Brazil may be favourites to win the World Cup on home soil but if you are sceptical about the hosts’ chances, there are plenty of betting alternatives throughout the tournament. Many of the opening ties are tough this year and while some countries head their group betting by some margin, there are going to be plenty of surprises before we reach the knockout round.
Brazil have been placed in Group A and the hosts have received a relatively easy draw with Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon completing this section. The Brazilians are red hot favourites to win here at 1/4 with Bet365 and will be a safe banker if you like your profits to be small ones.
Croatia started strongly in qualifying before fading badly and with a string of poor results behind them, they should be avoided as group winners at 9/1 with Ladbrokes. Instead, Mexico will be comfortable in South American conditions and while they may not trouble Brazil, Miguel Herrera’s team are a good bet to qualify at 5/4 with Winner Sports.
Group B opens with a classic as Spain take on the Netherlands in a repeat of the 2010 Final. Having won the trophy four years ago, the Spanish are favourites to win the group at 8/11 with Winner Sports while the Dutch are quoted at 3/1 with Coral.
That opening encounter should decide the outcome of the group and while Chile and Australia can cause upsets, the big two should progress with Spain edging it ahead of Holland who are priced at 4/6 with William Hill to progress.
Colombia enjoyed a strong qualifying campaign and look certain to progress from Group C. The bookies agree and have made the South Americans hot favourites at 4/5 with Winner Sports to top the section but the battle for second place is very open.
Greece won the European Championships in 2004 and remain dangerous but they are the outside bet at 11/5 with William Hill to qualify. Ivory Coast are at Even Money with William Hill while Japan are close behind at 5/4 with Ladbrokes. Greece are a value punt here but it may be too close to call.
The so called group of death has Italy as favourites at 13/8 with Bet365 with Uruguay following at 2/1 with Coral. England are third favourites at 11/5 with Winner Sports while Costa Rica bring up the rear at 50/1 – also with Winner Sports.
This is so tight but Italy are indeed the stronger side. However it may be safer to back Italy and Uruguay to qualify at 4/9 with Ladbrokes and 4/7 with William Hill respectively.
France are 5/6 favourites in Group E but may face a strong challenge from the Swiss, who have played well against them in previous tournaments. Switzerland are at 11/4 with Winner Sports while Ecuador at 9/2 with William Hill and Honduras at 33/1 with Bet365 follow.
France are the logical bet but Switzerland are an emerging side and look certainties to qualify at 4/6 with Bet365.
Of the top sides in the tournament, Argentina arguably have the easiest draw of all and have been put up against Nigeria, Bosnia and Iran. It’s impossible to look beyond the South Americans at odds of 1/4 with BetVictor to win the section so once again it’s all about second place.
Nigeria have performed well in recent tournaments but aren’t as strong as they once were. Bosnia are an emerging side while Iran will always struggle at the World Cup. The key game is between Nigeria and the Bosnians on 21st June and Bosnia should take it to qualify and return a profit at 4/5 with Winner Sports.
Elsewhere, Ghana have performed well in previous tournaments and might just be worth a small bet to qualify at 3/1 with William Hill. USA also made it to the round of 16 in 2010 but in this tough group they are best avoided.
Completing the opening draw is group H where the entertaining Belgians are clear favourites at 4/6 with Bet365. Belgium enjoyed a strong qualifying campaign but this is one section where the second favourites give you a serious option.
Russia, at 12/5 with Coral, have generally started tournaments well and if they can get at least a draw when they play the Belgians on 22nd June, they should go on to deliver a profit. Meanwhile, Algeria and South Korea are unlikely to threaten.