As you read this the opening game of the World Cup is upon us! For the duration of the FIFA World Cup Sportingbet South Africa will have a range of markets that will suit whatever your betting needs are. Instead of being all talk, we decided to pair up with the online betting site and some of our friends to “Put our money where our mouths are!”
Andreas Koshiaris – Kosh is a massive gooner and a long time friend of the blog. The account manager for Playmakers is also a genuine football man even if he has the unfortunate problem of being Greek!
Matthew Savides – Matthew is a massive Gooner (You seeing the trend here) and a long time friend of the blog. He is one of the best journalists we know and the quality of his work is never short of awesome!
Dirk Vale – The other man behind All Things Jabu and an honorary Gooner, um, not really. A lifetime Citizen from the Goater days and now enjoying life at the top. Has a penchant for supporting the irritating teams at a World Cup – See Uruguay 2010.
Jabu – Is a massive Gooner and the boss of the blog, so was always going to make the team.
Sportingbet – Not part of the panel, but the site we used and collaborated with. They have markets for everything you can imagine at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
I have a sneaky feeling that Benzema will be amongst the goals at Brazil 2014. He has had a pretty decent 2013/2014 season scoring a total of 24 goals across all competitions but still on the receiving end of abuse from the hard to please Madridista supporters. He has been linked with a move away from the Bernabeu and what better way to put himself in the shop window than by notching a few goals at a major tournament. Group E is not a daunting group and with games against Ecuador and Honduras to come he could find himself amongst the leading contenders for the Golden Boot.
Name the Finalists: Brazil – Argentina (8/1)
This was my pick for the World Cup Final from months ago already and nothing has altered that view. A lot of people around the world don’t realize the impact that the climate will have on the tournament and it’s a no-brainer that the South American countries will have the upper hand with regards to adapting and handling the weather conditions. Passionate, fervent support from the stands will also have an influence on proceedings. Germay and Spain will be losing semi-finals but I’m going for an all-South American Final and what a match that is going to be!
Not to Qualify: Portugal (17/10)
I’ve watched quite a few of the pre-World Cup friendly matches and Portugal have failed to impress me. Cristiano Ronaldo has battled with his fitness and Portugal, more than any other team I have seen, are completely reliant on one player. In addition, I’m not sure where their goals are going to come from, while Almeida and Postiga are decent enough strikers they are hardly prolific at international level. If Cristiano Ronaldo does get fit, and he did play and score in a recent friendly against Republic of Ireland, then Portugal could contend for group qualification but if he isn’t at his best then I fully expect Ghana and the United States to capitalize.
Group C – Progressing teams: Colombia & Greece (100/30)
Perhaps this is me going with my heart, but I really do expect Greece to qualify for the latter stages for the first time in their history. The Greeks are incredibly difficult to break down in defence and their team ethic and work rate make them horrible opposition. Much will hinge on Samaras and Mitroglou combining in attack and it will also be the last time that players like Karagounis and Katsouranis are seen on the global stage. Two draws and a solitary win could be enough for the Greeks. I’m tipping Colombia to top the group even without the injured Falcao as they possess enough talent in the squad to see off their group opponents. James Rodriguez automatically becomes the star-turn and much will hinge on his creative instincts but I expect any one of Sevilla’s Carlos Bacca, Porto’s Jackson Martinez and new Borussia Dortmund signing Adrian Ramos to put their hand up to replace Falcao.
Winner/Top Goalscorer Double: Leo Messi/Brazil (20/1)
I know that I’ve tipped Karim Benzema as top goal scorer in a separate bet but I’m going to box clever and hedge my bets. Assuming that Argentina and Brazil make the Final then you would expect Leo Messi to play an integral role in that run. Group F matches against Nigeria, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Iran should provide opportunity for Messi to score some goals. As for overall win, Brazil proved their mettle with a home victory in the Confederations Cup last year and I fully expect them to repeat that this summer. The only factor that could count against them would be crumbling under the pressure of an expectant home crowd who fully intend celebrating a sixth overall World Cup victory.
To Win all Group Matches: Uruguay (9/1)
They’re calling Group D a ‘Group of Death’ but for me that mantle belongs over in Group G. I see Uruguay cleaning up quite comfortably leaving Italy and England to scrap it out for 2nd place with their match in Manuas on Sunday 15th a final of sorts. I don’t have much hope of Costa Rica causing much of an upset either. As for Uruguay, by the looks of things Luis Suarez will be fine and when you take into account the attacking depth of Edinson Cavani, Abel Hernandez, the mercurial talent of Gaston Ramirez and the benefit of a Diego Forlan cameo then it’s hard to look past ease of passage for ‘La Celeste’
Group E – Straight Forecast: Germany – Ghana (6/1)
This ties in with my earlier prediction of Portugal not making it out of the ‘Group of Death’. I think Germany will win Group G and it will be a scrap between the remaining three countries to secure the second qualifying spot. If, as I predicted, Portugal fail to qualify then that would leave it between Ghana and United States. I’m torn here because I have been championing United States football for many years and am quick to sing the praises of Major League Soccer and the strides that they are taking in growing the beautiful game. Having said that I’m tipping Ghana here simply because I think they have the strongest squad of the African contingent and if they can get out of the group then who knows? A potentially tricky tie would await against the highly fancied Belgians but I have a soft spot for the Ghanaians because of that fateful, woefully unfair night at Soccer City and a certain handball incident…
Lose on Penalties – England (7/1)
I haven’t tipped England to progress but if they did manage to edge out Italy I wouldn’t be surprised. That would set up a likely Second Round clash against Group C winner Colombia where I also wouldn’t be surprised if they were eliminated via a penalty shoot because, well you know, it’s England…
Being in Brazil and having a point to prove I really see this being the stage for Diego Costa to do something special. He’s looked fit in the warm up matches he’s played in and can be the biggest part of this Spain squad that is different from previous squads. Can’t wait to see him prove me right!
2 – To Reach Final – Spain 3/1
Double picked this as the final I can see being played. Spain have looked sharp and confident, and with a balanced starting line-up almost impossible to stop!
3 – To Reach Final – Argentina 9/4
Massive attacking flair in Messi and Aguero, and with Messi looking happy playing for Argentina he can finally lose that tag as almost as good as Maradona. Don’t forget Di Maria who’s been in wonderful form and the array of other players who can make devastating cameo, like Lavezzi and Higuain!
4 – To Reach Quarters – Ivory Coast 5/1
The best of the African teams this World Cup, it’s probably the last hurrah for their big name players, like Toure and Drogba. I expect them to leave their mark and this be the World Cup to remember for them. Though I can’t see them going on further and making the semi-finals unfortunately. Too many good sides around this World Cup.
5 – To Win the World Cup – Argentina 4/1
It’s South America and South American teams win here! I just feel like that this is the year Messi banishes his demons around the World Cup and inspires Argentina to win the win the biggest tournament of them all, the World Cup.
6 – To Reach the Semi-finals – Greece 40/1
I can’t help myself with this one. I believe in the Greeks! They’re going to make sure that Karagounis gets to retire with a happy memory and a World Cup to remember! Mitroglu needs to find a new club after the horrendous mess of the Fulham move and I think he’ll surprise a lot of people. Greece will be under estimated and they’ll use this to surprise teams. Wonderfully defensively and great passers of the ball, and they’re Greeks, the play with passion!
7 – Winner/Top Goal Scorer Double – Argentina / Sergio Aguero 28/1
It’s Argentina’s World Cup! I think Messi will be provider and Aguero will be the finisher. He’s been massive for Manchester City this season and fit again with some rest, he can finish his season in style with some great goals on the biggest stage.
8 – Group C Progressing Teams – Greece/Ivory Coast 12/1
One of the toughest groups to predict in Group C but I think Ivory Coast and Greece will get through and the they’ll push through to give their legends – Drogba and Karagounis, great send offs.
Matthews Bets (4 x R50)
At odds of 18/1, this is definitely worth a punt. Brazil look favourites for the title to me, especially given the home crowd advantage. They’re a team that looks as solid in defence as they are potent going forward. Barring a major upset, they’ll be in the final.
But who will they play against? Spain seem the most obvious finalists, but I don’t think that’ll be the case. Spain start the tournament with a tough game against Holland, and if they struggle in that game I think they could battle in the tournament. Given the history that no team in the modern era has won back-to-back World Cups, I think they’ll fall short. Argentina, I just get the feeling, are going to rely too heavily on the talismanic Lionel Messi – and I’m not sure he’s quite proven to be a big match player.
This leaves Germany. Extremely well organised and well coached, I reckon this team can put a seriously good run together. They’ll be tough to break down and can be lethal in front of goal. They’ll make the final.
2 – IRAN NOT TO WIN A MATCH (7/20 odds)
I expect Iran to fall out of the tournament in emphatic fashion. Yes, they’re well coached by Carlos Queiroz, but I just don’t think they can pull off anything spectacular on the world stage. They’ll come up against Argentina in the group, and will catch a hiding there. They also play Nigeria, who I think are a better team that people realise, and go up against Bosnia and Herzegovina. Will they lose all three? I think it’s likely.
3 – BELGIUM TO REACH THE SEMI (3/1 odds)
Don’t count out a serious run by this Belgium side. It’s full of talent – and young talent, at that – right from the goalkeeper through to the attackers. They will upset a few teams, I can guarantee it. With Algeria, Russia and the Korea Republic in their group, I think they’ll breeze through and be filled with confidence. They’re my dark horse to lift the trophy, so I’ll damn straight be putting money on them making the semis.
4 – LUKAKU FOR TOP SCORER (25/1 odds)
This is arguably my heart-over-head pick. I like Romelu Lukaku a lot, and not-so-secretly wish he played for my beloved Arsenal. I also really like the look of this Belgium team and think they can, and will, rip a few teams apart this tournament – and I expect Lukaku to do most of that ripping. In a group containing Algeria, Russia and Korea Republic, I think there are goals for the taking. Even if Belgium don’t progress into the tournament’s later rounds, expect him to be near the top because of the bucket-load he’ll score in the group.
I fully anticipate the goals to be shared around and like in 2010 the Golden Boot may not be very one sided. I struggled to pick one winner so instead I chose what I think the golden boot total will be.
2 – Lowest Scoring Team – Iran 5/1
The fact is simple. If they played Bafana now, Bafana would be favourites. Iran are going to try and enjoy their appearance at the FIFA World Cup, but I dont think they will score any goals at all!
3 – Group C Winner – Ivory Coast 7/2
Its a tempting bet in a distinctly average group. Yaya could inspire his countrymen to a comfortable run in the tournament and I think they have a great chance of winning group C. They are who my heart are backing from the African continent.
4 – Top African Team – Ghana 13/5
That being said, Ghana have the tougher group and if they are able to emerge from it then I believe they will be all the better as a result. That would strengthen them for the run in and they could match or even better their 2010 FIFA World Cup run.
5 – Winning Continent – South America 9/10
There have been four World Cups in South America so far. In each of those four a team from South America has won the cup. I anticipate that this total could go to five in 2014 with Argentina, Brazil, Chile or even Uruguay all in the running!
6 – England Top Goalscorer – Daniel Sturridge 11/4
Well I think England are rank average and in my opinion will get knocked out in the group stage as I dont believe they will overcome Uruguay and Italy. I think their goals will be limited but the Liverpool hitman can definitely do some damage!
7- Uruguay to Reach the Semi Finals – 5/1
If they could do it in South Africa, whats stopping them from doing it in Brazil. Suarez and Cavani are better than they were in 2010 so why not!
8 – Netherlands to end Group B with most goals 13/5
Spain dont score a lot as they are more efficient. Chile might score a few. But I would have a sneaky bet on Netherlands to top the group B scoring charts!