With the start of Brazil 2014 a little over a month away, it is a good time to consider placing a bet on the overall winner of the competition. We analyze who the odds makers are favoring and determine our favorite World Cup picks to win overall.
Picking the overall winner of any competition far in advance is always going to be tricky, but the good thing about a World Cup finals pick is that, unlike most competitions, the number of potential winners is really quite small and yet the odds on any one contender are often rather generous. Let us take a look at some of the potential bets in this market.
Hosts and five time winners Brazil are 4.0 to win in pretty much every market. In some respects, this is understandable. They have appeared in more World Cup finals than anyone bar Germany, they have home advantage and they have a relatively comfortable route to the knockout stages.
Against this, though, consider that, had this tournament not taken place in Brazil, they would’ve been unseeded for the first time ever (the seeded places go to the hosts plus the top seven sides in the world at the time, and Brazil ranked 11th at the time of the draw) and will have to live up to a weight of local expectation that doesn’t always help (pace Italy in 1990 or indeed South Africa in 2010). They’ve already made some waves, leaving established names such as Kaka and Robinhio out of their provisional squad, gambling instead on fringe players such as Chelsea’s Willian and Ramires. The latter of whom will have played one competitive game in two months by the time of the opening match, due to suspension. All in all, this is not the sure bet it might seem to be.
The Strong Contenders
Argentina are second favourites and you can get as good as 6.0 on them with the likes of BetVictor. They, too, have a relatively comfortable ride into the knockout stages and history suggests that this will be a good tournament for them, with their wins in 1978 and 1986 both coming in the Americas, whilst a good campaign in USA 1994 was only really derailed by Diego Maradona’s mid-tournament drugs ban. Even so, and despite the presence of strikers of the calibre of Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguerro, this side seems to lack the overall class of those teams and there are better value prospects in the mix.
The European challenge is headed by Germany and Spain, who are 7.0 with Sportingbet and 8.0 with Coral respectively. Realistically, there is little to choose between the reigning World and European champions and the Germans. These odds perhaps reflect that both face tough qualifying groups, with Germany paired with Portugal and Spain the 2010 runners up, the Netherlands. Both sides are packed with talent and yet the Germans look somehow the less spectacular and more reliable of the two. They have a tougher run to the semi-finals, though, and for that reason alone, Spain, in the top half of the draw and with only really the Dutch to worry about, look the better bet. However, history is against them. Only Brazil themselves in the modern era have retained the trophy and that was in 1962 – in South America.
Belgium have been heavily backed, right down to the point where the best price you will get on them is 21.0 with Betfair. However, they have a difficult time just getting to the quarter finals, with Russia among the unseeded teams in their group and then either Germany or Portugal the likely opponents in the semi-finals.
France at 26.0 with Skybet look a better bet. They have made unspectacular progress since their horror show in South Africa and should at least make the quarter finals. The problem with the French, though, is that you never know which version of the side will show up to the finals. Will it be the ruthless and efficient side of 1998 or 2006, or will it be the basket cases weighed down by their own expectation and sense of entitlement that made such a shambles of the 2002 and 2010 competitions? If the right one turns up, they could be a fantastic outside bet.
Also trading at 26.0 in most markets – and as long as 29.0 with BetVictor – are Italy. They, of course, have to get out of the three way battle with England and Uruguay in Group D, but if they do so then a run to at least the semi-finals could be on. Injuries and loss of form hampered their qualification, but they will trade an awful lot lower than this if they reach round two.