World Cup 2014 – Ready For The Italian Job?
World Cup 2014
Can Italy’s amazing record in major tournaments continue in the 2014 World Cup?
Four nations dominate the World Cup Outright Winner market at single figure odds, with hosts Brazil leading the way at 3/1. Neighbours Argentina are next at 9/2, followed by Germany at 6/1 and then defending champions Spain at odds of 13/2.
Brazil are deserved favourites on home soil and with a group of typically talented and exciting players. However, having not played a competitive match – the questionable Confederations Cup aside – since July 2011 there has to be some concerns on that front. The weight of expectation – bigger than for any other nation in the world – and ongoing unrest towards the tournament amongst the general Brazilian public are also negative marks next to Felipe Scolari’s men.
Argentina, led by Lionel Messi and with a favourable draw, are also worthy of their place at the head of the market and would, in my opinion, be a better bet than the hosts at odds of 9/2. Alejandro Sabella’s men comfortably topped the South American qualifying group and, man for man, have more match winners amid their ranks than the Brazilians.
Germany and Spain lead the European challenge but both look slightly too short for my liking. Each have tricky groups to negotiate, particularly Spain who may struggle to even progress beyond the groups and then could face Brazil in the last 16 if they do.
Solid Each-Way Bets
Italy’s record in major tournaments is second to none. Since 1982 they have won two world cups, reached three other major finals and two semi-finals
They qualified for this summer’s tournament with a minimum amount of fuss – securing their place with two games to spare – and have a couple of world class match winners in the shape of Mario Balotelli and Andrea Pirlo. At odds of 25/1 they simply cannot be ignored.
I also like the look of the similarly priced Colombia at 28/1. José Pékerman’s side finished two points behind Argentina in qualification and have only lost twice in 18 fixtures ahead of their World Cup preparation matches. Much will depend on the fitness of star striker Radamel Falcao, but if he is fit and firing then 28/1 could be a big price.
At bigger odds of 50/1, I also like South American outfit Chile who could spring a surprise with their all-out attacking style. Star player Alexis Sanchez hasn’t set the world alight since his move to Barcelona, but the direct style of football that Chile play is where he thrives.
Finally, Ivory Coast at odds of 125/1 are not without a chance of becoming African football’s first ever World champions. Yaya Toure was the star of Manchester City’s Premier League triumph and in Newcastle’s Cheick Tiote he has the defensive midfield partner he thrives. Didier Drogba is still a major threat in international football and Gervinho has been rejuvenated at Roma this season.
Drawn in a group alongside Greece, Colombia and Japan they’ve every chance of progressing to the knockout stages, and once there they’re capable of upsetting one or two of the bigger nations.