The ‘Wait Until Next Year’ World Cup Preview and Betting Hell Special (Part One)

by Steve

Argentina fan sees a penalty saved in the last World CupHello all of you who have come across my little ol’ corner of the web via your search for ‘England flag‘, it’s good to see you! And to all my regulars, welcome back! Business, as they say, is about to pick up, with the World Cup just a matter of days away. So, how about a preview? And how about a guide to how I will be wasting my money with a series of glorious gambles and pensive punts for all of you out there?See, I figured it made sense to combine my thoughts for how the World Cup might pan out, with my generally awful betting predictions as I go along. I’ve been getting more and more excited about the World Cup over the past couple of weeks. As a dyed-in-the-wool Liverpool supporter, having Stevie Gerrard take over as England captain has certainly helped. So has reading the variety of previews on the web and in the newspapers.

While I can’t see England winning, they will no doubt do just enough to get my hopes up before dashing them cruelly. But also, I want to enjoy the World Cup in a ‘purer’ footballing sense.

Euro 2008 has to have been one of my favourite international tournaments ever, and I think it was because with England not qualifying I didn’t get bogged down in partisan sentiments and could just sit back and enjoy each game. I will try my best to avoid England-induced disillusionment over the next month. I think we’re going to have some great games on our hands.

We should see some attractive football from the likes of Spain, Brazil, Holland and Mexico. We’ll have the circus of Maradona’s Argentina to enjoy. France look set to be hopeless. The likes of Serbia, Denmark and Chile might spring one or two surprises.

From a betting perspective there are all manner of fun markets to pick from. I’m trying to avoid too many odds-on bets, as that is the path to ruin. It only takes a couple of upsets and profits soon disappear. Instead, using my half-arsed personal punditry plus an already well-thumbed Racing Post World Cup special, I’ve tried to pick out a few value bets worth shelling out a mighty 50p or a pound on. Don’t worry, dear reader, this will not be the chronicle of my bankruptcy…and remember, bet only what you can afford to lose, especially if following any of these tips!

Disclaimer of sorts: the odds I’ve quoted are ones I’ve seen advertised, but may well not be available now, knowing my luck, as I haven’t actually placed these bets yet. Hopefully, the bookies of the world will read this, see my abysmal betting record and lengthen the odds accordingly. If you want to see the latest and best odds, try something like Oddschecker.

So, finally, nearly 500 words in…my World Cup preview and top tips, starting with the group stages, Groups A to D.

Group A

A funny group, this. Disaster looks to be just around the corner for the French, South Africa are perhaps the least inspiring hosts ever (in purely footballing terms, at least) while Mexico and Uruguay are outsiders at best. Saying that, Mexico have looked strong in the pre-tournament friendlies and have a good record against Uruguay, so I think they could top the group, at odds of around 10-3. Meanwhile 5-2 for France to fail to qualify could be a sound investment too.

Group B

Argentina should walk this group, depending on what wacky antics Maradona gets up to. There doesn’t seem much to choose between Greece, Nigeria and South Korea, so from a betting perspective I think I’ll leave this group alone.

Group C

England are the strong favourites for what on first glance appears an easy group. I think, however, that people are underestimating the USA. At 14 in the FIFA rankings, they are no minnows and that first game could prove tricky for England, who are perennially slow starters to tournaments. So, I’m tempted to have a little flutter on USA to beat England on Saturday, at odds of 13-2, which seem pretty big to me.

Group D

This looks to be a particularly tasty group, with Germany, Australia, Serbia, and to a lesser extent, Ghana. Serbia seem to be many pundits pick as a dark horse this time around, and if every team drops points I can see them doing quite well in this group. 10-11 on them qualifying or 10-3 on them winning the group don’t seem like bad options at all.

Well, that’s me tipped out for one day, and I might as well spin this out over a few days, eh? In the next installment I’ll take a look at Groups E to H, and then, after that, I’ll make my overall tournament predictions and see what other betting markets are worth a look.

How do you think Groups A to D will go?

Image by Ali Brohi via Flickr