World Cup 2014 should be a corker as host nation, Brazil are five-time winners, and the first of 64 matches at the World Cup Finals kicks off in Sao Paulo on June 12th and your Humble Handicapper is busy as a Brazilian builder keeping on top of all the world cup gossip.
The big breaking news is that France midfielder Franck Ribery, might just miss the World Cup as he is struggling to recover from a back injury. France are expected to make it out of their Group, Group E, anyway. As they go up against Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras. Ribery may be 66/1 to be the tournament’s top scorer but France are 9/1 to reach the final, and 22/1 to win it.
England run as high as 28/1 with the sportsbooks to win the World Cup, but the good news that your Humble Handicapper has heard on the grapevine is that former Brazilian defender, Cafu, reckons England can potentially win the World Cup. When you consider that the sportsbooks have the best soccer odds on England winning their first match against Italy at 11/5, the draw at 2/1 and an Italy win at 13/8, you’ll see that there is a huge difference between “can potentially win” and “will win”.
The latest gossip from the England camp is that coach Roy Hodgson plans to give Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling his chance at a starting place in the World Cup by playing him in an experimental line-up in their penultimate warm-up match on Wednesday night against Ecuador. Also in that same match, expect Rickie Lambert to lead England’s attack after completing his Liverpool transfer.
Speaking of Liverpool
Uruguay are refusing to confirm, or deny, that Luis Suarez will miss out on this summer's World Cup in Brazil. After his massive 31-goal season with Liverpool, all England-eyes were worried that he would herald an early exit for the England squad, but last Thursday he underwent keyhole surgery to repair damage to his left knee, a procedure which usually leads to around six weeks out of action. My spies tell me that Suarez is anxious to represent his country. Watch this space…. Suarez is currently a cheeky 23/1 to be the tournament’s top scorer, certainly worth a bet – even with his knee in the balance.
The defending champions, Spain, have announced their 23-man squad for the Brazil World Cup. The squad doesn’t feature Manchester City stars Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas, nor Sevilla’s Alberto Moreno, Real Madrid’s Daniel Carvajal, Juventus’ forward Fernando Llorente, nor Athletic Bilbao’s Ander Iturraspe. The EPL is strongly conspicuous with Manchester United pair, David De Gea and Juan Mata, joining up with Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla, not to mention Manchester City playmaker, David Silva, and Chelsea pair Cesar Azpilicueta and Fernando Torres have also been called up.
Spain are offered up at best soccer odds of 6/1 to win the World Cup in Brazil. That’s tied third favourite with Germany and if you don’t like betting on favourites, you could do a lot worse than have a punt on Spain.
Speaking of Man Utd (sort of)
Manager in-waiting and Netherlands manager, Louis van Gaal, has finalised his national squad ahead of next month’s Brazil KO. His new side’s striker, Robin van Persie, plus Newcastle United goalkeeper Tim Krul, and Aston Villa defender Ron Vlaar, all made the cut, while Swansea City pair Michel Vorm and Jonathan de Guzman, and midfielder Leroy Fer of (recently relegated) Norwich City, also have a seat on the plane. Conspicuous by their absence are Chelsea left-back Patrick van Aanholt, Jeroen Zoet, Quincy Promes, Jean-Paul Boetius, Karim Rekik and Tonny Vilhena.