2014 World Cup – Your Indispensable Guide To Group C & Group D
World Cup Group C Betting
Counting On Columbia?
In the opinion of many, Columbia are one of the ‘dark horses’ of the 2014 World Cup, and they are clear favourites at a top-priced evens with Sky Bet to win Group C.
Since Jose Pekerman was appointed as head coach, the Cafeteros have thrown caution to the wind, playing in a far more attack-minded fashion, and they were impressive during the qualifiers, which included a 4-0 victory over Uruguay.
However, Colombia’s star man Radamel Falcao is ruled out of the tournament thorough injury, and his absence is a big blow to the nation’s prospects of improving on their previous World Cup best, which was in 1990 when they reached the last 16.
Jackson Martinez has enjoyed a tremendous season with Porto, and will ensure that rival defenders are kept on their toes. Meanwhile, Monaco’s James Rodriguez will be the mischief-maker-in-chief in the middle of the park, and Juan Cuadrado of Fiorentina will be a live threat on the wing.
All in all, Columbia should progress to the knockout phase – and, in all probability, as group winners – but when the stakes get higher, the predatory instincts of Falcao, scorer of 20 goals in 55 appearances for his country, will be sorely missed.
Ivory Coast To End Their Last-16 Hoodoo?
It’s rather surprising that the Ivory Coast, a side blessed with world-class players such as Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure, have yet to progress beyond the group phase in previous World Cups – and it’s even more surprising that they have yet to taste glory in the African Cup of Nations.
However, in all fairness to Les Elephants, they were drawn against Brazil and Portugal in 2010, and Argentina and Holland four years earlier. This time Sabri Lamouchi’s side face, Greece and Japan, along with Columbia, and are a top-priced evens with 888sport to qualify.
So, can the Ivory Coast end their hoodoo in Brazil and reach the last 16? On paper, they ought to. In addition to Drogba and Toure, they also boast key players that will be familiar to Premier League fans, including Gervinho, Soloman Kalou and Wilfried Bony.
Greece have failed to build on the momentum of their shock victory Euro 2004 victory and are outsiders of the Group C quartet, but Japan, on the other hand, are a burgeoning footballing nation and have twice reached the knockout stages of the World Cup since making their debut in the tournament in 1998.
The Asian champions lack a classy striker to get on the end of the good work carried out by the midfield, but they are dangerous nonetheless and it wouldn’t surprise me if they beat the Ivory Coast in their opening match on June 15 and go on to qualify.
World Cup Group D Betting
Group D has been labelled the “Group of Death”, and with good reason. Italy are marginal favourites with Uruguay and England vying for second favouritism, but the there’s little to choose between the three sides in the betting. There is unlikely to be much between them on the pitch either.
Italy were desperately disappointing as defending champions in South Africa four years ago, failing to win a single game. But their pedigree is there for all to see: the Italians have won the tournament four times, finished as runners-up twice and, overall, have reached the semi-finals eight times in 19 World Cups.
In addition, the Azzurri were beaten finalists at Euro 2012, finding only Spain too strong. They outpointed the Germans in the semis and, in the process, reminded everyone that you underestimate Italy at your peril.
The heartbeat of the side is still Andrea Pirlo who, despite being 35 years of age, remains as sharp as ever. Few players read the game as well as the Juventus man; his exquisite ball control, outstanding passing range and all round footballing intelligence make him very difficult to play against.
Cesare Prandelli’s side qualified for Brazil with two games to spare and, as a well-drilled, balanced side which features a blend of youth and experience, they will be a danger to all, particularly if the infamous Mario Balotelli brings his shooting boots.
Will The Lions Roar?
With Costa Rica likely to struggle, and assuming Italy progress as group winners, the race between England and Uruguay for second spot in Group D could go right to the wire. Both nations are 4/7 to qualify with Betfred and William Hill respectively.
On the upside for the Three Lions, expectations levels surrounding them are nowhere near as high as in South Africa four years ago when they were as short as 11/2 in the outright betting. And, refreshingly, Roy Hodgson has placed trust in several young, highly promising players, such as Adam Lallana, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley.
On the downside, England were hardly impressive during the qualifiers, despite not losing a single game, and recent performances in friendlies have not been inspiring either. The sheer heat and humidity in Brazil could count against them in a major way, too.
In contrast, acclimatising to the conditions will not be a problem for Uruguay and, though Luis Suarez may miss Los Charraus’ opening match against Costa Rica due to a knee injury, the Liverpool striker, who is Uruguay’s all-time leading scorer, is expected to be fit to face England on June 19.
In addition to Suarez, coach Oscar Tabarez also has Edinson Cavani and veteran Diego Forlan at his disposal. In fact, the 1930 and ’50 World Cup champions look pretty solid overall and they’re worth backing to win the group ahead of Italy with England likely to fall at the first hurdle, unfortunately.