The final round of international friendlies is now over. The next time the game’s top players meet will be at the century’s biggest party, Brazil 2014. Excitement is mounting around the world; not only is Brazil indisputably the best footballing nation on the planet, but the country itself is at the top of many people’s must-visit lists.
Days on the beaches and extraordinary nightlife await anybody who’s lucky enough to be going. Huge amounts of money will be wagered on teams, individual performances, and scorelines. In this article we’ll look at the tournament venues and the teams that are likely to do well, so if you’re thinking of having a bet on the outcome – read on!
Croatia have the honour of playing the hosts in the opening game on 12th June, at the Arena de Sao Paulo. Sao Paulo is Brazil’s largest city and an economic and cultural hub. The eleven other venues are spread fairly evenly across this huge country, with Manaus’s Arena Amazonia being the most remote – to get to this jungle hotspot requires either a boat or an aeroplane.
Other venues include Fortaleza, Natal and Recife in the north-east; Cuiaba and the capital, Brasilia, in the centre, and Salvador, down the coast from Recife. Porto Alegre’s Estadio Beira-Rio is the southernmost stadium. Belo Horizonte, and everyone’s dream destination, Rio de Janeiro, complete the line-up. Curitaba’s Arena de Baixada has suffered serious delays and may not be ready in time.
Teams To Watch
Brazil are five-time winners of the World Cup, and the idea of them losing the tournament on home soil is unthinkable to many people. Odds on a sixth victory are currently around 4.00, which seems quite good value. However, Argentina are also favoured at 5.00; they don’t have too far to travel and they do have Lionel Messi, who’s scored 37 times in 84 appearances for the national side.
Never discount Germany; they’re third favourites at 6.50. If they can top their group, which includes Portugal, Ghana and the USA, those odds will certainly drop. World Cup holders Spain are available to back at 8.00 as of early March.
Less likely candidates that have the advantage of being fairly close to home include Colombia and Uruguay, both currently at 26.00. Neither are likely to lift the trophy on 13th July, but may do well in the early stages. If you’re having a bet, good luck – and get ready to party!