As the hosts and five-time winners of the World Cup it’s fair to say there is a degree of pressure on Brazil to live up to expectations and lift the trophy this summer.
And after impressing in last year’s Confederations Cup warm-up, where Luis Felipe Scolari’s team swept aside Spain in the final, the Selecao are looking a good pick to win it, with Ladbrokes offering odds of 10/3 on Brazil lifting the World Cup.
But for all the fanfare and focus currently fixed on the Samba Boys, the reality is that fellow South Americans and archrivals Argentina may in fact be better placed for glory at this summer’s finals.
La Albiceleste are on at 9/2 to win the World Cup in 2014, a price that looks particularly handsome when you consider the array of talent at manager Alejandro Sabella’s disposal.
Lionel Messi aside, the squad boasts some of the finest players currently plying their trade in Europe’s top leagues, from Ezequiel Garay and Pablo Zabaleta in defence, through to midfield stars like Angel Di Maria and Ever Banega and strikers Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.
Argentina head into the tournament in great form, having cruised through qualification, losing just two of the 16 fixtures they played during the gruelling South American group stage – with the latter of these defeats coming in a dead rubber against Uruguay.
Playing the finals in their home continent should stand them in good stead, while with much of the focus remaining on Brazil, Argentina could relish their role as relative underdogs, with all the expectation fixed on the Selecao.
In truth, Brazil’s status as hosts may ultimately prove a hindrance, with Luis Felipe Scolari’s side playing few competitive games over the past four years.
And their South American rivals certainly look good to top a group containing newcomers Bosnia alongside a young Nigeria side and Iran, with Ladbrokes pricing the South American side at 1/6 to win Group F.
From there, they will likely face the runners-up of a group containing France, Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras, meaning a quarter-final berth looks the bare minimum, something that can be backed at 11/4.
The statistics certainly appear to favour an Argentina victory over a Brazil one. In the 19 finals played to date, the hosts have claimed the title on just six occasions, while 13 of these previous winners have claimed the title in finals played on their continent.
With all eyes on the Samba Boys this summer, it may pay to keep in with the neighbours.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date
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