This afternoon 32 teams begin the fight to be crowned World Cup winners on July 11th. Well, strictly speaking only four teams play today but let’s not be pedantic. There’s a wealth of potential bets to place and some potentially big winnings to be had. I’m sure everyone has their opinion on what will happen so here’s my pick.
Eyes on the prize.
The top three teams in the winner market are Spain at 4/1, Brazil at 5/1 and Argentina at 8/1. There’s not a great deal of value there but of the three I have Brazil as my favourite to win. They’re solid at the back with all the Inter defenders and also play two defensive midfielders to back them up. Up front Kaka is still a great player while Luis Fabiano is an effective striker.
If all three of those teams win their groups, Spain are scheduled to face Argentina in one semi-final which makes it trickier to back them over Brazil. You could go with naming the finalists – Brazil/Spain is about 10/1 while Brazil/Argentina is as high as a tempting 18/1.
Personally I think I’ll be going for all three teams to qualify from their groups with a maximum nine points. In that regard Brazil are 9/4, Spain 6/5 and Argentina 12/5. The risky treble is about 24/1.
Favourites to double up.
If Things Go Their Way
Here we have the likes of England, Holland, Germany and Italy. All good sides but probably not a match for the three favourites. Betting on England is always a mug’s game in my eyes. The bookies have them down at 8/1 which is mainly to protect themselves from Dave the Daily Star reader who puts heart before head.
That said Capello and a fit Rooney is a far better prospect then the Eriksson and unfit Rooney of four years ago. In reality I think the semi’s (11/8) are the absolute limit for England but there’s a potentially tricky second round match against the group B runners-up which could see them knocked out early.
I like the look of Holland and they have some brilliant attacking options. Whether their defence holds up against top opposition is another story and whichever way they look at it they’re going to meet Spain or Brazil in a quarter-final. However, what’s betting without some fun risk involved so why not a cheeky pound on them to win the whole thing at 9/1? Thinking about it I think they’ll be a good team to bet on a match by match basis come the knock-out stages. Personally I’ll be looking at Robin van Persie to do some goalscoring damage. More on that later.
Never write off Germany. 12/5 for the semi finals. I’ll have some of that.
Keep looking Wayne, you won't win it.
In my mind there are two teams who are ripe to flop completely and not qualify from their group – France and Portugal. I have different reasons for both. France are an ageing team and somehow still have Raymond Domenech as their coach. Some of his decisions are baffling. In fact no, most of his decisions are baffling. The senior players still have too much say and there’s talk of infighting within the squad.
Their group is on paper not too hard which is why this is an interesting bet. Uruguay should qualify and part of me thinks that South Africa will get a win in the opening game and somehow find a way to qualify in second. I’m sure Sepp will sort something out… The odds aren’t great – only 2/1 so maybe it’s better value to bet on the Uruguay and Mexico/South Africa forecast instead (13/1 or 21/1). On the other hand all the great players in their squad might have one last great hurrah.
Portugal in contrast are in the so-called group of death – Brazil, Ivory Coast and North Korea being their opponents. Brazil will top this group so I think it’s a straight fight for second between two of the biggest divas in the World Cup; Drogba and Ronaldo. I think the latter loses out, thus a Brazil/Ivory Coast forecast is a nice 11/4.
This will happen again. Though without Big Phil.
Each Way Long Shots
Serbia and Uruguay seem to be getting a lot of love as teams who could go further than expected. They’re on the right side of the draw in terms of ‘only’ having Brazil instead of Spain and Argentina. At 40/1 and 66/1 respectively, they’re fantastic each-way bets. Both are technically good with differing strengths; Serbia having a top defence while Uruguay have Forlan and Suarez up front.
Top goalscorer bets are always fun and if you consider that six goals was the winning total for six straight World Cups from 1978 to 1998 you only need a bit of luck to win on a high-priced each way bet. Germany’s Miroslav Klose won with five goals in 2006 and he again is fantastic each way value this time round at a general 33/1.
Holland have a group without any particularly defensive teams meaning Robin van Persie could fill his boots and be overall winner at 12/1. If you look at who’s facing the weakest teams (North Korea and New Zealand) then perhaps Luis Fabiano of Brazil at 10/1 or Italy’s Di Natale at 50/1 could be worth a shout. Suarez of Uruguay can be found as high as 100/1 and if you think three goals was enough for second last time round it’s worth placing a pound or two on him.
Your top goalscorer. Maybe...