In the days when the World Cup was almost exclusively held in Europe and South America, you could generally expect the team playing in familiar conditions to lift the trophy. European teams won in Europe and vice versa and between 1930 and 2006, only Brazil proved to be the exception when they triumphed in Sweden in 1958.
So the South American sides are obviously favourites and going to dominate the betting for the 2014 tournament and it’s host country Brazil who lead the way at 3/1 with the majority of bookies including BetFred and William Hill.
Luis Felipe Scolari has assembled a strong squad and while Brazilian sides of the past have been criticised for being soft at the back, this team could field the most dominant back four in the competition. It’s an experienced defence too led by Thiago Silva and Dani Alves while the midfield has its usual creativity which should yield some spectacular goals.
Up front, Neymar is the man trusted with scoring those goals but the Barcelona striker has had an unsettled first year in Spain and may be under par coming into the finals.
South America continue to dominate the betting and Argentina are second favourites to take the trophy at 5/1 with BetVictor. Alex Sabella’s squad caused a little controversy through the omission of Carlos Tevez but this is a strong unit who have been placed in the easiest of opening groups for Brazil 2014.
Having been drawn with Bosnia, Iran and Nigeria, it’s unfeasible that Argentina won’t make it through to the next round and if they top their group, they should have a comfortable passage to the quarter finals.
Tevez may be sitting at home but the Argentines’ front line is the most exciting in the competition with Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain all in contention to win the Golden Boot as the leading goal scorer.
Behind South America’s finest, Germany are the shortest of the European sides and Joachim Low’s men are at 6/1 with Coral. It’s been 24 years since a German team last won a World Cup but in the intervening years they have always done well and interestingly, they have enjoyed a good record against second favourites Argentina in recent tournaments.
Low will be hoping that veteran striker Miroslav Klose can provide the firepower that will take his side to the final and ahead of Brazil 2014, the Lazio centre forward only needs two more goals to beat Ronaldo’s all time scoring record.
Defending champions Spain are some way back in the market and are currently at a best of 13/2 with BetFred. They may have won three major tournaments in succession but this team will need to abandon their false number 9 formation and be a little more attacking in Brazil.
You can never write off a team that have performed so well in major tournaments but back to back wins in the World Cup are rare and Spain seem destined for disappointment this time around.
Elsewhere, there has been much excitement about a Belgian side who in many ways are comparable to the great Dutch teams of the 1970’s. This squad contains some of the most entertaining players in World Football such as Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku while they have a strong defence and have every chance of making it to the semis.
The Belgians will delight us all at the 2014 World Cup although they are among the outsiders to win at 20/1 with Stan James. However, like those Dutch teams of years gone by, Belgium are unlikely to actually win anything.
It’s hard to look beyond the Super Powers of the game and while Brazil are widely backed, Argentina’s easier group makes them a better option as the tournament draws ever closer.