Germany destroyed Brazil in the World Cup semi-final – can they do the same to Argentina?

Can Germany's Toni Kroos add to the two goals he scored against Brazil?

Can Germany’s Toni Kroos add to the two goals he scored against Brazil?

Back in 2011, former England defender Gary Neville said of David Luiz “He plays football like he’s being controlled by a 10-year-old on a Playstation”. And there were certainly aspects of Playstation-style football on Tuesday put a remarkable seven goals past Brazil, including four in a breathtaking six-minute spell before half-time.

Argentina’s semi-final against the Netherlands couldn’t have been more different, with Alejandro Sabella’s team needing a penalty shoot-out to see off the Oranje. Argentina go into Sunday’s final as underdogs, with Intertops.eu match odds having the Albiceleste at +120 and Germany at +154 (all odds are subject to change).

The margin of victory is unlikely to be anywhere close to the semi-final, with Argentina having played out six tight games so far, but Jogi Löw’s Germany have plenty of firepower. Thomas Müller has already scored five goals for the second World Cup running, and two more will see the Bayern Munich player end the tournament with the Golden Boot. He is +200 for that honor, with Colombia playmaker James Rodriguez (who has six goals, but has been eliminated from the tournament) the -200 favorite.

Will we see a repeat of the 1986 final – when Argentina edged past Germany in a five-goal thriller – or will it be more like the 1990 final when the European side had their revenge with a 1-0 win?

It has been an incredible tournament so far, but a classic final would truly cap it off. Let us know who you think will win in the comments section below.

Germany v Argentina, Sunday, July 13

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tv TOM VICTOR (editor) is the editor and co-founder of Betting Instinct. He has written for a variety of    sports sites in the past, including JustFootball, Footy Matters and BeNeFoot. You can follow him  on Twitter or Google+.

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Germany vs Argentina: the final that nobody wanted

After struggling through the knockout stages, will this be one game too far for Argentina?

After struggling through the knockout stages, will this be one game too far for Argentina?

Why do we love football? There’s the superficial answer, of course: that perfectly-timed slide tackle from Javier Mascherano, that sublime finish on the bounce from Andre Schurrle, and, yes, that entire German humiliation of Brazil, one not characterised by mere ‘efficiency’, as BBC commentators and pundits erroneously argued in the clichéd and mildly xenophobic tones to which we are accustomed, but by an intoxicating mix of the aesthetic and the ruthless.

Sometimes, that’s good enough. Sometimes, players’ individual brilliance shines through, and that’s sufficient to placate us, the demanding fans. Sometimes, teams simply put on that kind of show, or, in the case of the hosts, collapse entirely, in which case we’re drawn to the spectacle like so many passers-by to a motorway pile-up. In other cases, it isn’t. The second semi-final was a case in point: a dreadful match in which two of the best players in the world, Lionel Messi and Arjen Robben, were for the most part anonymous; an abject 0-0 after an abject 120 minutes. Football can delight like no other sport yet invented, but—let’s face it—sometimes, just sometimes, it can be crap.

 

When that happens, we need something else to sustain our interest. In fact, we need that most annoying of think-piece buzzwords: we need #NARRATIVE. Kevin Keegan wrongly (but wonderfully) framed things geographically when he said that Newcastle fans go to St James’ Park ‘like the people down South go to a theatre.’ His sentiment, however, was sound. It isn’t that ‘goals are overrated’: not since 1974 has a World Cup third-place playoff (a #NARRATIVE-less match if ever there was one) finished with less than three goals, which alone justifies its presence in the tournament. Goals are great. But when there aren’t any goals—what then?

 

Germany v Argentina Betting Odds:

Germany to win the World Cup – 1.65

Argentina to win the World Cup – 2.20

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

Nobody wanted this final. Spain aside, perhaps, Germany and Argentina are the strongest two teams in the world, and still nobody wanted this final. Argentina haven’t scored more than once since the group stages, relying on extra time and penalties to sneak through to their fifth World Cup Final. And Germany knocked out Rais M’Bolhi’s Algeria, which is reason enough to will for their demise. With Germany’s demolition of Brazil fresh in the memory, Argentina might well channel the playing style of their neighbours, who resorted to kicking and spoiling in their quarter-final with Colombia. There’s also the small matter of this being the single most important match in every one of these players’ careers, a scenario that inevitably leads to caution.

This would be fine if there were only a #NARRATIVE to cushion the blow, but there isn’t. The best we can come up with is a Battle of the Living Popes, which sounds more like a Syfy B-movie than it does a football match. Continuing the religious theme, there’s the fact that this is the first World Cup held during Ramadan since 1986, when Argentina and Germany also contested the final. And there’s the moral dilemma that the match will throw up for reactionary English football fans, the two countries involved being historical enemies of our Green and Pleasant Land. As one fan so stirringly tweeted (since deleted, strangely): ‘Any British person supporting Argentina should be dragged to the Cenotaph and made to read the names of those who died in the Falklands.’ Right.

 

It didn’t have to be this way. It could’ve been perfect, in fact, the semis giving life to a glorious set of possibilities for the next and final phase, the draw’s branches so nearly extending to two of the biggest rivalries in international football. Oh, for Brazil vs Argentina, at the Maracana, in a World Cup Final: a match in which the brilliant and/or bizarre is almost guaranteed, a rerun of the Italia ’90 knockout game in which the Brazilian Branco claimed to have been given water spiked with tranquilisers by the Argentinian coaching staff. Or for a Germany vs Netherlands, a wartime rivalry that continues to linger: think Gerd Muller putting the kibosh on Total Football in 1974; think Frank Rijkaard’s phlegm; think Ronald Koeman pretending to wipe his backside with the shirt of Olaf Thon, smiling as he goes.

Football wouldn’t be football without such moments, illogical and indefensible as they are. Football isn’t all slide tackles, or goals, or complete performances. Football is #NARRATIVE, whether we like it or not: it’s cheating, it’s fighting, it’s spitting in another man’s hair—twice. Only one avenue remains open to us, then, if we are to spare ourselves Sunday’s coming boredom: we milk the Battle of the Living Popes, and we milk it for all it’s worth.

 

Betting Instinct tip – Germany to win with less than 2.5 goals in the game is 3.37 with Intertops.eu.

Unsure about how decimal odds work? Let our free odds calculation guide do the work for you.

Kieran avatar KIERAN DODDS (kierandodds) is a history student and writer. He has written about sport, politics and  current affairs for the Guardian, the Huffington Post, Africa is a Country, When Saturday Comes, IBWM and  others. Follow Kieran on Twitter or Google+.

Knack of the Bet: Spies, Salsa and Shaky Defences in the World Cup Quarter Finals

Will Brazil be celebrating again after their quarter final?

Will Brazil be celebrating again after their quarter final against Colombia?

 

Paul Watson of Back of the Net gives his not altogether serious previews of the World Cup quarter-finals. The odds are real but the logic behind the bets may be a little far fetched.

France v Germany Betting Odds:

France to qualify – 2.15

Germany to qualify – 1.67

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

France were relieved to avoid an awkward, politically charged clash with Algeria, instead they line up against Germany – a nation they have never had any problems with. Thoughts will inevitably turn to 1982 and the infamous foul from German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher on French defender Patrick Battiston, which knocked him unconscious. Fortunately there’s unlikely to be any repeat as current German ‘keeper Manuel Neuer’s standard position is on the halfway line – a position from which he could easily open the scoring.

Expect a tense, brutal encounter that may need extra time to decide, again a first for clashes between these countries.

Key Clash – Griezmann v Mertesacker

Antoine Griezmann energised France when he came on as a substitute against Nigeria and his pace could worry Per Mertesacker whose fastest recorded time over 50 metres is more than six minutes.

 

Brazil v Colombia Betting Odds:

Brazil to qualify – 1.40

Colombia to qualify – 2.90

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

Home advantage is a massive factor in World Cups. Brazil have already benefited from their right as hosts to win any penalty shootout and may try and make Colombia feel awkward by repeatedly mentioning how much effort they have gone to in putting on the World Cup.

Neymar is already challenging Pele’s reputation in Brazil and Luiz Felipe Scolari is likely to stick with Neymar given Pele’s poor scoring form over the last 26 years. Colombia’s danger man James Rodriguez could trouble Brazil’s back line. The press have nicknamed him James Bond, partly due to his anglicised name and partly for his tendency to survive attempts on his life before bedding glamorous yet ultimately dangerous women.

Back Rodriguez to score in 90 minutes (a goal that is), but the Colombians are unlikely to commit the faux pas of putting the hosts out.

Key Clash – Neymar v Fred

Neymar will look to continue his lethal form and looks a good bet for first scorer, but he will have to contend with Fred, who has shown he is capable of shutting down wave after wave of Brazilian attacks.

Betting Instinct tip – James Rodriguez to score at any time is 4.00 with Intertops.eu

 

Argentina v Belgium Betting Odds:

Argentina to qualify – 1.53

Belgium to qualify – 2.45

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

Tipped as dark horses ahead of the competition, Belgium are looking ever more equine, but they come up against a massive test in Argentina. Inspired by Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria, who averages a goal from every 100 chances, Argentina aren’t short of attacking threat, but they can look exposed at the back.

Argentina’s defence has looked shaky from set pieces, when teams run at them at pace, when teams pass it around slowly and during the national anthem, so backing both teams to score may be sensible.

The last time these two sides met at a competition was in 1986 when Argentina won 2-0 en route to glory, but very few of the players involved are expected to start, so little can be gauged from that.

Key Clash – Di Maria v Di Maria

Angel Di Maria could make all the difference for Argentina with his tireless runs from deep positions and his willingness to take defences on, but his efforts could be in vain if Angel Di Maria proves as profligate as he did for long periods against Switzerland.

 

Netherlands v Costa Rica Betting Odds:

Netherlands to qualify – 1.22

Costa Rica to qualify – 4.20

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

The Netherlands would appear to be overwhelming favourites to reach the semi-finals, but you underestimate Costa Rica at your peril unless you have an unusually high opinion of Costa Rica, in which case you’re pretty much spot on.

Despite having a population of just 42, half of whom are in the World Cup squad, Costa Rica overcame Greece on penalties when Greece were no longer able to prevent shots being had on goal. Led by Bryan Ruiz, who appears to have been transformed from the pleasantly ineffectual player Fulham fans knew to a lethal goal getter, Costa Rica will look to reach the last four and force fans to finally look up where it is on a map.

Much of the Dutch attacking threat will come from Arjen Robben and his tested tactic of running into the box and allowing a stiff breeze to knock him over could be decisive.

Key Clash – Proto-Surrealism v Salsa Lizano

The Dutch will look to unsettle Costa Rica with fantastical imagery illustrating religious concepts and narratives, but expect Costa Rica to fight back with liberal lashings of a rich vegetable sauce with a tangy, spicy flavour.

Betting Instinct tip The Netherlands to win in regulation time is 1.50 with AllYouBet.ag.

Unfamiliar with decimal odds? Let our odds calculation guide help you out.

Paul avatar PAUL WATSON (paolowatson) is the other half of Back of the Net, alongside fellow Betting Instinct  blogger John Foster. Paul wrote the book Up Pohnpei, and you can follow Back of the Net on FacebookTwitter or  Google+.

The World Cup has already spoilt fans, but there is plenty more to come

Can surprise package Costa Rica keep their incredible run going against the Netherlands?

Can surprise package Costa Rica keep their incredible run going against the Netherlands?

 

For the first time in World Cup history, the last eight is compromised entirely of nations who topped their groups at the group stage.

It’s a fitting quarter-final line up for a tournament that has—for the most part—mercilessly punished mediocrity and compromise wherever it has reared up. Spain’s complacency saw them dumped out of the running early on while the cracks within England’s and Italy’s game plans were quickly exposed and exploited to send them home before the knockout rounds. The likes of Cameroon, Portugal and Russia have been outfought, outclassed and nonchalantly tossed to the wayside by better teams filled with real courage and conviction.

 

Few would deny that the World Cup has already spoilt its global audience with the action that it has produced so far, but now it’s time attention turned to the so-called “business end” of proceedings, where the names of stages are mounted with the suffix of “final” and honours are ultimately decided.

That all sounds very sobering and serious however, the fun isn’t over just yet. With the final scheduled to take place at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday July 13, the following four quarter-final fixtures look set to lay the foundations for a grandstand finale worthy of the exhilarating momentum of the early rounds.

 

Friday July 4th, 5 pm (GMT): France vs. Germany – an Old World battle for authenticity

For many, the loss of Franck Ribery to injury and the exiling of Samir Nasri after a season-long personal renaissance with Manchester City cast doubt on France’s credentials heading into the tournament. Yet Didier Deschamps’ side now stands relatively tall amongst the narrowing field of nations still in the competition as one of the few teams not carrying any obvious fatal flaw, having thrashed Honduras and Switzerland and beaten Nigeria 2-0 in normal time.

Germany on the other hand jetted off to Brazil hyped up on the recent successes of the Bundesliga and their intimidating roster of matured stars and exciting young prospects. However, Jogi Löw’s team looked less than convincing against Algeria and Ghana, with his decision to persist with Philipp Lahm in midfield amid diminished options at full-back looking rather self-consciously contrarian and stubbornly pretentious rather than brave or bold.

They struggled to assert themselves in front of goal against the USA, and their brittle back line consisting of four centre-backs looked vulnerable to the pace and determination of Algeria, who were unfortunate not to covert a stream of chances over 120 minutes of normal and extra time. Even their 4-0 win over Portugal felt more like a brutal exposé of the Iberians’ failings than a testament to the victors’ quality and intent.

Blunt in attack and pedestrian in defence, Germany may not be able to live with France’s attacking power, which could yet be enhanced further should Deschamps finally decide to start Antoine Griezmann over Olivier Giroud. The Real Sociedad forward’s movement and magic on the ball off the bench saw him put the game against Nigeria beyond doubt, and alongside Mathieu Valbuena he could be too clever and cunning for Low’s four-man central defence to handle.

Betting Instinct tip France to win in 90 minutes is +200 with AllYouBet.ag

 

Friday July 4, 9 pm (GMT): Brazil vs. Colombia – the work in progress or the accidental master plan?

Where would Brazil be without Neymar? Luiz Felipe Scolari’s team look utterly dependent on their one true star as they struggle towards what they believe to be their destiny: a chance to right the wrongs of 1950 when they lost in the final of their first home World Cup to Uruguay. If the rumours over his failing fitness prove to be true then that dream is as good as dead.

Colombia lost their own talisman before the summer even began when Radamel Falcao was cut down by injury and ruled out of the World Cup. Yet his absence has lead Jose Pekerman to create arguably a more well-rounded side who look like the team Scolari wishes he could create with Brazil.

Regardless of how you say his name, James Rodriguez has been one of the players of the tournament, supported by a cast of diligent co-stars who look solid if not always spectacular. To call Colombia functional is not to insult them. They have produced some wonderful moments already in Brazil yet the solidity of the foundations Pekerman has put together cannot be overstated.

Their quarter-final opponents didn’t take too well to facing off against South American opponents ready and willing to outclass and outfight them in the round of 16 against Chile, with the World Cup hosts getting overly physical with Arturo Vidal & co. at times. Don’t be surprised if tempers boil over in the sweltering heat of Forteleza if things don’t go Brazil’s way and Colombia gain the upper hand.

It will take a brave referee to show the red card to a Brazilian player, but given the instability and intensity of the emotions surrounding their tournament, a dismissal is a real possibility.

Betting Instinct tip a red card to be shown in regular time is +250 with Intertops.eu

 

Saturday July 5, 5 pm (GMT): Argentina vs. Belgium – the unexpected snooze fest

Lionel Messi’s showdown with the pre-tournament dark horses would have been touted as one of the ties of the round on paper had such a game been proposed back in May, but given both teams’ struggles to match their billing and to light up  the tournament, it could well prove to be the most underwhelming quarter-final on offer.

Belgium’s lack of full-backs has led them to look all-too-staid going forwards, while injuries and uncertain form have lead to Alejandro Sabella switching up his formations and team selections to hamper the fluidity of his side.

Even with their formidable rosters of attacking talent, both nations required late, late goals to overcome their round of 16 opponents and punters could be in for another stodgy, rigid anti-spectacle as Argentina go through the motions against a group of dark horses who have so far looked more like beige donkeys.

Betting Instincct Tip: No goals in standard time is +700 with AllYouBet.ag

 

Saturday July 5, 9 pm (GMT): Netherlands vs. Costa Rica – a quarter played on the counter

He who daren’t, wins could well be the mantra by which victory is secured in Salvador as The Netherlands and Costa Rica both look to continue to succeed by catching each other out on the break with three-man defences and spontaneous attackers.

All logic and reason dictates that the Dutch should outclass their cross-Atlantic opponents, but as shown by Uruguay, Italy, England and Greece, underrating the chances of the Central Americans is a somewhat perilous exercise.

Louis van Gaal’s team will undoubtedly be the best opposition the Costa Ricans have faced yet however, and if Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben are on form, it’s hard not to assume the Oranje should progress, and with a rather handsome margin of victory.

Having said that, it’s hard to say whether it’d even be a surprise anymore if the underdogs somehow claimed the scalp of yet another Goliath to barge their way into the semi-finals.

Betting Instinct tip – Robin van Persie to score two or more goals is +275 with Intertops.eu

Unfamiliar with American-style betting odds? Check out our odds calculation guide to find out how to translate to decimal or fractional

Greg avatar GREG JOHNSON (gregianjohnson) is a freelance football writer based in London and contributor to  FourFourTwo, Squawka, Drowned In Sound and Mirror Football. He also co-edits The False Nine football  blog and podcast. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.

Chile Knocked Spain Out but Not Expected to Win Against Unbeaten Brazil

worldcup-brazilvschile

Brazil cruised through its group in first place but now the World Cup host team now faces a big test in the second round against Chile.

Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Brazil team is a strong favorite at -167 after staying unbeaten so far in its first home World Cup since 1950. Chile impressed when knocking out holders Spain, but is a +450 outsider to shock the host nation in Belo Horizonte.

“Brazil made a slow start, but with the 4-1 win against Cameroon the Selecao showed real signs of being a potential World Cup winner,” an oddsmaker at AllYouBet.ag Sportsbook told me yesterday.  “Still, we shouldn’t underestimate Chile. Five different players have scored goals for Jorge Sampaoli’s team, so we know they are capable of threatening from a number of routes.”

Brazilian golden boy Neymar has impressed in the first three matches, and is one of bookmakers’ favorites to win the Golden Boot, awarded to the tournament’s top scorer. The 22-year-old can be backed at +185.

All World Cup odds mentioned are provide by AllYouBet.ag and are subject to change.

Brazil vs Chile, Saturday, June 28

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The Gamblogger gambling blogGAMBLOGGER (gamblogger) is one of the editors of BettingInstinct. He talks mainly about poker and casino games in his gambling blog and on his YouTube channel but can’t help but get caught up in sports betting during World Cup, Super Bowl and March Madness.

Klinsmann & Loew Both Determined to Take Group G but Oddsmakers Favor Three-time Champion

Three-time champions favored in World Cup USA vs Germany

Three-time champions favored in World Cup USA vs Germany

USA vs Germany has got to be the most keenly anticipated World Cup 14 matchups and their game tomorrow will now decide who will triumph in Group G and advance to Stage 2. Oddsmakers see Germany as a strong favorite to top the USA when the two meet tomorrow. The three-time world champion only needs a draw to win the group and so is quoted at -2500 by Intertops Sportsbook with the Americans at +900.

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USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann and his German counterpart are good friends, but they’re both equally determined to win. Klinsmann, who coached his country at the 2006 World Cup with Loew as his assistant, has made it clear that he wants to beat his homeland and win the group.

“We have that fighting spirit and we give everything in every game,” Klinsmann told reporters. “We will go to Recife and we will give everything to beat Germany. That is our goal.”

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The Gamblogger gambling blogGAMBLOGGER (gamblogger) is one of the editors of BettingInstinct. He talks mainly about poker and casino games in his gambling blog and on his YouTube channel but can’t help but get caught up in sports betting during World Cup, Super Bowl and March Madness.

Chilean and Dutch defences will succumb to Brazil and Mexico in World Cup second round

Javier Hernandez celebratesBrazil managed to avoid the proverbial cat-amongst-the-pigeons in the shape of Cameroon on Monday night and continued the long line of hosts to book a place in the second phase of their own World Cup where they will face the media’s current dark-horse-that-actually-isn’t-one in the shape of Chile.

Neymar is now on top of the scoring charts following the 4-1 demolition of the first African side to be knocked out of the tournament and Fred even managed to bundle one in but should Brazil have let the foot off the gas to try and set up a tie with Holland?

In a word, no. Although Chile look like a tasty proposition through the sumptuous ball play combined with their trademark toughness, the team just doesn’t know when to stick and not continually twist, to borrow some terms from poker. The side plays so high up the pitch when ahead in games it certainly looks as though a team that can get in behind, such as a Brazil led by Neymar, can take advantage.

Looking at the three games so far, Spain was by far the easiest game they had mainly down to the fact that the Iberians resorted to the usual tiki-taka style that has become their trademark for the last three tournament successes. Looking at the goals the Chileans conceded shows two flaws in the side’s back-line:

1)    They don’t deal with balls in the air very comfortably, as is illustrated by the goals scored by Leroy Fer and Tim Cahill.

2)    The defence is often too far up and this will lead to goals, like the Memphis Depay winner for Holland, or even disciplinary problems from players trying to stop an attack succeeding.

Brazil, meanwhile, have certain problems of their own and chief among them is the ridiculously high expectations of the home fans.

Anyone that has watched A Seleção won’t have missed the amount of emotion present within the ranks and a snippet from the national anthem illustrates this perfectly. Looming even larger than this is the fact Brazilians love to boo everything…even their own team. This was present during the pre-tournament friendlies and you can imagine come the 60 minute mark in Saturday’s game that if the team isn’t performing to the correct standard, the boos will get started and who knows what effect this will have on the team in the tournament proper.

The hosts’ defence, which has looked shaky at times in a poor group, shouldn’t be too much of a problem against Chile given the fact what is at the other end should see the team through. Later on in the tournament is when that can and perhaps will get unstuck.

Betting Instinct tip – Brazil v Chile to see over 3.5 goals is +190 with AllYouBet.ag

Another side with a defence that is entirely questionable is a Dutch team that has won the right to face Group A runner-up Mexico and its excitable manager Miguel Herrera.

Holland are the team that no-one gave a chance in Group B. Louis van Gaal’s side was supposed to succumb to the mercurial talents of both Spain and Chile before departing in a rage. That was before they smashed that plan to pieces by battering Spain and became the first side to finish the group stage on the maximum nine points.

Dutch fans should be worried about facing an unfancied Mexican side that failed to light up qualifying but has really found its feet under Herrera in the World Cup. The kind of speed and quickness on the break that has been exhibited by the central American side is something that will trouble the Dutch defence in the same way that Arjen Robben will do at the other end.

You feel that this one could well come down to the team that scores the most goals or the goalkeeper performs best, which at the moment hints at Mexico possibly stealing a path to the next round.

Betting Instinct tip – Mexico to qualify for the FIFA World Cup Quarter Final is 2.60 with Intertops.eu

 

 JAMIE HINKSb134431a32f9f238467cd75e1b0b3454 (jamiehinks) is an experienced content writer who has focused on the gambling industry   and technology, and has an obsession with football and all US sports. You can follow him  on Twitter here and  on Google+ here.

USA should have enough to make World Cup second round

The USA needs a point to guarantee back-to-back appearances in the knockout stages

The USA needs a point against Germany to guarantee back-to-back appearances in the World Cup knockout stages

We may not always be listening, but North Korea is talking, and the word from Pyongyang is “this World Cup is great stuff, guys!” And while that’s more the gist of what they’re saying rather than anyone’s actual words, it seems to sum up the mood of a nation consumed by World Cup fever pretty well. Local football nut Ryang Min Ho, a section chief of the Pyongyang Vegetable Science Institute and man for some reason quoted by the state broadcaster, the Korean Central News Agency, as a source for this story, said, “I am closely following the result of every match.”

 

Meanwhile, experts have taken a pretty dim view of the Spanish efforts at the tournament. “Even a strong team may have a bitter experience of defeat,” Yu Myong Uk, an official of the DPRK Football Association, told the KCNA, “It seems to me that Spanish “tiki-taka” is going bankrupt.”

Of all the predictions I’m about to make, I’m most sure of this one: we won’t see the North Koreans playing tiki-taka at the World Cup anytime soon. I found the North Korean update wedged between one story headlined “New Kinds of Paint Developed in DPRK” and another about a “New Species of Seedless Sweet Grape,” but I digress. The point is that the World Cup isn’t just about countries that still have a shot of winning it, and with that in mind we move onto the last few games of the group stage.

 

World Cup Group E Qualification odds:

France first and Switzerland second -333

France first and Ecuador second +200

France first and Honduras second +6600

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

In Group E, Switzerland will probably beat Honduras to leave Ecuador needing a win against France to progress to the round of sixteen. It’s hard to gauge just how deep France can go in the competition – their goal difference just about ensures them of their spot in the first knockout round, but Switzerland and Honduras hardly represent the same challenges as Germany and the Netherlands have faced, and hell, it’s France, the same guys who made the final in 2006, then really, really didn’t in 2010. Weirdly, this time they seem to have their act together.

The French should win their group, motivated by the likelihood of a game against Nigeria or Iran in the next round. Argentina are first in Group F, and will play Nigeria for top spot while Iran will hope to beat an already eliminated Bosnia-Herzegovina and have the South Americans knock the Africans out for them. The maths is hard, so don’t worry about it – Messi should take care of Nigeria by himself ahead of the serious part of the tournament, and Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina seems like the kind of game that’ll be a draw because Asian teams don’t look capable of a win in Brazil.

 

Group G is a little bit more difficult to call. I tried a sentence-long paragraph that read, “It’s the World Cup, baby, anything can happen,” but I couldn’t be sure that my editor wanted me to be so concise (good decision – ed.). Germany stalled against Ghana but only need to avoid defeat against the English language’s last hope, the United States, to finish top of a bruising group . It’s easy to say that Germany will win purely because they’re better than the US, so let’s go with that – the Americans looked drained by their draw against Portugal, and they’re not as good at football as their opponents can be. Portugal, meanwhile, need a five goal swing and Sepp Blatter’s blessing to overtake Jurgen Klinsmann’s men in second place, while Germany and the US can decide to draw to take them both through and we won’t even need to watch Portugal’s win over Ghana. The Germans and the Portuguese should win, but the US are favourites to progress – it’s the World Cup, baby, anything can happen!

Betting Instinct tip – The Germany-Portugal double is 3.83 with Intertops.eu

 

I’ve just remembered that Group H is also going on. Russia have been underwhelming at best and need to win against Algeria for the opportunity to play tired football against whoever makes it out of Group G, while South Korea should ensure Belgium run out unbeaten by letting things happen as they usually do and losing what will almost certainly be their last match in Brazil. Belgium have two fairly unconvincing wins so far and would take a third, but the darkest horse in this World Cup’s midnight stable will still want to show that they’re capable of living up to everyone’s expectations by winning every game from here to the final by at least five goals to nil.

 

The group stage of the 2014 World Cup is almost over, but they’re throwing us Wimbledon now and the cycling in a week to ease us into the comedown. Enjoy the last of half of the field as you will – I’ll go with the North Koreans on this one, calling up my local newspaper to “express my feelings or propose creative opinions on developing the football of the nation.” Exciting times ahead.

 

Unfamiliar with American or decimal odds? Check out our handy conversion guide.

 

Max avatar MAX GRIEVE (maxjgri) is Australian, but keep reading. He likes football, rugby union and tennis, though  has  given up on his dream of being a tri-sport athlete/exciting millionaire. He supports Liverpool, and is    ashamed for doing so. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.

Mexico or Croatia to join Brazil in the last 16?

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Seven days into the World Cup and Group A is rather finely poised after two games. Mexico proved to be the battling opponents that everyone expected them to be and that has left Brazil needing a win in their final game to top the group.

That victory will come. There had been some suggestion that with Group B playing their final round of games a couple of hours before Brazil kick-off against Cameroon, the home team may be able to “choose” their opponents in the second round. The winners of the Chile versus Netherlands clash will top the group also featuring the 2010 World Cup winners, Spain. However, such a ploy from Brazil offers too much risk. Were they to lose against Samuel Eto’o’s Lions – an unlikely prospect given their lacklustre showings so far – then a draw in Group A’s other match would dump the Seleção out of the competition. That doesn’t bear thinking about.

That also gives Cameroon credit that they don’t deserve. Wednesday night’s 0-4 drubbing at the hands of Croatia means that The Indomitable Lions have now lost their last six World Cup matches in a row. You have to go back to El Salvador’s run in 1982 for the last time a team had such a poor run; and there has been little to suggest that they can turn it around for their final group game.

Before the Cameroon squad arrived in Brazil they were complaining about the bonuses they were due from their Football Association. The players just haven’t looked motivated to chase either of the games so far, and it’s unlikely to be any different against a Brazilian side with their eyes on an important victory. If Brazil don’t win to nil, it’ll be incredibly surprising. If Neymar or Fred find a way to break the deadlock in the opening 10-15 minutes, they could run up a cricket score.

Betting Instinct tip Brazil to win by three or more goals is 1.88 with Intertops.eu

 

The real action on Monday evening will be in the game that decides who will join Brazil in the knock-out stages of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Mexico and Croatia will be staring across from the team they need to overcome to set-up a clash with either Chile or the Netherlands; but they will both be wary that events that have already occurred in the competition won’t be repeated.

Guillermo Ochoa won’t repeat his performance against Brazil. The 28 year-old was the star of the Mexican resistance as he repelled a string of Brazilian efforts and held on to an unlikely clean sheet. However, Ochoa is know as a hit-and-miss ‘keeper. He would be playing at a level above AC Ajaccio in Ligue 1 if he were able to produce such displays on anything close to a regular basis. Unfortunately for Mexico, that’ll mean they can’t rely on Ochoa to dig them out of a hole.

For Croatia, it means that they are unlikely to concede a penalty as soft as the one given for Brazil in the opening match of the tournament. The European side were more than competitive against the tournament hosts until Fred was controversially felled in the area and Neymar stroked them into the lead. They could have replicated Mexico’s result against Luis Felipe Scolari’s team and can feel hard done by to be the side entering the final game with a point to make up.

 

Croatia need to win. Their 4-0 victory over Cameroon will be proof enough for their players that the Lions aren’t going to upset Brazil. A draw – taking them to four points for the group – won’t be enough. They’ll need to be positive from off and they’ll need to score goals. Ivan Perišić has transitioned wonderfully from a bit-part player in Borussia Dortmund’s squad to a stand-out in Wolfsburg’s midfield. He’s been excellent for Croatia so far, creating a string of chances and putting an opportunity on a plate for Ivica Olic to finish.

Of course with Niko Kovač’s men forced to be positive, things will play into the hands of Mexico and the pace they possess in attack. Javier Hernandez will probably still be held in reserve with Oribe Peralta once again partnering Giovani dos Santos, although there is a temptation to unleash the Manchester United forward’s speed from the start of the game. If Mexico can catch Croatia as the European side commit bodies forward, they can pick them off and secure a spot in the last 16 for the sixth successive World Cup.

It’d be a bold man that tried to pick a winner. The strength of the Croatian side and the fine seasons that they all enjoyed probably means that Mario Mandžukić and company are just about favourites to win. It’ll be easier to just go into it expecting goals. Based on the exploits of the 2014 World Cup so far, at least two each isn’t a ridiculous thing to look for.

Betting Instinct tip More than 3.5 goals in Mexico v Croatia is 3.75 with AllYouBet.ag

 

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Ryan avatarRYAN KEANEY (ryankeaney) is a huge sports fan who spends most of his week toying around with sports data. He is the editor of www.thefootballproject.net and a co-editor for In Bed with Maradona. Follow Ryan on Twitter or Google+.

Brazil v Mexico – Will the hosts’ luck continue in their second game?

Many felt that Brazil had luck on their side against Croatia to win that first game, but will it continue against the Mexicans?

Many felt that Brazil had luck on their side against Croatia to win that first game, but will it continue against the Mexicans?

The first match from the second round of games at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil sees the clash of the two sides sitting first and second in Group A as Brazil and Mexico meet at Estádio Castelão in Fortaleza. Both of these sides took all three points in their first matches as Brazil claimed a 3-1 victory against Croatia and Mexico defeated Cameroon 1-0, but it was not the final results in these games that were the main talking points – it was the performances of the officials.

Brazil were deemed to have been on the lucky side of several calls from the Japanese official Yuichi Nishimura while Mexico had two perfectly legal goals ruled out in their match against Cameroon that saw them need more than an hour to score the one and only goal in that match. Brazil will be hoping for a continuation of decisions being on their side, while Mexican will be hoping for a full 180 degree turnaround in this game, but who will open a three point gap at the top of Group A at the full time whistle?

Brazil v Mexico Betting Odds:

Brazil to beat Mexico – 1.30

Both sides to share the points – 5.25

Mexico to beat Brazil – 10.00

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

After two goals from Neymar and a late third from Chelsea’s Oscar, Brazil lead Group A at the second ever World Cup tournament they are hosting after 1950, but they can feel lucky that Barcelona’s Neymar was still on the pitch to score both of those goals. He elbowed Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modrić and received only a yellow card when it looked as if he should have walked. The biggest piece of luck they received from the referee on the opening night was for their second goal as Fred went down easily in the box before Neymar scored his second from the spot. They also had a goal chalked off against them from an apparent foul on Julio Cesar in goal that would have seen Croatia level at 2-2 in an impressive performance from the Europeans. Brazil were certainly the second best side in that match and Luis Felipe Scolari will have his work cut out to improve his team to the level to is expected from the Brazilian fans for this game against Mexico.

 

Mexico were on the end of some controversial refereeing decisions in their opening Group A game too as they had two goals ruled out for offside against Cameroon when both goals were legitimately netted by former Tottenham Hotspur man Giovanni dos Santos. These ‘goals’ early on showed how up for the match Mexico were and they dominated the Africans, but it did take 61 minutes for them to break the official imposed deadlock and take all three points. Unlike Brazil, Miguel Herrera’s men will be hoping for a change in their luck with the men in charge in Fortaleza as despite Brazil making an underwhelming debut on home soil this summer more goals ruled out without cause will make it very difficult for Mexico to take the points in this game.

Brazil have the better record between these two sides in recent times as they have won three of the last four meetings of the sides, including securing a 2-0 win at the Confederations Cup last summer. However, having seen both of these teams in action at the 2014 World Cup it is the Mexicans who look to be the more confident and fluid going forwards as Brazil struggled all over the pitch against Croatia. Despite this, Brazil could not play any worse than they did in their opener and they are sure to improve in this match but will they be able to improve to the level that they can beat Mexico without assistance from the officials, who will have the eyes of the world turned on them?

 

Brazil have the quality to win this match, but following last week’s performance I do not feel that they are as good as the match odds suggest and Mexico are certainly going to be a challenge to the hosts. As a result of this, I can see this being an open and exciting match that sees goals coming easily and readily and my money for this opening match of the second round of group games is on both Brazil and Mexico to find the net at the Estádio Castelão.

Betting Instinct tip – back both Brazil and Mexico to score in their Group A match at the 2014 World Cup @ 1.90 with AllYouBet.ag.

 

AntoPic

 ANTONY JORDAN has more than ten years experience in the online gaming industry and writes sports  betting content for several online gaming sites and companies. Read his work on Facebook, Twitter and  Google+.