ZM’s World Cup Betting Preview
Cameroon’s build-up to the tournament was thrown into disarray after best player and captain Samuel Eto’o threatened to walk out of the side after criticism of his performances from former Cameroon legend Roger Milla.
He decided to stay in South Africa, but it hints at disharmony in a squad that is weaker on the pitch than it is on paper, having recorded disappointing pre-tournament friendly results. Cameroon can be backed at 11/4 to finish bottom of a reasonably strong group that contains Holland, Denmark and Japan.
Honduras are another side who look like finishing bottom of their group. They’re up against Spain, the tournament favourites, as well as an exciting, attack-minded Chile side and a well-organised Switzerland team managed by double Champions League winner Ottmar Hitzfeld. Honduras struggled through a weak qualification section and there are fitness doubts about Wilson Palacios, by far their most talented player. 1/2 looks a decent price for them to finish 4th out of 4.
Miroslav Klose is the definition of a World Cup specialist – he’s the first man in history to score five or more goals in two successive World Cup tournaments, 2002 and 2006. His odds to be World Cup top goalscorer at 33/1 look surprisingly high considering this record, and the fact he’ll be playing as the lone striker ahead of a very creative midfield. Also available at 33/1 is Italy and Fiorentina’s Alberto Gilardino – off-form at club level, but expected to lead the line for the holders in a fairly easy group, against Paraguay, New Zealand and Slovakia. He’s a player that comes alive inside the penalty box and should be amongst the goals in the group stage. Birmingham’s Nicola Zigic is an outside bet at 100/1, but is assured of his place in a Serbia side that many are tipping as dark horses.
Also available are top goalscorer markets for individual sides. In recent years, with the popularity of one-striker formations supported by two or three midfield runners, midfielders have had to take on more of a goalscoring responsibility. With that in mind, a few attacking midfield players might be decent bets to lead their country’s goalscoring charts.
One example is Marek Hamsik, Napoli and Slovakia’s attacking midfielder who offers a great goal threat from midfield, with 12 league goals from midfield this season in Serie A. Slovakia’s strikers are out-of-form and far from prolific, so at 7/2, Hamsik is worth a shout. Another is Mesut Ozil of Germany, who will be playing just behind a lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 system. He scored nine goals in the Bundesliga for Werder Bremen this season and had a good scoring record for the German U21 side. Of Germany’s attacking players, he is the most sure of his place in the side, so 14/1 looks good value.
There are a few countries who stand a good chance of getting out of their group in second place, but will struggle when they come up against a top-notch side that has won another group in the second round. With this in mind, a few sides can be backed at decent prices to end their participation in the last 16. Denmark at 7/4 look good value here as they could face World Champions Italy in the second round, and the same price is available for Portugal, who should progress ahead of the Ivory Coast, but might be up against their neighbours Spain, a clearly superior side.
This year has two clear favourites for the competition – Brazil and Spain. If they win their groups, they would avoid each other until the final, and so odds of 10/1 on them meeting in Johannesburg on 11th July could be a decent bet.
4/1 for either country to win the whole thing isn’t particularly tempting, however, so 8/1 on an exciting Holland side might be the best value for an overall winner.ZM’s World Cup Betting Preview