It seems the general opinion on who will win this summer’s World Cup is very much split. Any of the so called ‘big 4’ could be successful in Brazil amongst others and the bookies seem to agree. By looking at previous World Cups down the years we should be able to narrow this down further though and find the best bets at the 2014 World Cup.
One easy way to rule out many teams is to look at the continent where the World Cup is being hosted. There have been 19 World Cups and in 15 of those the winner has been playing in their home continent. It takes a truly exceptional team to win outside of their home continent which is why 3 of the 4 times it has happened the World Cup has been won by Brazil. On the other occasion Spain won the World Cup in South Africa but since there was no outstanding home contender on that occasion the result has to be taken with a slight pinch of salt.
The conditions at this World Cup will be quite different to a European World Cup which should put the South American teams at an advantage. With the stats so strongly favouring a team playing in their home continent (or a Brazil win) then the only possible winners might be Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador.
Shocks at the World Cup tend to happen in individual matches rather than over the entire tournament with 6 of the last 7 World Cup winners starting the tournament at odds of 7/1 or less. Out of the South Americans that would only leave Brazil and Argentina and picking between the two isn’t easy. Brazil have plenty of flair but are also one of the most solid teams at the World Cup whilst Argentina have the best attack in the entire tournament.
The fact that Brazil are hosting this year gives them the advantage over their Argentinean rivals. The winner of the World Cup has been the host on 6 occasions and twice the hosts have been beaten finalists. Brazil proved how good they are at home last summer when winning the Confederations Cup after a 3-0 thrashing of Spain in the final. Anyone who can’t pick between Brazil and Argentina can back them paired at 5/4 but Brazil look the safer overall bet at 3/1.
Bets at more exciting prices are available in the World Cup top scorer betting. Typically you want a player to represent a team who will reach the semi final as they can then play a total of 7 games rather than just 5. At the last World Cup four players tied at the top of the scoring charts and all of those played in the semi final. Also in 2002 Brazil won the World Cup and also provided the Golden Boot (Ronaldo).
Backing one player for both Brazil and Argentina could be a sound strategy given the teams are in separate halves of the draw plus both sides have easy group games providing plenty of goalscoring opportunities. For Brazil it seems better to overlook the well fancied Neymar in favour of Fred. Fred is a much bigger price at 33/1 yet outscored Neymar at the 2013 Confederations Cup.
The best bet for Argentina may be Gonzalo Higuain at 25/1 rather than Lionel Messi at a much shorter price. Messi scored one more goals than Higuain during qualification but Higuain’s goals per minute ratio was much better (a goal every 95.4 mins compared to Messi’s 114.3 mins). Also note that Higuain scored 4 times at the last World Cup where Messi failed to score.
Both Fred and Higuain are worth backing but Higuain is the more confident selection with Argentina being drawn in such a weak group (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nigeria and Iran). With Brazil fancied to win the World Cup a bet on Brazil Higuain in the winner/top scorer market also looks a good call as the odds are massive at 150/1.