Confident Brazil should be wary of draw’s hidden menace
There may be something of a gloomy air at Football Association HQ in London following a brutal draw that sees England open their World Cup campaign in the Amazon against four-time winners Italy, but the mood in Brazil couldn’t be more buoyant.
A Group A draw alongside Cameroon, Mexico and Croatia appears to have granted the hosts safe passage into the second round. With Croatia (16th) the highest ranked side in their group, fans of Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Selecao are right to be confident ahead of their much-anticipated first home World Cup since 1950.
They’re odds on to win each of their group games, and have come in slightly from their pre-draw odds of 7/2, now at 10/3 to win their sixth title, with the positivity also stemming from the fact that several of the other big contenders are facing particularly tricky group games in comparison.
Along with England (33/1 to win) and Italy (20/1) in Group D are 2010 semi-finalists Uruguay (33/1), while Group G looks just as unforgiving as Jogi Loew’s much-fancied German side (11/2) begin with a tough battle against Cristiano Ronaldo and co. of Portugal (25/1), another team widely-expected to come of age in Brazil. But with the USA and Ghana joining them, there’s no guarantee of flawless progress.
In Group B, World Cup finalists Spain (6/1) and Holland (20/1) will resume their duel from Johannesburg, with Howard Webb no doubt hoping to avoid that clash, while Chile and Australia will surely make life difficult for the third and sixth favourites respectively.
But before the Brazilian fans commit the same mistake they made in 1950 – when Uruguay stunned the country with a Final win at the Maracana – by planning the trophy ceremony before they’ve even kicked a ball, it should be noted that it is likely to be one of Holland and Spain who they will meet in the second round.
Suddenly, an easy group win may not be in Brazil’s favour. Should they top the group as expected, their second round fixture will take place in Belo Horiztone, a south-eastern city with conditions not unfavourable to Europe’s elite.
Not only that, but a potentially undercooked Brazil would be lining up against a side who would be anything but, given the strength of Group B. It’s also worth remembering that it was a sparkling quarter-final performance from the Dutch in 2010 that saw Dunga’s underwhelming Brazilian side knocked out in South Africa.
So while it might not be the World Cup romantic’s choice, odds of 5/2 for Brazil to crush a nation’s dream and crash out in second round could well be the sort of cheeky early bet that rewards a bold punter.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.