We’re still seven months away from kicking off the World Cup in Brazil, but last week was the World Cup draw, the most important part of this whole process. Join us today at Bang the Book as we take a look at which teams have the best and the worst draws and which have the most and least value as we head towards the biggest sporting event on the planet in 2014.
Below are the World Cup odds for all 32 teams in this tournament, courtesy of BetFair Sportsbook.
2014 World Cup Odds
Ivory Coast +15000
South Korea +20000
Costa Rica +100000
The favorites are the hosts, who were given a tremendous group stage to try to get out of. There is no doubt that Brazil is going to win its group, consisting of Cameroon, Croatia, and Mexico. The concern that we have is what’s going to happen in the second round of the tournament. We know that Brazil is going to have to play either Spain or the Netherlands in the Round of 16, and beyond that, either Columbia, Italy, or Uruguay in all likelihood will be waiting. That’s a heck of a trip for a Brazil team which really hasn’t been tested by all that many teams, and this +330 price, though good, probably isn’t the best on the board.
Remember though, that the best of the bunch in Group B is going to dodge the Brazilians until the finale, and that’s why Spain at +650 remains a good bet. La Roja won’t stay dominating forever, but with a pair of Euro Cups and a World Cup to their credit, they will have every opportunity in the world to get past the Dutch in the first round. That sets up a cakewalk into the semifinals as we see it, as there is no one from Group C or Group D which would scare us against Spain. In fact, save for a prospective finale against the hosts, we don’t see a game where the Spanish will be underdogs by any stretch of the imagination, and in most of those games, they will be odds on favorites.
Many homers here in the United States will think that getting the US at +8000 is a good bet. Just because the Stars and Stripes rolled through CONCACAF doesn’t mean they have the ability to succeed in the World Cup. We still don’t totally trust Manager Jurgen Klinsmann yet, and the fact of the matter is that a group with Germany and Portugal, not to mention a Ghanaian team which knocked the US out of the World Cup in the Round of 16 four years ago, is simply death. If the Americans get out of the group stage by chance, they’ll likely face a Belgian team which came onto American soil and won a friendly just last summer. Keep in mind that no team has to travel more miles here in Brazil than do the Americans, who will log nearly 10,000 travel miles in two and a half weeks just to get through the group stage.
In fact, we actually like the Belgians as dark horses in this tournament. They are in Group H, which could provide modest challenges from Russia, South Korea, and Algeria, but in all likelihood, they’ll advance as the group winners. That would setup a clash against one of these powerhouses from Group G in the Round of 16, which could see Belgium and its talented side into the quarterfinals.
Here’s the team that we really like, though. Argentina really has a favorable draw on all accounts, and we really see no reason why it won’t be setup to take on Spain in an epic semifinal if all goes according to plan. The Argentines have had some troubles here in the World Cup in the past, but with Lionel Messi leading this way, this could be a lot different this time around. They have a group featuring Iran, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Nigeria, none of which should even manage a point. From there, it’s off to play either France or Switzerland in all likelihood, neither of which really poses a serious threat. Then it’s either Belgium or one of the deadly teams from Group G. That could pose some problems in the quarterfinals, but any team which we can pencil in that far in this tournament is a great bet. Argentina is only +500, but it will have a home field advantage in a huge way in South America. Keep in mind that a South American team has won every World Cup played on South American soil in the past, and this might be no exception.
Keep Columbia in mind as well at 20 to 1. Group C is definitively one of the easier groups in this tournament, though Japan at +15000 is one of our long shots to watch to boot. Regardless of whether the Columbians or the Japanese win Group C or not, there is no doubt that Group D is also one of the weaker groups. The difference is that perception suggests England to be one of the better teams in this tournament. We like Uruguay in Group D, but Italy, England, and Costa Rica do nothing to scare us. Columbia, if it avoids Uruguay in the first knockout round, could be a dangerous side, and that prospective quarterfinal tie with Brazil could be the upset of the tournament. We have seen the Columbians have all sorts of success, even here on Brazilian soil in the past, and 2014 might not be an exception.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.