WORLD CUP BETTING: Live from Fri 11th Jun: The 4 year wait is over and the FIFA World Cup is back! South Africa will host the truly global event as football fans all over get geared up for 1 month of football.
Fluttering flags on cars, pubs bracing themselves for drunken revelry, a sharp rise in flat screen TV sales and wives nationwide set to become football widows, there can be only one explanation; the World Cup is upon us.
All eyes on these shores of course will be on England, who head to South Africa as one of the favourites, having developed a more clinical, ruthless streak under the watchful eye of experienced coach Fabio Capello. Ladbrokes’ quote of 7/1 for them to lift the trophy reflects the regard in which the ‘Three Lions’ are now held with the canny Italian in charge and a kind draw, allied with a comfortable qualification campaign, means there are reasons to be confident.
At 1/14 (bet365) they should extend their campaign beyond the group phase and Betdaq’s 4/11 for them clinch top spot in Group C looks a solid bet but there are nagging doubts about England’s mental toughness and a possible over-reliance on the brilliant Wayne Rooney, a 10/1 chance with Victor Chandler to be the Golden Boot winner, so another near miss could be on the cards for Capello’s charges, who can plot a path to the semi-finals before making a customary exit via a penalty shootout.
With their major tournament hoodoo now behind them, European Champions Spain, at 4/1 (Paddy Power) have to be considered a major threat. They have quality all across the park and indeed it’s hard to find a weak link in their impressive squad. They also recorded a comfortable 2-0 victory against England just over a year ago and there are very few teams they would fear.
One side that could cause them trouble is Brazil. The five-time world champions are 5/1 (888Sport) to capture a sixth title and on their day they can blow teams away with their ruthlessness on the break. In Kaka they have one of the potential stars of the tournament and like Spain, they have few weaknesses so they should top Group G (8/13, Stan James). However, while a semi-final place beckons at the very least, Dunga’s men perhaps lack the central midfield creativity to unlock more defensively-minded teams if they fall behind. It would nevertheless be no surprise if they contested the final with Spain and that pair are priced at 10/1 by Totesport to go head-to-head at Soccer City on 11th July.
Germany are arguably the only other team with a realistic chance of success. Seemingly able to perform well even when the chips are down, Joachim Low’s troops are a team to write off at your peril and in this one, despite a few injury setbacks, they’re a decent each-way shout at 14/1 with Partybets given the consistency that has seen them reach the last eight in twelve of the last thirteen finals. Furthermore, Miroslav Klose has ten goals to his name in two World Cups and the prolific striker is 33/1 (Betfred) to be the tournament’s top scorer.
Reigning champions Italy are quoted by William Hill at 14/1 but have little prospect of defending their crown. The bulk of the 2006 team are now the wrong side of 30 and a lack of ready-made replacements means some could feature again this time around. That experience is valuable but there’s a sense that age may have caught up with one or two players, although a fortunate draw means they should top Group F according to Paddy Power, who make them 8/15.
Of the other supposed contenders, Argentina have been cut to 15/2 by Jaxx.com, however coach Diego Maradona’s selections are curious to say the least; he has omitted influential Inter pair Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Zanetti for starters and having struggled to qualify they seem more likely to self-destruct than string together a winning run.
The Netherlands are also known for imploding and although there seems to be a little more harmony in the Dutch camp this time around, potential defensive problems mean bet365’s 11/1 doesn’t appeal while France (20/1, Stan James), who will find it hard to thrive under the unorthodox Raymond Domenech, looked decidedly average both in qualifying and recent friendlies.
Like Les Bleus, Portugal (28/1, Victor Chandler) don’t appear to be in the best of shape and that pair could be shock first round casualties; a double priced at just shy of 7/1 by William Hill. Finally, in terms of qualifications; an accumulator on Ivory Coast, USA, Greece, Chile, Mexico and the defensively sound Serbs, will net punters a return at a stunning 40/1 courtesy of Paddy Power, if all six reach the second round.