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World Cup Antepost Betting Tips - Part 3

Group F

Group F contains reigning champions, Italy, South American side, Paraguay, Slovakia, and minnows, New Zealand. It would be a major surprise were Italy not to qualify from the group, as reflected by the odds of 1.11, whilst New Zealand proved in the Confederations Cup last year that they simply do not have the quality to compete at this level. The second qualification place is likely to be decided between Paraguay and Slovakia, and whilst I expect Paraguay to come through, there are no good value bets in this group.

Group G

Group G has been classed as the ‘group of death’, containing 5-time champions, Brazil, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, African heavyweights, Ivory Coast, and Asian minnows, North Korea.

Brazil are expected to go far in this tournament, as reflected by their status as 2nd favourites for the title behind Spain. Dunga has put together a physical and gifted squad, despite the omission of a number of big-name players. They were victorious in the Confederations Cup in South Africa last year, after an excellent second half comeback in the final. Led by Lucio, they have a solid backline, and the threats of Kaka, Luis Fabiano and Robinho are well documented.

Portugal came through after a playoff against Bosnia after a disappointing qualifying campaign. However, they are unbeaten in their past 13 internationals and have a squad that could threaten. Former World Player of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo, will team up with former teammate, Nani, as well as the likes of Simão, Deco, João Moutinho and Ricardo Carvalho in a strong line-up. They reached the semi-finals in Germany and will be hoping to put in a similarly strong performance this time round.

The Ivory Coast enter into their second world cup with high hopes. They have a number of talented individuals in their side – Didier Drogba will lead the attack alongside Salomon Kalou and Aruna Dindane, whilst Yaya Toure and Didier Zokora are the base of a solid midfield. Premiership pair, Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue make up part of the defence. One of their major weaknesses though is in goal, where Boubacar Barry has been known to make some crucial mistakes. They were a major flop in the 2010 African Nations Cup, drawing with Burkino Faso before being knocked out in the quarter-final stage by Algeria. Whilst they have a number of talented individuals, their major challenge will be gelling together to play as a team, rather than as individuals.

North Korea are built on a solid defence, and have had some good performances recently. Victory over Mali last year has been followed by narrow defeats against a number of good teams, including Mexico, Paraguay and Iran. It is a nightmare group for them, but I would expect them to battle hard, and although they are likely to lose all three games, it is doubtful that they will suffer any large defeats.

There is huge pressure to win this group, since the runners-up are likely to play favourites, Spain, in the second round. I fancy Brazil and Portugal to qualify here, with Ivory Coast finishing third. Ivory Coast may suffer from a lack of quality in goal, and they tend to underachieve given the players that they have.

Bet: Ivory Coast not to qualify @ 2

Group H

Reigning European champions and World Cup favourites, Spain, are the seeded team in this group, whilst Latin America duo, Chile and Honduras, and European side, Switzerland, will be looking to battle it out for second place.

Spain rightly come into the tournament as favourites. They have a host of top quality players to choose from. David Villa and Fernando Torres make up the most dangerous forward line in international football, and a midfield consisting of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, David Silva, Xabi Alonso and Cesc Fabregas shows the great depth they have. They also have a solid defence with Iker Casillas behind Gerard Pique, Carlos Puyol and Sergio Ramos. Until Euro 2008, the perennial underachievers seems destined to fall short every tournament, but having won their first competition, few would bet against them being in the final reckoning here.

Switzerland have named an experienced squad for South Africa. They reached the second round in 2006, but crashed out in the group stage in a disappointing Euro 2008. Despite an embarrassing home defeat to Luxembourg, they qualified top of their group to take their place in the World Cup. They will be hoping that captain, Alex Frei, and Hakan Yakin will be able to score the goals that have been missing for them in recent tournaments, whilst Premiership duo, Valon Behrami and Philippe Senderos, are also in the squad.

Chile are tipped to be the surprise team in this tournament. Under Marcelo Bielsa, they have been transformed into a highly attacking outfit, playing a 3-3-1-3 formation that promises excitement. Humberto Suazo was the top scorer in South American qualifying, and he is backed up by the talented duo of Alexis Sanchez and Mati Fernandez. Whilst they are without a world cup victory in their last five appearances, hopes are high this time around after finishing second behind Brazil in qualification.

Honduras surprised people to qualify ahead of Costa Rica for this tournament. They reached the semi-finals of last year’s Gold Cup, losing to the eventual runners-up, USA. However, some impressive results in qualifying, including a 4-0 victory over Costa Rica and a 3-1 victory over Mexico confirmed their place in the World Cup for the first time in almost 30 years. Led by hugely experienced captain, Amado Guevara, they boast three Premiership players in their side – Tottenham’s Wilson Palacios and Wigan pair, Maynor Figueroa and Hendry Thomas – as well as the brilliantly named, Georgie Welcome.

It would be a huge shock were Spain not to qualify here with a perfect record, but the second qualification place is up for grabs. Personally, I believe that Chile will be good enough to take it – their attractive attacking play should cause problems, and with only 3 defeats in the past 18 months, they have proved that they have plenty of talent in their team.

Bet: Chile to qualify @ 1.73

Other Interesting Tips

With the World Cup being such a big event, there are a whole range of possible markets that are provided by the bookies. An interesting one is the best Asian/Oceania team in the competition. This is between the two Korean sides, Australia, Japan and New Zealand. Realistically, we can discount North Korea and New Zealand, and probably Japan straight away. North Korea have a horrible group, whilst the other two simply do not have the quality at this level. As I said earlier, I expect South Korea to qualify for the second round, and as such would be a good tip in this market. However, it is possible to cover yourself by tipping Australia as well, to guarantee a profit whichever of these sides is more successful.

Bet: South Korea best Asian/Oceania team @ 3.25
Bet: Australia best Asian/Oceania team @ 2.6

Another hugely popular market is the top goal-scorer. Generally, you look for a player that will grab a couple of goals in the group stage, whilst being part of a team that will go deep into the tournament, providing the greatest number of opportunities to add to your tally. David Villa is the favourite in this market, and for good reason. He won the Golden Boot at Euro 2008, and is the penalty-taker for Spain as well. He regularly outscores his partner, Fernando Torres, at this level, and with Spain expected to go all the way, will have ample opportunity to grab the goals.

Holland are another team that are likely to grab a few goals. They have a relatively weak group, and will be fancying their chances of some easy victories. They would also have a relatively straight-forward second round game, giving them plenty of hope of doing well in this tournament. Robin van Persie does not have the greatest record at this level with only 14 goals in 41 internationals. However, he has been impressive when fit this season for Arsenal, and will be fancying his chances of hitting a few goals in this tournament.

Brazil are another team expecting to go far. Whilst they have a tricky group, they will be hoping to have plenty of games over the course of the tournament to score the goals. Whilst Luis Fabiano is the main striker, Robinho floats around just behind him and despite only having scored 20 goals in 73 internationals, he has impressed recently. A decent outside bet for this market.

Other names to bear in mind include Miroslav Klose (34), who has an excellent record at big tournaments, England’s Wayne Rooney (13), who has been in scintillating form this season, and Argentina’s Lionel Messi (12). A couple of interesting outsiders may include Uruguay’s Diego Forlan (81), Chile’s Humberto Suazo (101) and Serbia’s Nikola Zigic (151).

Bet: David Villa Golden Boot @ 10
Bet: Robin van Persie Golden Boot @ 29
Bet: Robinho Golden Boot @ 59
Bet: Diego Forlan Golden Boot @ 81

Bet: Spain/David Villa Winning Team/Golden Boot @ 26

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