WORLD CUP BETTING: Live on ITV: Sat 19.30: An nation expects! England face USA in Group C; all eyes are watching and hoping, but some will be wary of slipping up.
From the players’ suits to the meals scoffed on the squad’s flight to South Africa, the minutiae of England’s preparations for the World Cup have been covered in punishing detail over the last few weeks; but it’s finally time for the talking to stop and the actual football to start as Fabio Capello’s men open their campaign against the USA in Rustenburg’s Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
They kick-off as emphatic favourites for the points at 1/2 with Stan James, despite the absence of skipper Rio Ferdinand, but an energetic American outfit, outsiders at 13/2 courtesy of totesport, are set to make life a touch more difficult for Capello’s men than the odds suggest.
Given their sketchy performances in recent friendly encounters it would not be a surprise if England started the competition sluggishly and Bob Bradley’s men could secure a draw in this one; a result chalked up by Bet365 at 7/2 and one that wouldn’t be a disaster for either side. Alternatively the US are handed a goal start in the handicaps by Betfred at odds of 6/4 while those punters eyeing that stalemate quote can also back the contest at 8/1 (Betdaq) to finish one-each.
With both teams looking to find their feet in the tournament, a relatively cautious start is likely and a goalless first half at 2/1 with Victor Chandler isn’t out of the question. Certainly, the opening strike looks likely to arrive after the 25th minute, a scenario quoted by Paddy Power at even money but it may not necessarily be an England player that grabs it; their opponents catching the eye at 13/5 (William Hill) to break the deadlock.
Capello’s charges are nevertheless odds-on at 7/20 (Jaxx.com) to break the deadlock but they conceded first against Japan recently, looked shaky defensively against Mexico, particularly in the first half and aren’t helped by the loss of the injured Ferdinand. Subsequently, USA, who are 4/5 with Partybets to get on the scoresheet, are priced at a tasty 13/5 by William Hill to take a 1-0 lead.
Bearing that in mind Wayne Rooney and Peter Crouch, at 10/3 (Totesport) and 5/1 (Stan James) respectively, are a touch risky in the first scorer betting, where bet365’s 14/1 posted against an opener for former Everton attacker Landon Donovan seems a touch high. Instead, a modest flutter on the towering Crouch, who is prolific at international level, to net at any point could be the way forward; Victor Chandler quoting the Spurs man at 8/5.