With the biggest sporting tournament on the planet now just a couple of days away it’s time to look at which betting markets we can have a little flutter on to help keep us in the football mood until the League One fixtures are released at least.
The Football League’s primary sponsors, Sky Bet have a whole range of markets available and we take just a snap shot at them here.
World Cup Winner
It won’t come as any real surprise, but much like everyone else, I see the tournament as a two horse race between South America’s giants, Brazil and Argentina.
Sides used to the climate and environment scattered with players of world class ability and reasonably easy groups to boot to kick their tournaments off in nice, comfortable fashion.
The two teams head the betting with Brazil edging the odds as 3/1 favourites.
However, for me, it’s Argentina who I’ll be siding with at 4/1.
The front four of Aguero, Di Maria, Higuain and the second best player in the world, Lionel Messi are pretty much as good as it gets, with solid players like Javier Mascherano and Pablo Zabaleta keeping things tight at the back, their whole squad is ready to match anyone.
Added to this, Argentina have been playing competitive football in the build up to this tournament, Brazil qualified automatically and have only had a series of meaningless friendlies as preparation.
Quite how much you can read into a 6-0 win over Panama is questionable.
With off the field issues threatening to overshadow the hosts’ efforts I’ll be backing their noisy neighbours to lift the trophy.
I may be backing Messi’s men to triumph this summer, but I think the top scorer will come from the Samba boys of Brazil.
Argentina will share their goals out among a number of players, however Brazil are putting all their eggs in the Neymar basket.
Neymar has had an inconsistent season with Barcelona and has been restricted to a wide role, so I’m looking for the value elsewhere.
Fred is the striker of choice in this market; he’s at 18/1 to notch the most goals in the tournament.
He has been charged with leading the line in the build up to the tournament and scored in a 1-0 win over Serbia recently.
He also plays his club football in Brazil, no concerns over his ability to handle the heat, humidity and pressure of the supporters that might come with the likes of Thomas Muller, Cristiano Ronaldo or any other of the European front men.
18/1 is a shortened price as this was as big as 25/1 recently, so people are seeing this bet as value and bookmakers are responding.
For those looking for some longer odds for small each way bets, may I suggest Ciro Immobile of Italy, he’s 80/1, not bad for Serie A’s leading marksmen, and Carlos Bacca of Colombia who will have to take the place of Falcao, his 100/1 could look decent value if he has a good group stage.
The hopes of a nation are resting on the shoulders of Roy Hodgson and his troops. Led by Steven Gerrard the three lions have an exciting, young side with lots of attacking options and flair players without the baggage of previous tournaments.
The defence does look shaky and a lot will rest on the performances of Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka, but I’m staying positive.
Italy are notoriously bad at starting tournaments, with Balotelli set to keep Immobile out until the manager realises his error and makes the change they lack some on-form fire power too.
So, with all that in mind, I have three bets based around England.
Firstly, England to get exactly seven group points at 9/2, looks value. A draw against Italy followed up by wins over Uruguay and Costa Rica are the result I’m hoping for and it seems value for the fellow optimists out there.
With that group stage in mind, it would probably see us qualify; meeting one of Colombia, Ivory Coast, Japan or Greece in the second round isn’t to be sniffed at either.
Avoiding the football super powers until at least the Quarter Finals is a huge boost, but that’s where it will end for Hodgson.
So I’m tempted by the England to be eliminated at the Quarter Finals at 3/1.
Elsewhere, a lot has been made of Wayne Rooney’s performances and positioning over recent weeks and that has to get to the striker.
What we do know is that Daniel Sturridge will feature in his preferred position up front, with support from team mates, Gerrard, Sterling and Henderson he could be the man to fire England out of the group.
He missed a couple of great chances in the friendlies, but he was in the right place at the right time and more often than not he’ll find the net.
So, avoid Rooney and take Sturridge to be the top England scorer at 5/2.
Building on that ‘Top Team Scorer’ market we’ve mentioned with Sturridge, I’ve found a few others that may tempt you.
Edin Dzeko is likely to play a huge role in Bosnia’s tournament his big-league experience with Man City should mean he’s able to deal with Argentina and games against Nigeria and Iran won’t cause the big man any issues, so the 11/8 on him to notch more than any other Bosnian is a big price.
Ciro Immobile is next, he’ll probably start from the bench against Italy, but he’s the in-form striker in the Azzuri side and will be in the starting 11 soon enough. 22 goals in Serie A has alerted the big boys of Europe and Borussia Dortmund have swooped first, he’s in for Champions League football next season.
Combine these three in doubles and trebles with Sturridge in the England market and they combine at a 53/1 treble.
I wouldn’t put anyone off Lukaku for Belgium, Bacca for Colombia or Gyan for Ghana for the added value.
Normally, I like to try and find a Yeovil Town special for these bets, but this is the biggest show on earth, there wasn’t much to choose from.
In fact, the YTFC special has to revolve around Bosnia ‘keeper Asmir Begovic, the former Glovers loanee is a 50/1 shot for the Golden Glove award.
I think that Bosnia will progress out of the group and possibly provide the shock of the tournament and get slightly further than some expect, a good goalkeeper will be key to that.
I’ll be having a small bet on Begovic and hope the Stoke stopper can pay for some trips to away games by the time the season comes back around.
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Odds correct at time of writing, subject to change.
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