The ‘Wait Until Next Year’ World Cup Preview and Betting Hell Special (Part One)
Hello 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
I’m hopeful England can overcome the lacklustre performances that characterised their final warm-ups (and that Rooney can stop swearing at referees long enough to score a goal or two). I’m torn between wanting to see the Argentina that produced Cambiasso’s goal after a billion passes last time out and the Argentina who collapse into in-fighting and punching opponents after losing. I’d quite like France to crash and burn, despite having backed them and loved their football at previous tournaments. Why? Because Ireland were cheated out of their chance to be at the World Cup finals and Thierry Henry ought to feel rather more shame than he appears to do. Austria putting one over the Germans would be fun, if unlikely.
England really haven’t been too impressive, have they? I really can see this being the same old story – qualifying from a sub-standard group, and then going out to the first decent side we play. As for Rooney, if he doesn’t get himself sent off I can see him getting himself injured, with the reckless way he sometimes plays. As for the rest of the team, they really need to string more than two passes together – whichever team that can keep possession the best will win this tournament.
There is so much talent in the Argentina squad, it will be almost a shame if they become a joke. But, much like with France and Germany, it’s always pleasing seeing one of our old rivals come a cropper!
I usually have Argentina as my outside bet for winning the tournament. Not so sure it’s a worthwhile notion this year. as you say they are amazingly talented but they are talented individuals who don’t always seem to gel as a team. Then again, Maradona wasn’t much of a team player himself, really.
Can’t understand Rooney’s sudden return to petulance as he’s calmed down a lot for Manchester United this season. Pulling on the England shirt seems to remind him of his demons.
Argentina’s trouble qualifying has to be a worry, as does Messi’s failure to transfer his Barcelona form to the national side. However…if everything clicks into place they have to be strong candidates. That is quite a big ‘if’, though. Also, Maradona has pledged to run through Buenos Aires naked if Argentina win the World Cup. And I’m not sure anybody is ready for that.
I can’t tell with Rooney if it is the old demons, or sheer frustration at his teammates around him. There’s an element of him trying to compensate for the lack of urgency and determination from the other 10 players. However, tearing around at 100mph at altitude isn’t going to do anyone any favours, so I don’t blame the rest of the team for not following his lead. We need more patience and ball-retention, not good-old-fashioned-English-grit.
It’s the same old story with England and altitude, isn’t it? Or humidity – Paul Scholes really looked uncomfortable for much of the 2002 World Cup but then he was struggling with asthma exacerbated by the climate. I do hope Gerrard can turn in Liverpool style performances as captain of England as it might help Rooney realise he;s not the only one prepared to chase every fifty-fifty ball.
Naked Maradona? No thanks, I’ve just had breakfast 🙂
The US sports network ESPN has a series of commercials where famous athletes appear in uniform as if they work at ESPN’s main offices. They’ve had baseball players, basketball players, football players, etc. They’ve even had Mr. Met appear in a handful of their commercials.
But now, in honor of the World Cup, we see that Landon Donovan is now “working” for ESPN: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J19-ROSfwY8
Thanks for the link, Julie – I like it! That’s actually pretty understated and well-thought-out compared to most other World Cup commercials…
I thought you might like it! 🙂
If you get a chance, check out some of the other “This is SportsCenter” (yes, SportsCenter is one word) commercials over at YouTube. Some of them are very clever, and you don’t even have to know much about US sports for a lot of them. David Wright is in one, as is Jose Reyes and, as I said before, Mr. Met is in several (there are obviously a lot of Mets fans at ESPN!).
[…] World Cup. But let’s not get carried away just yet, following my group predictions in Parts One and Two, here are my tips for the overall […]