Five time winners of the World Cup Brazil head into the 2014 tournament as favourites to lift the trophy and to set a new record. Luis Felipe Scolari’s men have the benefit of playing on home soil and as the finals draw ever closer, the hosts are at odds of 3/1 with William Hill for the outright win.
The Brazilians have a relatively easy group and the only possible challenge is likely to come from Croatia. With Cameroon and Mexico making up the numbers, the home nation are almost certain to progress to the knockouts but are odds of 3/1 just a little too short?
In recent days, Argentina have slipped in the betting and Alex Sabella’s men are out at 5/1 with BetVictor. This is another country who will benefit from South American conditions and the 1986 winners arguably have the easiest group of all. Argentina have been drawn with Bosnia, Nigeria and Iran and look destined to finish at the top of the league, thereby giving them an easier game in the round of 16.
Argentina should progress even further but they will want to avoid a German side who have an excellent record against their South American opponents. It’s often said that you should never write off any German squad and although the nation haven’t won the World Cup since 1990, they generally can be assured of a top four finish.
Joachim Low has assembled an experienced squad and this could be the tournament where the prolific Miroslav Klose goes past Ronaldo’s all time goalscoring record at World Cup finals. Germany are at 6/1 with Coral to lift the trophy and look a good prospect at odds of 3/1 with William Hill to make the final.
Defending Champions Spain have a tough opening group and their first game is a repeat of the 2010 final against the Netherlands. The Spanish have won each of their last three major tournaments but are among the outside bets at a price of 13/2 with Ladbrokes to make it five in a row.
Spain should make it through to the quarter finals but their tendency to play a lone striker or even a false number nine system should be inadequate in South American conditions. Holland, meanwhile, are further back at 33/1 with Stan James and the Dutch will struggle to replicate their success of 2010.
Italy and France should also represent a strong challenge from the European Nations and these two sides contested the 2006 World Cup in Germany. France endured a mixed qualifying campaign however and only just scraped through after a play off with Ukraine so you may want to avoid the 1998 winners at 25/1 with BetVictor.
Italy are even further back at odds of 28/1 with BetVictor and while the 2006 Champions were eliminated at the first hurdle four years ago, they look to be a better option than the French.
Brazil and Argentina offer the only tangible threat from South America but could 2014 herald the first African winner of a World Cup? Ghana made it through to the quarter finals in 2010 and are quoted at a mighty 250/1 odds with Bet365 but they are in a tough opening group this time with Germany and Portugal.
Ivory Coast seem to be Africa’s best hope in 2014 but the bookies give them little chance with a best offer of 150/1 with Winner Sports.
In reality, it’s Europe v South America again and while all eyes are on Brazil, we’ve identified two strong alternatives who could give us a repeat of the 1990 final.