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+.

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World Cup Opener Should be Easy Win for Brazil but Can the Home Team Go All the Way?!

Can the World Cup home team handle the pressure to go all the way?

Can the World Cup home team handle the pressure to go all the way?

Brazil has won five World Cup titles, more than any other country. They’ll also enjoy home-advantage this time around. So the heat is really on Brazil to win the 2014 tourney.

World Cup bookmakers seem confident the home team (-303) will beat Croatia (+900) in the World Cup opening match tomorrow, but they aren’t so sure the Selecao can live up to the enormous pressure to win the title.

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World Cup Betting Odds – Opening Match June 12th
Brazil -303
Croatia +900

Odds provided by Intertops Sportsbook, subject to change.
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“Brazil does, of course, have a good chance of going all the way,” observed one bookmaker, “But their South American rivals, Argentina, will also be a big threat, especially if superstar Lionel Messi can find his top form again after his rather disappointing end to the season. Who knows – but I somehow doubt the Cup will be coming back to Europe this year!”

No European team has won the title in South America and several top European players are struggling with injuries that could seriously affect their country’s chances, including reigning World Footballer of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) and Spain’s prolific goalscorer Diego Costa. Another title hopeful France has already lost the services of Bayern Munich star Franck Ribery with a back injury.

“One European team we’ll really be watching is Belgium,” he said. “They haven’t made a splash in big tournaments since the 1980 European Championships, but have a highly talented team full of players who star for top clubs across Europe. Much is expected of them!”

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World Cup $200 Free Bet
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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.

Knack of the Bet: Cristiano Ronaldo going for gold in Brazil

Can Lionel Messi transfer his club form to the World Cup stage?

Can Lionel Messi transfer his club form to the World Cup stage?

In a new satirical section, Back of the Net’s John Foster takes a sideways look at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil. While the odds are very real, he may have taken some artistic licence elsewhere.

With the 2014 World Cup just days away, it’s time to take a close look at the candidates to be the tournament’s top scorer. In just over a month, a new hero will be leaving Brazil with the coveted Golden Boot, assuming 2010 winner Thomas Müller remembers to bring it with him.

 

Lionel Messi (8.00 with Intertops.eu to end the tournament as top scorer)

Leo Messi has scored just twenty-one goals in his past twenty-three international appearances, leading many to wonder if he will ever be effective for Argentina. The 26-year old is yet to score at a World Cup, having been underused in 2006 by José Pekerman and mistrusted in 2010 by Diego Maradona, who thought Messi was a mystical forest spirit only he could see. Most pundits agree that the Barcelona star cannot truly be considered El Diego’s heir until he shoots a journalist with an air rifle.

Neymar (11.00 with AllYouBet.ag)

Brazil’s golden boy will be carrying the hopes of a nation on his shoulders, despite Hulk’s objections that Hulk’s shoulders would be far better suited to the task. Neymar hasn’t quite set the world alight at Barcelona, having got as far as Xavi’s jacket and Cesc Fabregas’ pants before being told to stop it, and much will depend on whether he can respond to being called ‘the New Pelé’ in the same way that Pelé did in 1958 after being dubbed ‘the Old Neymar’.

Cristiano Ronaldo (15.00 with Intertops.eu)

The Portugal captain will be desperate to display the World Cup Golden Boot next to his Premier League Golden Boot, his Ballon d’Or, his other Ballon d’Or, his three UEFA Golden Shoes, his golden tamarind monkey, and the bust of his own head made from solid gold. It was widely reported last week that Ronaldo had been cursed by a Ghanaian witch doctor, who told him that he would achieve great fame and wealth but never get past the twelfth-level boss in Assassin’s Creed IV.

Fernando Torres (34.00 with AllYouBet.ag)

The Chelsea frontman is having a miserable 2014, following a poor 2013, a bad 2012, and an unsuccessful two-year period before that. He has been included in the Spain squad thanks to his tendency to be top scorer at international tournaments, a record that stretches back nearly two tournaments. Vicente Del Bosque’s side is likely to line up without a recognized striker, a role that Torres has made his own.

Wayne Rooney (41.00 with Intertops.eu)

England’s main offensive weapon has struggled for goals recently, though he continues to be offensive and is clearly a bit of a weapon. The Manchester United man has a tendency to get overheated in big matches, and when playing for England, and in the heat, so expect strike partner Danny Welbeck to take to the field carrying buckets of ice-cold water. Rooney may also be hampered by a massive luxury hamper featuring a selection of cured meats and rich, creamy cheeses, a pre-tournament gift from the Uruguayan FA.

Josip Drmic (3.75 with AllYouBet.ag to finish as Switzerland’s top scorer)

Swiss striker Drmic became a household name at Nürnberg this season despite a crippling lack of vowels. The 21-year old owes his success to a relentless work rate and a lethal instinct for goal, and also to his faithful companion Khyrax, a giant eagle who carries off defenders with her vicious eight-inch talons and consumes them on the stadium roof. Khyrax picked up a beak injury in Switzerland’s friendly with Peru, and Ottmar Hitzfeld will be praying she recovers in time to terrorize the Ecuadorian back four.

Not used to decimal betting odds? Check out Betting Instinct’s brand new odds calculation guide.

 

John_F avatar JOHN FOSTER is a freelance football writer and one part of the Back of the Net team. He has  written for FourFourTwo and The Daily Mash. Follow Back of the Net on FacebookTwitter or  Google+.