If you find that trying to pick the outright winner of the 2014 World Cup is a little risky, then one way to find less adventurous odds – or, alternatively, to have an insurance bet against your chosen winner not actually winning! – is to play in the regional market.
The World Cup betting markets broadly divide themselves into the six FIFA regions, although as most markets amalgamate the Asia and Oceania regions into one ‘Rest of the World’ market, we shall do the same.
Top South American Team
With Brazil and Argentina the two favourites for the tournament, it makes sense to start in this market. At present, Brazil lead the way here, too, with a best price of 2.2 at Paddy Power, whilst Argentina are 2.79 at Betfair. Although we have said elsewhere that it is unlikely that either side will actually win the tournament, remember that this isn’t the option you are betting on here. Both should make it to the semi-final at least and to do that they will both have to beat other South American teams along the way. With that in mind, Argentina actually look the better value bet here.
Top European Side
The other favourites for the tournament as a whole come from Europe, and indeed the market below Argentina and Brazil is entirely European. There are far more options here, with European sides making up 13 of the 32 nations competing. Germany are favorites at 3.25 with Bet365, with Spain at 4.33 with BetVictor. The best outside bet here looks to be Italy, at 13.0 pretty much across the board. They have a few obstacles to overcome, such as getting out of the tournament’s toughest group, Group D, but if they do that they should be strong contenders. Bear in mind, though, that they could face Spain in the knockout stages, so be wary of backing both of them.
Top African Side
No side from outside Europe or South America has ever lifted this trophy and looking at both current form and the draw that record is unlikely to be broken this time around. This therefore represents a good way to make money on these teams. On paper, Ghana are the strongest side, but they have a job to get out of Group G. Ivory Coast are favourites at 2.5 with Paddy Power and have a good chance of making the playoffs, but don’t discount Cameroon in Group A. They have a decent opportunity to reach the second round and at 11.0 with BetFred offer some value.
Top North American Side
Sadly for the competition, it looks likely that no side from this region will make the playoffs, meaning that the team with the most group points will bring you the money. That means that you need to ensure that the place you wager will pay out in the event of a tie. Mexico are 1.91 favourites at BetFred, but their recent form has been unconvincing and they could actually come bottom of their group. This makes the USA a better bet at 2.62 with Paddy Power a good option. Although if you think all four sides could end up propping up their respective groups, then Honduras at 19.0 with Betway is clearly the best option.
Top Rest of the World Side
Be careful how you play these soccer odds, because some bookmakers are lumping the Central American sides in here as well as the North American one. That lengthens the odds across the board but also could leave you open to losses in both markets. Japan are decent priced favourites at 2.75 with Bwin and have a chance of making it through, although if they do it would be at the expense of Ivory Coast from the African market, so be careful how you place your bets.