As I am attending the first two days of Royal Ascot, I’m going to find it near impossible to update the page – so here are my thoughts on the upcoming group games in the World Cup.
Nigeria (37/40) v Iran (7/2)
Iran are predicted to go home pointless and the Super Eagles will feel that they should have the class edge in this opener but a lack of goals in qualifying – seven of their eight matches in the qualifying went under 2.5 and two of their last four friendlies were goalless. Iran’s qualifying was low scoring too but they were exceptionally well defensively drilled – and remain so – by Carlos Quieroz. Under 2.5 goals would seem the obvious choice but the value from that has gone and the draw looks the best value.
Advice: 1 pt Draw (13/5)
Ghana (6/4) v USA (11/5)
A rematch of a game that ended in heartbreak for the USA in 2006 and 2010, and Ghana are once again marginal favourites, a position possibly earned on the strength of a trashing of Egypt tin the playoffs and a strong friendly run which includes a 4-0 drubbing of North Korea. However, this is likely to be a very tight game as well and neither side screams out as an immediate bet.
Advice: No bet
Belgium (9/20) v Algeria (15/2)
Belgium have been one of the most anticipated sides at this World Cup and they should feel confident of being able to get past Algeria and get off to a flyer in Group H. Their tournament chances may have been overhyped but quality runs through their team in all areas from defence right through to attack and maybe a cheeky bet on them to cover the handicap can land. Algeria are no mugs, but Belgium made light work of one of the toughest European qualifying sections and should prove too good here.
Advice: 1 pt Belgium -1 (5/4 Skybet)
Brazil (1/3) v Mexico (11)
Brazil will need to significantly better their opening game show against Croatia if they’re to win this World Cup but they may have faced the second best team in their group and they can get past Mexico to all but conform their place in the last 16. Brazil beat them 2-0 at least year’s Confederations Cup and while they laboured, they did look threatening when attacking at pace in the second half and they should be sharper. Mexico have been vastly improved under Miguel Herrera, and beat Cameroon far more comfortably than the score would have suggested, so Scolari’s side will need to be alert for a minor shock although class should out.
Advice: 1 pt Brazil to score in both halves (10/11 Hills)
Russia (21/20) v South Korea (17/5)
Russia are very popular now to beat South Korea, but they disappointed massively after starting Euro 2012 so impressively and don’t appeal at the current price against South Korea, who were beaten by Iran twice on the way to Brazil. Russia did beat Portugal to the top of their qualifying section but often flatter to deceive and finishing can also be a problem for them. It may be best to take a wide berth with this game.
Australia (16) v Holland (1/4)
Australia showed with great credit against Chile and could well have scored more than thieir solitary goal but they found the South Americans to be too much and the same could happen again against Holland, who can put one foot in the last 16 with a comprehensive win here. Holland’s remarkable win against Spain was helped by a dreadful goalkeeping performance from Iker Casillas but they were not one bit flattered by their 5 goals and they can notch either side of the interval here.
Advice: 1 pt Holland to score in both halves (5/6 Bwin)
Spain (4/6) v Chile (19/4)
Spain should not be discounted despite their horror sowing against Holland but this all or nothing game against Chile is going to be a serious test. They may enjoy Jorge Sampoli’s side’s attacking nature – the Chileans gave Australia plentiful scoring opportunities – and Chile themselves have the pace to worry a Spanish defence that was all at sea. Both teams to score may be the answer.
Advice: 1 pt Both teams to score (8/11 general)
Croatia (7/10) v Cameroon (5/1)
Cameroon were lucky to only lose 1-0 to Mexico with two perfectly good goals being disallowed, and they look vulnerable to a Croatia side that outplayed Brazil in the opening game. The return of Mario Mandzukic is an immense boost towards their attacking options and Olic, Raktic, Persiis, and Kovacic all made openings on a regular basis and that quality can prove to be too much for them.
Advice: 3 pts Croatia (7/10 general)
Colombia (6/5) v Ivory Coast (14/5)
Colombia’s impressive opening win against Greece was a very promising performance and they’re rightful favourites against the Ivory Coast but this will be no cakewalk given how well the Africans played when they turned around an early deficit to Japan on Sunday. This could well be the closet game of the group and there’s a definite argument to be made for the Africans being value but both sides look good enough to get on the scoresheet here.
Advice: 1 pt Both teams to score (17/20 Bet Victor)
England (13/10) v Uruguay (5/2)
England may have lost to Italy but they couldn’t have played any better in defeat and they should feel confident about being able to beat a Uruguay side reeling from a 3-1 loss to Costa Rica. In playing an extremely aggressive game based around pace and swift counter attacking, England looked truly threatening and comfortable in their own skin for the first time since Hodgson took over and for the first time since he took over the job in a performance completely different to the laboured 0-0 draw of two years ago. Raheem Sterling took the game by storm but Danny Wellbeck was also promising in an industrious role before fading and Danny Sturridge took his goal in fantastic fashion. Uruguay were torn apart by Joel Campbell against Costa Rica after taking the lead and have the key edge in pace with Sterling and Wellbeck running from deep and Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerard may find the going easier in the centre of the park too, Maxi Peiera may be missed and Diego Lugano, Walter Gargano and Martín Cáceres all looked vulnerable in gaining a booking and England, if maintaining the same approach, could prove too good.
Advice: 6 pts England (13/10 BetBright)