WORLD CUP BETTING: Live on ITV1 & ITV4: Tue 15.00, BBC1 & BBC3: Tue 19.30: Day 12 of the WC; France v South Africa, Mexico v Uruguay, Greece v Argentina & South Korea v Nigeria in Groups A & B.
Given the controversial way in which they qualified, few tears will be shed if France are eliminated from the competition at the group stage and that looks a distinct possibility after Les Bleus were beaten 2-0 by Mexico on Thursday. Raymond Domenech’s beleaguered side have barely even created a chance in what has so far been a disappointing tournament for them and they will have to improve dramatically if they are to beat South Africa and keep alive their slim hopes of progression.
The hosts are also on the brink of an early exit and only a win for either team will do, but although it’s Domenech’s charges that are Paddy Power’s even money favourites for the points, they have done little so far to suggest they are worth backing while South Africa are too unpredictable to be a sensible investment at 3/1 (bet365). It’s worthwhile keeping stakes low then in this tough-to-call encounter, which is a tempting 11/8 courtesy of Betfred to produce fewer than 2.5 goals and 13/5 with Ladbrokes to finish all square.
Of course the result in Bloemfontein will be irrelevant if Mexico and Uruguay draw in Rustenburg as that pair will then qualify and noting as much, bookies actually make the stalemate odds-on at 5/6 (Betdaq). Neither side are likely to be particularly adventurous and a goalless first period looks a banker at evens with Partybets. In the correct score betting meanwhile, it’s a toss-up between 0-0 and 1-1; results rated at 12/5 and 7/2 by William Hill and Jaxx.com respectively.
In the climax to Group B, Nigeria will be out unless they beat South Korea and Greece lose to Argentina and the Super Eagles, despite being Jaxx.com’s 8/5 outsiders, can keep up their side of the bargain. Lars Lagerback’s side were a goal to the good and cruising against Greece when Sani Kaita was dismissed and they look to have been underestimated a touch here; although a lack of cutting edge is a worry against Huh Jung-Moo’s well-organised side.
It’s the South Koreans that are Totesport’s 4/6 favourites to join Argentina in the last 16 but the Greeks shouldn’t be ruled out in that department; Otto Rehhagel’s charges a 7/2 chance with the same firm to get through. Most bookies have assumed that Argentina, who are quoted by 888Sport at 4/7, will cruise to a third victory against Greece but Diego Maradona’s men might take their foot off the gas a touch and the defensively minded Greeks could scrap their way to a point (11/4, Stan James).
Argentina have looked strong in attack but vulnerable at the back and Rehhagel’s side should net so Victor Chandler’s 6/1 marked against a 1-1 scoreline stands out, while that bookie also offer hat trick hero Gonzalo Higuain at 5/4 to get on the scoresheet again.