odds are increasingly stacked in favour of Joachim Loew's side to win again.
Real Madrid's autonomous decision to prematurely crown Julen Lopetegui as their new coach has already derailed Spain's best-laid plans.
The 2010 champions allowed hearts to rule heads as they did away with a coach who had yet to lose a competitive game.
Impatience became detrimental to La Furia Roja's likely downfall, while Loew's side have chosen a route of quiet self-improvement.
Unlike most of their closest challengers, they benefit from the endeavour of many rather than relying on a precious few.
They will not be revered in the same way that Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Mueller and Lothar Matthaeus have captured hearts, but Loew's men are again primed for greatness after an underwhelming Euro 2016 exit.
Domination was always on the periphery in France, despite overwhelming most matches, while their reliance on more senior figures was, at times, incredibly telling.
Loew has addressed those shortcomings by blooding in more formidable options into his squad.
His new options include Bayern Munich's new recruit Leon Goretzka and RB Leipzig's prodigious goal-getter Timo Werner.
Loew's team continually evolve and draw on a collective strength.
Only Brazil and Italy have captured back-to-back World Cups. There could soon be company on the international footballing pantheon.