For you hardcore soccer fans who cannot wait until Friday’s World Cup draw, here’s a little fodder to feed your World Cup appetite until then. Once the World Cup field was finalized following Uruguay’s victory over Jordan, oddsmakers wasted no time in setting the initial lines for various World Cup-related bets. The folks at oddschecker.com were kind of to compile the betting lines from the most popular international betting websites (seen here). As I’m sure these lines will change after the groups are drawn on Friday, I’ll keep my comments brief.
Odds to Win
- Brazil – 16:5
- Germany – 5:1
- Argentina – 11:2
- Spain – 6:1
- Belgium – 12:1
It comes as no surprise that Brazil, the host nation, winner of the 2013 Confederations Cup, and most successful country in World Cup history, is the early favorite to win the tournament. Soccer historians will note that a European team has never won a World Cup in South America, and it appear the oddsmakers have taken this into account. Interestingly enough, Spain is only given the fourth highest odds to win the World Cup, behind Germany and Argentina. I feel that I am as high on Belgium as anyone, and even I feel that 12:1 is too generous for them. Belgium’s last major tournament appearance came in South Korea at the 2002 World Cup, so none of their players, talented as they may be, have any experience playing at this stage. At 12:1 odds, I’d stay away from Belgium.
Other Notable Odds:
- Mexico – 125:1
- Chile – 33:1
- Portugal – 28:1
- Netherlands – 20:1
Now that Mexico has qualified for the World Cup, I believe 125:1 is a bargain for them. There are only about a dozen teams who are talented enough to realistically win the World Cup, and, despite their troubles during qualifying, Mexico is one of those teams, especially if Carlos Vela elects to suit up for El Tri in Brazil. If you are interested in taking a chance on a team to win outside of the favorites mentioned above, consider the next three bets. Chile is a sneakily good team lead by Alexis Sanchez who will be playing on their home continent and will earn a good payoff if they win the World Cup. Portugal, boasting the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani, seem to be underrated given their difficulties in qualifying, but Ronaldo is talented enough to carry Portugal deep into the tournament. Finally, the Netherlands seems like a great bet at 20:1. There are few teams as talented as them, and their players have experience advancing to the World Cup finals. The Netherlands strikes me as the bet with the most value of any team.
Player of the Tournament
- Lionel Messi -10:1
- Cristiano Ronaldo – 10:1
- Franck Ribery – 16:1
- Mesut Ozil – 16:1
- Neymar – 16:1
- Luis Suarez – 20:1
- Andres Iniesta – 25:1
- Sergio Aguero – 25:1
- Robin Van Persie – 33:1
Looking at the list of player of the tournament candidates, Messi and Neymar jump out to me as the best bets. Messi, Ronaldo, and Neymar are three of the best players in the world, are all extremely exciting, and capable of scoring goals. I think they are all likely to light up the tournament, but I see Argentina and Brazil making deeper runs into the tournament, which will propel Messi and Neymar to the forefront of the player of the tournament race. I’d personally steer clear of Ribery and Ozil at the odds listed above. I like Van Persie at 33:1, particularly if the Netherlands can pile on goals in the group stages and advance to the semi-finals in Brazil. I think Luis Suarez is primed for a big tournament so 20:1 seems fair to me for a player of his ability. Finally, I’m surprised Arjen Robben is not on the list. If he emerges as a candidate with 50+:1 odds, I would strongly consider betting on him. Also, look out for Oscar at 75+:1 odds.
Other Notable Odds
- Germany to finish in the top three – 9:5
- Brazil to win World Cup and Messi as Golden Boot – 33:1
- Romelu Lukaku for Top Goalscorer – 28:1
- Thomas Muller for Top Goalscorer – 25:1
- Diego Costa for Top Goalscorer – 16:1
- Luis Suarez for Top Goalscorer – 14:1
Unlike France or Italy, Germany consistently advances to the semi-finals of the World Cup and almost never flames out early in the group stages. Boasting one of their strongest teams in history, I like the 9:5 odds for Germany to finish in the top three. In one of the more obscure bets available, I believe the combination of Brazil winning the World Cup and Messi winning the Golden Boot is a steal at 33:1. Both events represent the most likely outcomes so 33:1 odds seems like strong value.
The remaining bets mentioned above relate to the top goalscorer of the tournament. I believe the four players listed above comprise the right combination of elements necessary to lead the tournament in scoring – capable of scoring many goals in the group stages, play for a team that will advance deep in the tournament, and are the team’s primary goalscoring threat. Lukaku is a risky pick, given his inexperience, but he seems like a prime candidate to break-out at the World Cup, and Belgium is a team that may score in bunches during the group stages if they are placed in a weaker group (which is likely since they are a seeded team). Muller has already scored many goals at the World Cup and is likely to be the main beneficiary of a potent German attack who has a history of lighting up the scoreboard at the World Cup. Costa is a unique selection since he has yet to play for Spain, but he could serve as the focal point of the Spanish national team in place of his aging teammate, David Villa, and his enigmatic compatriot, Fernando Torres. Costa fits the bill of a guy whose team it likely to advance far and of a player who will be supplied plenty of opportunities to score. Suarez, as mentioned above, is a supremely talented player who has experience in the World Cup and is the most prolific scorer not named Messi, Ronaldo, or Neymar so I like his odds as well.
Well, that is all for now. Hopefully, this satiates your World Cup appetite on Friday.