Punting on the World Cup
My software says Spain beat Brazil in the Final, but it also shows this World Cup as the most open ever, with at least eight teams in with a real shout.
It shows that the South American and African teams are generally overrated by the bookies, whilst the European teams are under rated. The old chestnut that a European team can’t win the World Cup in South America is a load of old boll**ks. There hasn’t been one held there since 1978, and in that one Holland hit the post in the last minute of injury time at 1-1, before Argentina won in injury time.
The software shows that the top three South American teams, in order, are Brazil, Argentina and Columbia. But it shows these teams as just about identical in ability. In detailed terms, over a simulation of 1,000 matches the average goal difference between Brazil and Columbia would be 0.14 goals. i.e very close. Furthermore, the next two South American teams, Chile and Uruguay are not far behind the top three.
Big difference with the European teams where, in order, Spain, France and Germany are quite some way clear of the other sides.
Re England, to me it’s all about getting a result in the first game against Italy. It’s hard to forget the football lesson we were given by the Italians at Euro 2012, where we were totally outplayed. But, that game ended 0-0 at 90 mins. On paper, the England side is not as strong now as it was then whilst the Italians are about the same, but England have looked pretty good in qualifying and some friendlies. Meanwhile the Italians, after qualifying well, have had some poor results in warm up games. Too close to call.
Big problem for England is that they are based at sea level but play an acclimatised Uruguay in the second game at altitude. England are really going to struggle in this game, especially if Gerrard plays as badly as he normally does in an England shirt, repeatedly hitting “Hollywood” passes and giving away possession cheaply.
On the betting side, as always, it’s not about identifying the most likely winner, but finding a team that has a realistic chance of winning at value odds.
So, I have just placed the biggest bet of my life on FRANCE, each way at 25/1.
The French needed a play off against Ukraine to qualify, but only just lost out to Spain for top spot in their group. They drew in Spain and were unlucky to lose 1-0 at home to the Spanish, having the best of the game and hitting the woodwork three times.
They showed unusual tenacity and team spirit to overcome a two goal deficit from the first leg of the play off, and they have looked very sharp in the warm up games.
The squad is very deep and top class back to front, with goals all over the place. The icing on the cake is the injury to Ribery, who has been poor this season for Bayern and is not exactly a team player. Paul Pogba is arguably the best young midfielder in the world and seems to be getting better match by match, whilst Cabaye could be the star of the tournament. It’s no coincidence that Newcastle’s form plummeted the moment he left in January.
The second bet is COLUMBIA, each way at 40/1. They are just about as good as Brazil or Argentina but are at least ten times the odds. Just pipped for top spot in the South American qualifying by Argentina, they are a solid hard working side who disguise the lack of pace in the centre half area by packing the midfield and hitting opponents with lightening fast counter attacks. Loads of goal threats throughout the side, including set pieces, mean the abscence of Falcao has probably been overstated. The draw has been kind to the Columbians, and they are just the sort of team who can beat anyone in 90 minutes come the knock out stages.
Finally I will have a saver bet on the best team in the tournament, Spain at 6/1, plus chuck a few quid at the most likely final, Spain v Brazil at 12/1.
By Tim Dykes / Photo: CARSTEN REHDER/dpa
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