World Cup Betting: Can Spain Defend Their Title

Richard O'Hagan

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 8:10 PM GMT

Reigning world champions, reigning champions of Europe, blessed with some of the greatest talent in current world football, there seems no reason not to back Spain to win this competition.

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Except that there is a real sense that the rest of the world has begun to catch up with Vincente del Bosque’s team, that maybe La Seleccion are no longer quite the class apart that they were in 2010. That’s reflected in odds of 8.0 at Bwin to win the trophy, whilst 888.com will give 5.5 on them going out as early as the second round.

Part of the reason for those odds is the tough draw they have had, with 2010’s beaten finalists the Netherlands also in there. Whoever wins that group will have a relatively easy second round against either Croatia or Mexico. Come second, though, and you get the pleasure of playing Brazil!

Spain’s success has been built around an almost indomitable midfield of Xavi, Xabi Alonso and Andres Inestia, with Pedro linking the three of them with the attack. The problem recently has been up front, where David Villa has struggled with form and injuries, whilst Fernando Alonso has also had to contend with a lack of playing time at club level when fit. Younger players such as Diego Costa and Alvaro Negredo have stepped into that breach and are now 4.0 and 5.0 respectively to top score in the tournament for Spain, but at 9.0 it is Pedro who looks the better value here, especially as the actual number of goals scored by any one individual may be quite small.

Spain are another side it is hard to see missing out on a semi-final, even if it is against Brazil. They are 6.5 to go out at that stage with Bet365 and that looks like a very good price indeed.