2014 World Cup Brazil – June 15th – 16th

With the first 4 games out of the way it’s time to concentrate on the next 7 over the next two days and if you thought the first 4 games were big, there’s some even bigger contests lined up here. To pick a few from the bunch, England versus Italy, Argentina versus Bosnia-Herzegovina look the pick of the contests but it’ll also be good to see France, Colombia, and Uruguay in action who are all capable of going deep in this World Cup if they are at their best.

**Betting odds from Betfair as at 14th June 2014

15th June Fixtures

Colombia ($1.94) versus Greece ($5.3), Draw ($3.35)

Colombia take on Greece in the first of the day’s fixtures in what looks like an interesting matchup. Colombia of course will be without Falcao after having to pull out through injury but I don’t think it’ll disadvantage them too much in regards to their ability to win games and perform. This could be a game where we see a Greece looking to sit back and counter with Colombia looking to attack from the outset. They could well play with 3 at the back which would assist against a Greek side expected to pack the midfield to stem the attacking threat of the Colombians. There’s a bit of a mysteriousness to this Greek side as they can be pretty dangerous so the Colombians will need to be pretty wary and in particular of Mitroglou. The Fulham striker isn’t coming off the greatest of seasons having made just the one appearance due to injury, but he can be a danger man and needs to be here. Greece have struggled for goals in their 4 lead up games with just the 2 against Boliva in their last game. In the end we should be in for a pretty tight game with both teams set to score.

Predicted score: Draw 1-1

Best Bet: Over 1.5 goals at $1.59 (80%)

Next Best: Greece Clean Sheet – No at $1.31 (80%)

Uruguay ($1.5) versus Costa Rica ($9.8), Draw ($4.4)

Uruguay kick off their campaign with a meeting against Costa Rica in what looks to be a one-sided contest with Uruguay certainly boasting one of the top attacks in World football right now. The expectation on Saurez to score here will be high but his season suggests it should be little trouble for the deadly striker. Along with Cavani who he’ll likely play off just behind I feel like he’s set to cause some havoc here with plenty of license to do as he pleases. This isn’t to say however that Costa Rica don’t have their own attacking quality, but they may be in for a tough time trying to slow Suarez and Cavani if they are on from the first whistle. A couple to watch will be Joel Campbell (8 goals from 32 games on loan at Olympiacos) and Bryan Ruiz (On loan at PSV, 5 goals from 14 games last season). In the end though I dare say the quality of Uruguay’s attack will get them over the line after a nervy first 10-20 minutes.

Predicted score: Uruguay 2-1

Best Bet: Over 1.5 goals at $1.43 (90%)

Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $2.34 (80%)

Value Bet: Suarez anytime goal scorer at $2.3 (70%)

England ($2.94) versus Italy ($2.96), Draw ($3.05)

One of the highly anticipated contests takes place with England taking on Italy on a pitch that has certainly been a talking point in the lead-up. If you haven’t seen the pictures, it looks absolutely shocking so much so that they’ve resorted to painting the grass green for aesthetic purposes. Let’s just hope the football is the thing that’s aesthetically pleasing at the very least. Italy hold a strong record over England winning 4 of the last 5 meetings. Both sides have had a pretty dull lead-up in their warm-up games as well with both sides drawing their last two games. With this a crucial game for both sides we could be in for a tight contest with neither side looking to give an inch with tough fixtures against Uruguay and Costa Rica to follow. This is certainly one of, if not, the toughest group of all with arguably 3 contenders that could push through to the Quarter’s or Semi’s at the least if they are at their best. There’s a lot to like about the youth pushing through for both sides and I think if one side is going to win it, it’ll be the youth having an influence on the result such as a Raheem Sterling coming off the bench to cause problems with his pace. We should see a couple of goals here but I just feel both sides will cancel each other out in the end as neither side will want to lose as it’ll put them too much on the back foot for their remaining games to qualify for the last 16.

Predicted score: Draw 1-1

Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.55 (80%)

Next Best: Both teams to score at $2.22 (65%)

Ivory Coast ($2.72) versus Japan ($3.05), Draw ($3.25)

The Ivory Coast take on Japan in their first fixture of this World Cup in what looks like an intriguing meeting between a physical, powerful side against a quick a skilful Japan. I don’t think we can underestimate either side here too much with both boasting some quality players in key areas. We of course all know how damaging Drogba can be even at the tender age of 36 and with 65 goals score for his nation, the Japanese defence will certainly have their hands full. He’ll be well supported by Yaya Toure but also another two players who I feel will fly under the radar in Kalou and Gervinho. Gervinho is coming off a strong season with Roma and looks a different player to the one we saw at Arsenal scoring 8 goals, whilst Kalou has scored 30 goals in 66 games for Lille scoring 16 last season along with 5 assists. Japan will need to be wary of those two if they are to hold off this attacking Ivory Coast side, not to mention another striker in Bony who can certainly create an impact if Drogba has a bad game.

If Ivory Coast can control the midfield and keep the ball away from the key Japanese playmakers in Kagawa and Honda, they’ll have a great shot at starting with a win here if their own defence can hold up.

Predicted score: Ivory Coast 2-1

Best Bet: Japan Clean Sheet – No – at $1.39 (85%)

Next Best: Over 1.5 goals at $1.45 (80%)

Value Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $2.3 (70%)

16th June Fixtures

Switzerland ($2.6) versus Ecuador ($3.3), Draw ($3.15)

An underrated Switzerland side open their World Cup campaign against a dangerous Ecuador. The Swiss had a brilliant qualifying campaign where they conceded just the 6 goals so the Ecuadorians will need to be at their best to break down this defence. When you look at their squad there is some exciting young talent particularly in their young striker Josip Drmic who had a great season with Nurnberg scoring 17 from 33 appearances. At the same time whilst I don’t think we should underestimate Ecuador as they have some fine players themselves, the Swiss just look like a more complete side throughout and will be hard to beat here. Ecuador can take some confidence out of their 2-2 draw with England in their last warm-up game but I think their biggest issue could be in trying not to concede. They’ve conceded in their past 4 games letting through 9 goals and with a Swiss side boasting plenty of attacking prowess in Drmic, Shaquiri, and Mehmedi, I don’t think they’ll be able to keep a clean sheet here.

Predicted score: Switzerland 2-0

Best Bet: Switzerland Double Chance at $1.42 (85%)

Next Best: Over 1.5 goals at $1.6 (80%)

Value Bet: Josip Drmic anytime scorer at $2.96 (65%)

France ($1.35) versus Honduras ($14), Draw ($5.1)

France are certainly one of the dark horses here even if they are missing Ribery. They take on Honduras in their first game and will be eager to get off to a positive start. Perhaps one thing against them will be their own mindset. They are in one of the easiest groups at this World Cup and a lack of concentration even for a short time could leave them undone. One of the factors in the past that has haunted this French side has been the reports of arguments behind closed doors and I think it was a big statement for a player of the quality such as Samir Nasri to be left out of the squad, reportedly on request of team Captain Hugo Lloris. If that statement can turn into a unified team then France can go a long way, starting with Honduras. As long as they don’t underestimate the underdogs, who held England to a goalless draw, then France should get a comfortable win. France will be beaming with confidence after 8-0 thumping over Jamaica, albeit weak opposition, and have largely had a solid build-up to this first game beating the Netherlands in March with a 4-0 win over Norway not long after. Look for Benzema to get on the scoresheet if he leads the line.

Predicted score: France 3-0

Best Bet: France to win at $1.35 (90%)

Next Best: Both teams to score – No – at $1.53 (75%)

Value Bet: Benzema anytime scorer at $2.1 (70%)

Argentina ($1.44) versus Bosnia-Herzegovina ($9.6), Draw ($4.8)

One of the World Cup Favourites in Argentina takes on a tough Bosnia-Herzegovina side that are unlikely to be pushovers by any means. Argentina do have a slight worry ahead of the game with Higuain a doubt through injury. It’s a blow, but at least they can slot a more than capable Aguero in to lead the line with Messi to play a bit wider. It’s a great luxury to have such attacking talent and will be something Bosnia will be focused on mitigating as much as possible. Bosnia-Herzegovina’s best chances will likely come through set-pieces as they possess some deadly players in this area. Salihovic is one to watch as is Miralem Pjanic and of course target man Edin Dzeko. Pjanic is their key man here as he’ll provide the creativity from midfield. From 2012 to 2014 he’s played for his country 12 times scoring 4 goals and notching up 8 assists so it’s clear he can be a big influence. Bosnia had a largely smooth qualification run as well scoring 30 times in 10 games whilst only conceding 6 times. This however will be a completely different level of opponent and I just wonder how they can keep Messi, Aguero, and Di Maria quiet for 90 minutes. I think they’d be doing well to hold out early but with Argentina looking too strong it’s hard to not see them getting the 3 points.

Predicted score: Argentina 2-0

Best Bet: Argentina to win at $1.44 (85%)

Next Best: Argentina half time/full time at $2.22 (70%)

Please Note:
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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As an Australian growing up AFL was always my no.1 sport especially given I was lucky enough to grow up a few blocks from Carlton’s home ground, Princes Park, where I was lucky enough to attend many games. That’s where my passion for sport began but it was until the early 2000’s when I discovered a real passion for football with the Socceroos 2002 World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay accelerating my football journey. From there I began to follow the Premier League and haven’t looked back since. These days I’m a massive Tottenham fan where I’ve enjoyed many sleepless nights religiously watching them without missing a game despite many roller coaster feelings. There’s just something magical and glamorous when you watch the EPL and knowing the Profits owners Drew and Euan through studies, I’m now lucky enough to be able to share my thoughts on each game each week of the season.

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