After last month’s correct prediction that Real Madrid would win the UEFA Champions League final in extra time after a 1-1 draw in regulation, it’s now time to offer my World Cup advice. I’ve reviewed the betting odds for the World Cup and have identified four bets to increase your bankroll by the end of this summer’s tournament.
Most of us come from nations that probably won’t win the World Cup, so a wager on an outright tournament winner gives us something to root for as well as favorable odds due to the unpredictable nature of a knockout tournament. Anything can happen at a World Cup but there are four teams that represent the overwhelming favorites to win: Argentina, Brazil, Germany and Spain. It wouldn’t surprise me to see any of the four win the tournament but I think only one team has all the necessary pieces to bring the trophy home.
Spain to win the World Cup: +650
Spain, the defending European and World champion. No team has been able to come close to the dominance Spain has enjoyed over the past six years. In the past two European Championships, Spain has conceded just one goal in 12 matches on their way to back to back continental crowns. Their 2010 World Cup winning performance was nearly as impressive, conceding just two goals in their seven matches in South Africa. For a team that has won everything, the motivation of the players is often questioned, with many critics speculating that manager Vicente Del Bosque won’t be able to spark his side to one more triumph on the global stage. What critics fail to mention is that this Spanish team is playing for more than just a trophy this year; they are playing for immortality and the right to be called the greatest national team in history.
Spain played without a center forward for much of Euro 2012, utilizing a false nine strategy that saw a central midfielder, often Cesc Fabregras, play as the furthest man up the pitch. La Furia Roja will almost certainly forego that approach this summer with the addition of Diego Costa, one of the most in-form forwards in the world. The soon-to-be Chelsea forward, who was born and raised in Brazil, played twice for his native country before declaring his allegiance for Spain in late 2013, much to the ire of Selecao boss Luiz Felipe Scolari and Brazilians everywhere. Atletico Madrid’s other center forward for this past campaign will represent the best alternative to Costa this summer and that is Spain’s all-time leading scorer David Villa. Although seeing a decline in form since suffering a broken leg at the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup, Villa represents a viable alternative to Costa and can make an impact as a substitute late in a game if Spain needs to find a goal.
Much is made of the harsh Brazilian climate but the smothering heat and humidity will play into the hands of Spain and their preferred style of play. The tiki-taka philosophy of quick passing and ball retention forces opponents to relentlessly chase the ball for much of a match. The added effect of the Brazilian weather will only expedite the tiring of opponents. This style of play has created problems for Spain’s opponents in the past, and one mistake is all they need to snatch a winner, as evidenced by their series of 1-0 victories the 2010 World Cup.