Welcome to the first preview of the first two days of the World Cup in Brazil for 2014. It’s time for the football to do all the talking on the pitch as we get underway with Brazil taking on Croatia in what should be fitting fixture to open the tournament. My aim is to provide previews on every single match at this World Cup in 2 day increments. In something a little different to how I normally approach the English Premier League season I’ll also be listing a Next Best Bet and a Value Bet (where applicable) in addition to what I feel in my opinion is the best betting option for each match with my confidence rating on each bet in also indicated. Let’s get stuck into it.
**Betting odds from Betfair as at 11th June 2014
Opening Match – 13th June
Group A – Brazil ($1.34) versus Croatia ($13), Draw ($5.6)
The opening game begins with host nation Brazil taking on Croatia in what should be a fairly good contest early. I say early because you’d expect Brazil to put the foot on the pedal pretty hard after the opening 15 minutes once they’ve settled any nerves. Favourites to win the whole thing, Brazil will be a difficult opponent for Croatia to break down especially in front of an intimidating and loud home crowd. Perhaps what makes it even more difficult for Croatia here is main hit man Mario Mandzukic won’t be available due to suspension. That leaves it to the capable Jelavic to fill his boots in this opening game. Croatia biggest strength I feel is their midfield led by Modric who will have able support for Rakitic and the rising star in Kovacic. If they can gain some sort of control in midfield they’ll give Jelavic a chance but it may end up being too late for him to take those chances as I can see Brazil running away with this in the first half to make a statement to the home crowd and the rest of the world that they are the ones to beat.
Predicted score: Brazil 2 – 0
Best Bet: Brazil to win at $1.34 (95%)
Next Best: Brazil to lead at Half Time at $1.87 (75%)
Value Bet: Brazil for the Half Time/Full Time Double at $2.06 (70%)
14th June Fixtures
Group A – Mexico ($2.3) versus Cameroon ($3.85), Draw ($3.2)
Mexico take on Cameroon in the second fixture of the tournament in what is a crucial game for both sides to get on the board early before they have to play Croatia and Brazil. It’s almost a 3 way battle for that second spot, assuming Brazil don’t falter, with Cameroon the longest shot of the 3 to make it. If they can get a good result here though it’s certainly not beyond them to nab a point off Croatia. For me, both these sides seem evenly matched with both sides good on the break so we could be in for some end to end football and it may just be a case of who can score first and hold off the other. I think Mexico will end up coming out on top though in the end especially if they can apply the pressure quickly on the Cameroon defence. There are some quality players in the Cameroon side lead by Eto’o, Song, and rising star Joel Matip but with Eto’o a fading threat I think Mexico can take full advantage and will pile on the pressure to grab a win. With Mexico making the last 16 at their last 6 World Cup appearances, a win here would put them well on their way to achieving that again and this along with the Croatia game will be their most crucial.
Predicted score: Mexico 2 – 0
Best Bet: Over 1.5 goals at $1.58 (85%)
Next Best: Double Chance Mexico at $1.32 (80%)
Group B – Spain ($1.89) versus Netherlands ($5.4), Draw ($3.45)
Perhaps the biggest game to take place in the early stages of the World Cup is the rematch of the final of the 2010 version with Spain taking on the Netherlands. There’s no doubt Spain look a superior outfit here with the Dutch coping with a few injury worries in the build-up and with a key player in Strootman ruled out. With Strootman ruled out there has been talk of a reshuffle of the formation that Van Gaal may employ with 3 at the back. That could be a good move in order to pack the midfield a little more in order to restrict the space that Spain like to use to create chances and pass the ball around. As a result it could end up that we’re in for a low scoring affair similar to that of the last time these two met in 2010 where it took an extra time goal from Iniesta to break the deadlock and win 1-0. Perhaps in line with such a result is both these sides last 3 games in the lead up to this one have all been under 2.5 goals. Look for a pretty tight game here either way with it likely to be just a goal in it.
Predicted score: Spain 1-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.58 (80%)
Next Best: Spain to win at $1.89 (75%)
Value Bet: Spain by +1 at $3.5 (65%) looks pretty good value
Group B – Chile ($1.48) versus Australia ($9.4), Draw ($4.4)
The final game for Saturday see’s the biggest underdogs at the World Cup in Australia take on the dangerous Chile. When these groups were drawn this was seen as the group of death and whilst it’s pretty much mission impossible for the Aussie’s here I don’t think there’s reason not to be a little optimistic. It’s not great to have to rely on key players to be missing from the opposition to give ourselves a chance but with Aturo Vidal out, arguably their most important player, it does open the door a little for the Socceroos. If he somehow does make it at the last minute though I’d suspect he’d receive plenty of attention in midfield with a few tackles to test him out. There is however another big name in Alexis Sanchez that they’ll have to keep an eye on. The Barcelona star had a massive season in 2013/14 scoring 19 goals in 27 games whilst also chipping in with 10 assists. Along with Sanchez they should be equally wary of Vargas who equal top scored with Sanchez with 5 goals during their qualifying campaign. I think the one advantage Australia possess here will be at set-pieces with our height potential to cause problems for a Chile side that lacks a little in that department with Cahill likely to be a huge threat if he can get on target. There’s been a lot of conjecture about whether Australia can score at all at this World Cup. There is no doubting the quickness and dangerousness of this Chile side but they are vulnerable at the back. During qualifying they won 9 of 16 games (conceding 25 whilst scoring 29) but they also lost 6 which suggests they are weak at the back and not with a lot of defensive depth. I’d suspect Australia will go with a pretty quick frontline in support of Cahill to get them on the counter. This will be their best chance of scoring at this World Cup and I’m quietly confident that they can do so regardless of the end result of the match.
Predicted score: Chile 2-1
Best Bet: Chile to win at $1.48 (85%)
Next Best: Chile to lead at half time at $2.06 (70%)
Value Bet: Both teams to score at $2.3 (60%)
All of the above are the opinions of the author and are not recommendations or advice. The author may not be taking every bet listed above. Bet at your own risk.
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