The highest scoring team at the World Cup is not usually an honour that all teams go aiming for – but you’ve gotta score to get close to lifting the trophy and Argentina, tips for the outright, have plenty of reason to be putting in the goals one way or another.
With knockout football’s inevitable pressures – just look at the way that Spain have won their three last three major tournaments – leading to restricted styles of play and ever more caution as the pressure grows through the latter stages, the groups are where this particular market can be won and lost. Brazil and Argentina are now joint favourites, but the Albieceste are greatly preferred.
Argentina scored 10 goals in 2010 before being elimated at the quarter final stage by Germany but everything looks set for a much deeper run into the tournament this time around and a group with Nigeria, Iran, and Bosnia offers a perfect start for their tournament before a last 16 tie against anyone of Group H – so France, Swizterland or Ecudador, being realistic – and then a quarter final against one of Germany or Portugal. Things would be very tight from then on but Argentina may have racked up plenty of goals by this stage already with an attack that boasts Lionel Messi, Sergio Augero, and Gonzalo Higuain being supplied by Angel Di Maria from behind and their 35 goals in qualifying bodes very well for racking up a big total earlier – hopefully with more goals coming against Nigeria then in South Africa when Enyama’s several saves kept that score respectable. And even better, take the 7/2 about them scoring the most group stage goals with many of their main rivals facing tougher tests defensively.
Spain weren’t even in the top three teams for goals scored in the last World Cup but they have had some conservative group exchanges – for instance losing 1-0 at the beginning of 2010 to Switzerland – but this year’s group might offer more opportunities. Given they’re in a group of death, that might sound very strange but the Dutch were flattered by a very weak group section in Europe and in a back four of De Vrij, Martins, Indi, and Vlaar have a very inexperienced and open defence with only Nigel De Jong – not the player of 4 year ago – for protection, while Chile’s gung ho style does leave plenty of gaps – see the 25 goals they conceded during qualifying with a back four that plays it’s football pretty much exclusively in South America – while Australia could ship a lot of goals to them. Del Bosque’s men are not know to have the hammer down from kick off but they don’t pass up an easy chance to score – see their 4-0 humbling of the Republic of Ireland at the Euros – and from then on a goal a game may see them competitive in the final tally. With Germany unlikely to get much from Portugal – the last meeting between them was 1-1 – and Ghana possibly offering stubborn resistance, they are passed over in this market.
The same formula applies to the lowest scoring team, a general shootout between the tournament’s worst sides. Australia are short in this market but make no appeal given that Holland and Chile both have rather open defences for teams of their standard – one goal could rule you out of this market – and Iran could be the bet. Carlos Quieroz’s side scored just eight goals on their way to reaching the playoffs but 5 of those came against Lebanon and it may prove to be that they go into their shells against Bosnia and Nigeria to avoid embarrassment at the group stages and even then, it’s fair to say their attacking quality is at the lower rung of the tournament minnows.
Also worth backing for this are Costa Rica, on the basis that in facing England, Italy, and Uruguay, they face three of the tournament’s most miserly defences. Costa Rica did not exactly struggle for goals, even without setting the world alight when finishing runner up to the USA, and in Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell they have two solid attacking outlets, but the rest of the squad there’s a dearth of quality and they face an Italy side with one of the strongest defensive lines in the tournament – the centrebacks taken from Juventus let in just 23 goals in the last league season – an England side that has always taken breaking down in tournament – they conceded a miserly 4 goals on their way to Brazil – and a Uruguay side that offered little to group opponents in South Africa and still continues to do so.
For this reason, Group D can be the lowest scoring group with the Ivory Coast and Colombia fancied to go forward in search of goals and an open Japan side also negating Greece’s stoic nature in Group C – while the rest of the groups have one or two sides capable of scoring regularly through the group stages.
The highest scoring group could well be Group B. Australia look the least secure defensively of the minnows, and Spain, Holland and Chile should be hoping to score at least twice against the Socceroos, while Chile and Holland’s open nature defensively could lead to a high scoring game between the two before taking Spain into the mix given that Chile are likely to be pressing La Roja hard in midfield, leaving gaps open as the game goes on, and Holland too could ship against them as well.
Advice – Highest scoring teams
4 pts Argentina highest scoring team (3/1 general)
2 pts Argentina high scoring group stage team (7/2 Paddy Power)
1 pt each/way Spain to be highest scoring group team (9/1 Bet Victor)
Advice – Highest scoring group
2 pts Group B (5/1 general)
Lowest scoring group
1 pt Group D (9/2 general)
Lowest scoring teams
1 pt Costa Rica (6/1 Hills)
1 pt Iran (15/2 Bet365)