This is it! We are here. The big kick off for the most anticipated tournament in the World. Here are our thoughts for some of the first few games which will be kicking off on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. All bets are advised as singles but it could be well worth combining them in multiples.
Let’s get this started!
Brazil v Croatia – 9.00pm Thursday
Advised Bet – Brazil to win to nil 10/11 with SkyBet
It all starts here. Brazil take on Croatia in the opening game of World Cup 2014. Brazil quite simply have to perform. Since being announced as hosts, the national team has been gearing up for this one event. Many friendly games have been played and a victory in last years Confederations Cup has all been preparation for the tournament and Croatia are first up. The majority of this Brazil side are the one that defeated Spain 12 months ago in the Confederations Cup win and it is quite clear to see why they’re favourites to lift this World Cup.
Brazil will certainly want to put a show on for their country while Croatia will be clinging on the hope of a 0-0 draw, so i dont expect this to be an end to end thriller but I think Lovren and Corluka at the back for Croatia will be in for a busy evening. Brazil won all three of their warm up friendly games, scoring ten goals along the way and keeping three clean sheets.
Croatia are going to want to get this game out the way. A nation will be against them and it will be well and truly an away game. The dangerous Mario Mandzukic is suspended which gives them even less hope of finding the net considering the Bayern Munich was the top scorer during qualification, having found the net four times. With Niko Kovac’s side having failed to score against Scotland and Iceland and only managing to find the net once against Australia in their final warm up game, I am expecting a Brazilian shutout and three points on Thursday. Predcition 2-0.
Spain v Holland – 8.00pm Friday
Advised Bet – Spain to win 20/23 with BetVictor
The opening game in Group B kicks off at 8pm on Friday with a repeat of the final World Cup game four years ago when Spain triumphed to lift the trophy. Spain will be desperate to defend their title and should have a good chance despite those golden generations being four years older. The Netherlands find themselves in a transition with a number of experienced players still in the side, while the remaining spaces are filled by a younger group who have yet to prove themselves on the world stage. Spain have prepared well enough, having won their two warm up games 2-0 against El Salvador and Bolivia while the Netherlands drew at home to Ecuador earlier in March but defeated both Ghana and Wales in recent weeks.
For me having Van Gaal declared as new United manager will only hamper both his and his side’s preparation for this tournament. As a player I would struggle to be motivated by a manager I know will not be here in a number of weeks. Van der Vaart, Van der Wiel and Strootman all haven’t made the squad due to injury, and these are vital players for the Oranje. Van Persie has had a poor season and has struggled with injury and fitness and is not carrying the sort of form he would like. I can see this Dutch side struggling to make it out of the group stages.
The Spain side remain filled with Barcelona and Real Madrid players and have a starting XI to be marvelled at. Spain have the experience of the conditions in Brazil, having come Runners Up last year at the Confederations Cup and will have an advantage over rivals. Spain have their famous possession football and over in Brazil in the heat, this will be a vital attribute to have in their armoury. Looking at the styles of both sides and the players which form them, I can see nothing but a narrow victory for the holders. Prediction 1-0.
Japan v Ivory Coast – 2.00am Saturday
Advised Bet – BTTS 21/20 with Ladbrokes
A tough Group C is tricky to predict with Colombia as favourites and both Japan and Ivory Coast who meet here will want maximum points as they look to progress. Two very attacking sides that rely more so on goals than clean sheets, surely have to produce a goal fest?
Japan struggled at times during qualification after initially finishing second to North Korea in the first group stage, Zaccheroni’s side then went on to win their next league beating Australia and Jordan along the way, scoring on average two per game. Keisuke Honda scored five during qualifying and the Asian side will be looking towards both Honda and Shinji Kagawa for the magic in front of goal. Despite losing all three games at the Confederations Cup last summer, Japan will benefit from that experience and I can see them finding the net here.
Ivory Coast come up against group favourites Colombia after this game and would rather go into that tie with less pressure if they can manage a win in their opening game. The Elephants won their qualification group by finishing above Morocco, Gambia and Tanzania, and then went on to overcome Senegal 4-2 after two legs. Salomon Kalou topped the scoring charts with five goals and he has spoken about stepping out of the shadows during this World Cup, could he be the man to find that net more often than not?