Millions of punters are going to be placing bets on the outright winner of the World Cup and although Friday’s World Cup draw is going to influence many of those bets, looking back rather than looking forward can unearth some of the best bets in the World Cup odds that anyone can find.
There is one very easy and important way to narrow down the World Cup field and that is to look at the continent in which the World Cup is being held. Home advantage doesn’t just apply to the host nation but to all or most of the countries who are playing in their own continent. There have been ten World Cups held in Europe and nine of those have been won by European teams. Every time a World Cup has been held in North, Central or South America it has been a South American team that has emerged victorious. Even when the World Cup has been held in a continent where none of the ‘home teams’ are quite good enough to win, we’ve seen Ghana hugely over perform in South Africa in 2010 and South Korea go as far as the semi-final in 2002.
With the up and coming World Cup being hosted in South America, history suggests that only six teams can win and they are Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador. The latter named team have done very little to suggest they can go all the way at a World Cup and although they’ll still be tough to beat, they are overlooked as potential World Cup winners. That leaves just five teams:
Brazil have an added advantage over the other South American teams in that they are playing in their own country. The hosts have won a third of the World Cup’s ever played (six out of nineteen) and a further two hosts have been beaten finalists. Brazil have had better sides in the past but this is a bit of a new breed of Brazil team; they are extremely solid and hard to beat but they still have the silky skills in attack with players such as Neymar, who was brilliant at the Confederations Cup last summer, a tournament that Brazil won on home soil.
Argentina not only have Lionel Messi but they have several other top quality attacking players. It is therefore disappointing that they haven’t really gone close in recent World Cups (not reached the semi-final in the last five attempts). The problem is that they aren’t quite as good defensively as they are going forward but this is as good an opportunity as they’ve had in recent years.
They lit up the last World Cup when finishing fourth but their limitations were exposed both in qualifying and at the Confederations Cup. Despite having the likes of Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani (doesn’t seem as good on international duty as club duty) and Diego Forlan they could only finish fourth at the Confederations Cup and they needed to playoffs to qualify from the South American qualifying section. Defensively they are suspect and that will cost them against the better teams.
Chile proved recently they are no mugs when beating England 2-0 at Wembley and they won as many games in qualifying as Argentina and Colombia. Chile aren’t quite as tough to beat as those two teams though so whilst they should have few problems qualifying from their group unless really unlucky with the draw they may find their journey ends in the second round or the quarter-finals at best.
Colombia qualified in second place behind Argentina in qualifying and it was encouraging to see them comfortably concede the fewest goals in that qualifying section considering they are always going to get goals at the other end of the pitch with Radamel Falcao in attack. Out of all the South American teams Colombia might just perform best relative to expectations but they should still fall short in the latter stages.
Realistically, the two most likely South American winners are going to be Brazil and Argentina. Brazil have home advantage and proved themselves at the Confederations Cup whilst Argentina are capable of winning this but need to prove that they can be as good on the pitch as they are on paper. Brazil should have the edge but you can get almost 7/4 that either Brazil or Argentina win the World Cup and that should be a winning bet.