The new edition of the women’s team competition is going to start this weekend and the bookmakers have already published the odds for the outright market, so let’s take a closer look at the eight teams and their chances.

Event: Fed Cup 2015

Petra Kvitova

Source: Christian Mesiano @ Flickr

Selection: Czech Republic

Best Odds: 3.50 @ Pinnacle

The Canadians are currently priced as the biggest underdogs and very rightly so, as they will need a tremendous amount of luck in order to make it past the Czech Republic in the very first round. Eugenie Bouchard isn’t going to participate in the tie, which means that Sharon Fichman will be their team leader – and, with all due respect, the entire team looks rather average in comparison to the Czech one, which has a lot of depth these days. With Kvitova and Safarova possibly joining in the later rounds, the Czech Republic once again seems to be the team to beat – there is simply too much of power and versatility in it.

The contest between France and Italy might look very interesting on paper, but neither of the two teams is likely to win the tournament if we are to be absolutely honest. Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci aren’t as good as they once were, while Camila Giorgi and Karin Knapp are just too inconsistent to be relied upon. There’s a lot of talent on the French side in the form of Cornet, Garcia, and Mladenovic, but there isn’t a great deal of experience and consistency. Both should be happy with a win in the first round – winning against the Czechs in the second will be incredibly hard, however.

The return of Maria Sharapova to the Russian team should naturally be a really nice boost, but will she really give it her absolute best or will she be there primarily in order to qualify for the Olympic Games? That’s a tough question to answer – in any case, the Russian should make it past Poland in the first round, as the Poles have just one top player in their team at the moment, but it’s not easy to be optimistic about the future.

Finally, there’s also the first round tie between Germany and Australia, which could possibly be the most intriguing clash of them all, as both teams pack some real punch. However, only the Germans can reasonably think about winning the entire thing – after the defeat in the finals last year, however, that will be a very demanding task even if the top four players stay healthy throughout.

Considering all this, there really seems to be only one possible choice here from the betting point of view. The Czech team is just too compact, too experienced, and too good. And yes, it also has a lot of depth, with the top three being Petra Kvitova (the current world’s number four), Lucie Safarova (#15), and Karolina Pliskova (#22). Back the defending champions this year – it would be a big shock to see them lose before the finals.