This time tomorrow, the World Cup will have kicked off, and I, along with many others, will be spicing up the matches with a bet or two. Historically, I’ve always done quite well with the World Cup by following some golden rules, which are as follows:
- Bet on African and Asian nations to do well. They are always underestimated.
- There is more to South America than Brazil and Argentina.
- Never ever ever ever ever ever ever bet on England to do well.
That these rules stand you in good stead is no fault of the bookies – it is supply and demand. Pick anyone in the street and ask them who will have a good World Cup, and you’ll never hear an answer outside the top European nations, Brazil and Argentina. I’m not saying an African side will lift the trophy, but sometimes you can get extremely generous odds on them just escaping the group stage.
The more observant among you may have noticed the betting tracker on the right hand side of the screen, which will list each of the bets throughout the course of the competition, with recent wins and losses displayed alongside all remaining open bets. There is also a Twitter hashtag against which they will be listed – #groanswcbets – you can search for them using this link. If you are a Twitter user, feel free to add your comments or suggested bets – if you add the hashtag to the tweet it will appear in the search. If Twitter is not your thing, you can always comment on this post instead.
So, without further ado, here are the first ten tips (and yes, I am staking my own money on these). All the bets are placed with Sportingbet, as they do excellent odds and a very wide range of bets.
1. Holland the win the World Cup – 9/1
Might as well start with the big one. The Dutch are a mercurial nation – talented, yet like Spain prior to 2008, they inexplicably fail in major tournaments. But they seem more united than usual this year, and have the talent to go all the way. A look at their squad makes it mystifying that no-one is tipping them to lift the trophy, as they are unlikely to face a major challenge until the quarter finals – an easy group should be followed by whichever of New Zealand, Paraguay and Slovakia accompanies Italy into the knockout stages. Their only potential problem is one familiar to English fans – the prospect of penalties (they are the only nation with a worse record).
2. Luis Fabiano to be top scorer – 11/1
The Brazilian striker is a bit special – 25 goals in 38 international appearances, 90 in 152 for Sevilla. Top scorer in the Confederations Cup last year, he is proven at all levels, and with Brazil playing North Korea intheir opening match, he has a great chance to get off to a flyer. The bookies may favour either of the Spanish pairing, or Lionel Messi (who has a poor record for his country), but Fabiano is my pick.
3. South Africa to qualify from their group – 7/4
Host nations never go out in the group stage. In 2002, the world was convinced that the statistic would change, but both Japan and South Korea confounded their critics, and South Africa are likely to do the same. France are exceptionally wobbly, Mexico hit and miss and Uruguay poor outside South America. The odds on the host nation progressing are exceptionally generous.
4. North Korea to score at least twice in the tournament – 11/8
Yes, they are in a tough group, and yes, they are the lowest ranked team in the tournament, but an impressive qualifying campaign suggests that North Korea are better than the whipping boy status they have been given. Scoring twice in three games is a perfectly reasonable ask, especially given that Brazil and the Ivory Coast are not known for keeping clean sheets.
5. France to go out in the group stage – 15/8
Blessed with a terrific set of players, the French squad is nonetheless an uneasy place. A loss to China last week, questions over team selection (although reports of infighting are exaggerated), and the second barmiest manager at the tournament (behind Maradona) is not a recipe for success. The bookies tip them to qualify with Mexico, but as I said earlier, the hosts cannot be discounted, and Uruguay famously denied them eight years ago. France could be the big casualty of the group stage.
6. Chile to get 4-5 points – 11/5
Group H should be hard fought. Spain are the clear favourites, while Honduras look set for disappointment, but Switzerland and Chile will be fighting for qualification. Assuming Chile beat Honduras, a couple of tight draws would leave them on five points, and even a loss to Spain drops them to four. Either is very possible, and as a result these odds seem very generous.
7. Serbia to win Group D – 11/4
Germany’s presence in the group automatically puts them as favourites to progress in top spot, but Serbia were also underdogs in their qualifying campaign, where they forced France into that playoff with a string of impressive performances. Now ranked 15th in the world, they are a close-knit squad that are undoubtedly my dark horses.
8. South Africa v Mexico to finish 1-1 – 5/1
Moving on to the individual matches, and I’m tipping a stalemate in the opening game, but not a goalless one. Both sides carry a threat going forward, but are vulnerable at the back, and if the score is level going into the last ten minutes, both may settle for not losing their first match.
9. France v Uruguay to be heavy on the cards – 8/5
These two have history. Eight years ago Henry was sent off when the teams met in a crucial match that eventually helped eliminate France, then holders. These days, Uruguay rely on Forlan and Suarez up front, but behind them is a bruising team full of players sure to catch the eye of the referee, while France themselves are known to get riled a little easily. The referee for the match is Japan’s Yuichi Nishimura, who can be card-happy, and so the odds on more than sixty points (ten for a yellow, twenty five for a second yellow or a straight red) looks a great prospect.
10. England and USA to draw – 14/5
Four times in the last twenty years, England have drawn their opening match of a major tournament, and with USA favourites to join them in the knockout stages, a repeat would not be the disgrace the media would likely label it. With Algeria and Slovenia to come, a point for each side would be a reasonable start, and as ever, betting against England carries fantastic odds.
And there you have it. There will be plenty more bets to come as the tournament progresses, but these ten all strike me as potential winners. You can keep up to date with the successes and failures of these tips and those that follow by watching the tracker to the right. Enjoy!
One day to go. I’m excited. Are you?