With the World Cup just weeks away, the betting markets are hotting up, and there are plenty of incentives to bet on your favourite sport with online bookmakers. As a general rule, the more heavily-subscribed a betting market is the less value there will be in it, and with odds tumbling as more and more bets are made on the same outcomes – such as Brazil to win the World Cup on home soil, England going out at the group stage, or Lionel Messi to be win the Golden Boot – there just isn’t much money to be made even if you do make these calls right. The real value comes in the more esoteric bets – the ones that other people aren’t betting much on, and the bookies are just guessing at for the odds. Such as these tempting special bets, for instance…
First Time Winner – 9/2
It’s about time we had a change, don’t you think? For as long as anyone can remember, it’s been the same old culprits winning the major tournaments – Brazil, Italy, Argentina, France, Germany – and no-one else seems to get a look in. At least, this is the popular perception, but we have seen enough surprises in recent years, such as Greece’s Euro 2004 triumph, or Denmark’s unlikely rise from non-qualifiers to champions at Euro 92. So why not this year in Brazil?
Of all the countries that have never won a World Cup that could be in with a decent shout this year, Belgium stand out. On paper, their team is at least a decent match for any of the major contenders at this summer’s tournament, with two world class goalkeepers in Simon Mignolet and Thibaut Courtois, proven defenders such as Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen, and an enviable assortment of attacking talent in the form of Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, and late-entrant Adnan Januzaj.
Also, they’re quite a young team, and with experienced campaigners tired after a long and increasingly crowded domestic season, the fresher legs of young players could prove to be an invaluable asset. Besides Belgium, other talented teams that might be in with a shout of a first-time win include Holland, Ivory Coast, and Columbia – all of which have strong teams that could, with a fair wind, cause an upset at this year’s World Cup.
Argentina to Win and Lionel Messi to be Top Scorer – 16/1
Given that England’s odds to win the World Cup are round about this level (they’re much longer this year of course) this combination bet looks like spectacularly good value. Picture the scene – Argentina thrash Bosnia in their first game, with star man Lionel Messi scoring twice.
Then, they go on a tear against Iran, with Messi scoring a hat-trick, and he nets again in the final group match against Nigeria. High on confidence – and inspired by the player widely regarded as being the best in the world – they storm their way through the knock-out stages, win the World Cup, and Messi’s reputation as an all-time great is secured, with a World Cup and Golden Boot in tow.
It’s not that hard to imagine this actually happening. After all, Messi has won the Ballon d’Or a record four times, he’s at his peak, and the team around him aren’t too bad either. For 16/1, it looks an absolute steal.
Group G to be Highest Scoring Group – 9/2
Of course, current Ballon d’Or holder Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t going to let his arch-rival Messi get it all his own way, and even if his Portugal team look unlikely to lift the trophy, he might at least get the Golden Boot. If he’s going to do that, though, he’ll have to score a lot of goals early on – which shouldn’t be too much trouble against the likes of Ghana and the USA. He might have more trouble against the Germans, who also seem to have plenty of goals in them at the current time. Therefore, it’s not too much of a stretch to assume that Group G – Germany, Portugal, Ghana, and the USA – will have a pretty high goals tally, and it looks a decent bet at 9/2 to be the top-scoring group.