We are almost there now and I for one cannot wait. What a tournament the World Cup is and I will be making sure I am in front of the television watching every game I can. To add even more spice to your experience, you have to have a few predictions to follow, to make sure that Honduras verses Switzerland or South Korea against Algeria means just little bit more. Here are our three World Cup bets.
Holland to go out of the group stage – 13/8 Paddy Power
Despite winning nine and drawing one of their ten matches in qualification, which makes fantastic reading, Holland are not coming in to the tournament in the best shape. I am expecting them to leave the tournament early, and the 13/8 looks mouth watering.
Key midfielder Kevin Strootman was ruled out through injury not so long ago which will be a vital miss from a less than dynamic midfield, as well as Rafael van der Vaart who is also injured.
Louis van Gaal is heading out the door and over to England for the position of manager of Manchester United and in my experience a side that knows their manager is leaving doesn’t provide the best environment for player motivation. Key striker Robin van Persie is not hitting form after a dreadful domestic campaign full of injuries and Arjen Robben is the only other major threat.
Group B is very tough, the World Cup holders Spain are clear favourites to progress as winners and the opening game is this repeat fixture from the World Cup Final four years ago.
Spain got the better of Holland then and even though the Spanish may not be as strong as they were, the Oranje are certainly a lot poorer. The heat of Brazil should also suit Spain as well as their experience – playing in the conditions during the Confederations Cup.
Chile appear to be most people’s outside shot to go all the way with conditions suiting the South American side down to the ground. After an incredible poor start to qualification, a new manager was brought in which totally changed the direction Chile were hwading and they ended up booking their place in Brazil in style.
A friendly victory over England at Wembley was one for us all to see and I can see them performing once more on the big stage.
Australia are the fourth side in the group and are likely to be the whipping boys for the rest of the sides, although Holland have a dreadful record against the Socceroos having drawn twice and losing once in their three meetings.
The Oranje are not assured of three points when they meet on June 18th. All in all I am looking forward to collecting some winning as the Netherlands fail in Brazil.
Costa Rica, Honduras, Australia and Greece to finish last in their groups – 5.49 with Ladbrokes
Back in 1990 Costa Rica made it to the last 16 but they haven’t graced the tournament since the year 2000. Qualifying behind USA in CONCACAF has brought them back on the world stage but I cannot see a side, whose best player is Bryan Ruiz who couldn’t break into an abysmal Fulham side, getting far in Brazil.
If you have ever seen the Costa Rica captain play, you will see why I am so confident because the floppy haired forward is anything but captain material.
After that rant, Alvaro Saborio who top scored for Costa Rica during their campaign broke his foot in training which is a major blow. Up against Italy, England and Uruguay it is very difficult to see where they are going to even score a goal, let alone a point.
Honduras are next up, and you would think that after qualifying for two World Cups in a row, we would be seeing a nation improve on previous feats, but in my opinion this is an even poorer side than the one that picked up a single point in Group H four years ago.
Honduras find themselves in Brazil after a successful qualifying campaign in the CONCACAF, along with the aforementioned Costa Rica, USA and Mexico.
Most believe this is the easiest group they could have hoped for but once more I struggle to see where points will come from.
France should top the group, and come into the tournament with great form in their preparation games. Ecuador is an opportunity many think will be close, but in recent meetings Ecuador have beaten Honduras 2-0 and 2-1 with their last game being a 2-2 draw.
In South Africa, Honduras shared a group with Switzerland who they face once more on June 25th and last time it was a 0-0 draw but Switzerland have improved as they proved by topping their group in European qualification.
I feel like I shouldn’t have to write too much about the reasons behind why Australia will finish bottom as the fixtures do the talking. Arguably the toughest group for any side as the Socceroos come up against Spain, Chile and Holland this year.
I watched a strong Aussie side play out a friendly at home to a depleted South Africa team a few weeks ago which ended 1-1 and Australia were toothless in attack with Tim Cahill lacking the youthful spark nowadays, yet being heavily relied on to produce the magic going forward.
Mile Jedinak will hold things together in midfield but even the Crystal Palace captain is struggling with an injury picked up on the final day of the Premier League season.
I certainly expect manager Ange Postecoglou to get his side working hard as they always do but I will be surprised if they manage to find the net in their three games.
After Greece shocked the whole of Europe when winning Euro 2004, you would be a fool to bet against them. Well I am going to.
The ageing Giorgios Karagounis will captain his side in Brazil and even though they are tough to beat they struggle to keep hold of the ball, and due to their lack of creativity I can see them coming unstuck against the strong opposition of Japan, Ivory Coast and Colombia who each bring their own dangerous weapons particularly when in possession.
Greece’s best player is striker Kostas Mitroglou who scored a brace in their play off game verses Romania but has played just 120 minutes since signing for Fulham in January and is struggling with fitness. I just cannot see Greece scoring enough goals to avoid last place.
Arjen Robben, Thomas Muller, Cristano Ronaldo to be top scorer for their countries – 42/1 with Ladbrokes
Holland – Robben
This surely will be between Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben. It is looking like Robben is going to be played just behind RVP and we know how lethal the Bayern man can be when driving at goal and taking on players.
Van Persie really has struggled for Manchester United all season with injury and isn’t carrying the sort of form into the World Cup he would like to whereas Robben, won the league under Guardiola at Bayern months ago and the foot certainly was taken off the gas, leaving the former Chelsea man, fresh and raring to go.
Germany- Thomas Muller
What is it with certain players pulling out goals for Germany at the big tournaments? We all know that Miroslav Klose needs that one goal this year but do not forget about Thomas Muller who seems to find the net in the big games for both club and country.
The 24 year old should play just behind the striker where he is most dangerous, as well as a position where he is most likely to find the back of the net. Four years ago in South Africa, five goals saw him leave with the Golden Boot and he has already come out and said he wants it again!
Portugal- Cristano Ronaldo
Who else? If you could choose one player to light up the tournament you would probably pick the Ballon D’or winner. 49 goals in 110 games for Portugal is a fantastic record and I cannot name anyone in his side who will come close to scoring the number of goals CR7 will. The 29-year-old, future hall of famer will see this World Cup as his best opportunity to set things alight as he hits his prime. A troubling thigh injury seems to have cleared up and the stage is set for Ronaldo.