In our previous two World Cup blogs, we have looked at England’s chances of winning the competition compared to their opponents, and your standard markets for the World Cup. This time we’d like to invite you to step outside the box of conformity betting and join us for a look into the slightly less-popular betting markets for the 2014 World Cup!
Bookies everywhere will be offering markets that will tempt, tantalise, and taunt you to make a bet to prove you are the sole haven of worldly footballing knowledge. So that’s why we’re here to guide you through the more interesting markets that we’ve dug up, so you can prove you know your tiki-taka from your Tiki bar.
There are 32 teams competing for the 2014 World Cup. That’s a one in 32 chance of picking the winner. Okay, it’s maybe not quite that long: we can quite probably discount Iran and Algeria, among others. But the point remains.
So how about betting on the winning group? There are eight groups in total, each containing four teams, so in essence with this market the chance to win your bet is increased. Obviously picking a group with a favourite in is a must; picking Group H (which contains South Korea, Russia, Algeria, and Belgium) at 13/1 with Unibet probably won’t see you a return on your money.
However, picking a group with a favourite in, or even two favourites, might just be worth your while. Group A, containing favourites and hosts Brazil, Mexico, Croatia, and Cameroon is a good shout. History smiles on the hosts, and at 3/1 with Betfred, this group is the clear favourite to ‘win’ the World Cup. But even better are three other groups that contain two, and even three, top teams. Group B (Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia) at 9/2 with Bet365, Group D (Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy) at 8/1 with Coral, and Group G (Germany, Portugal, Ghana, and USA) at 6/1 with Betfair all represent very good value for money.
Highest Scoring Group
The important thing to look at when deciding on the top scoring group is not just how good the best teams in the group are; but how bad the worst teams in the group could be. Now, for that reason, Group F represents a very intriguing proposition. While three out of the four teams, Nigeria, Iran, Bosnia, are not what you’d call goal-machines, the fourth team in the group, Argentina, is one that could punish the rest. No other group contains such a disparity of talent, and the thought is that Lionel Messi and co. could run rampant against the two most inexperienced teams in the competition. The other point is that the lack of world class talent could mean a lack of world class defending, meaning we could see a number of goals in the games between Nigeria, Iran, and the Bosnians. Group F is way out at 7/1 with Betfred to be the highest scoring group which looks like a great value tip.
A second tip for this bet would be Group A, a potential melting pot for classic group games. This goes against the bookies’ favourite, Group B which looks like it could turn out to be a potential lukewarm bucket containing some turgid, possession-based 1-0 results. Group A is 6/1 with William Hill to be the highest scoring group of the tournament.
Highest Scoring Team
With so many potentials for highest scoring team, an analytical approach is the best tactic to utilise to optimise your chances of winning with this bet. Bear with us on this one…
(Ability of team ÷ strength of teams in group) x chances of making it to final =
The number you come out with dictates the potential for goalscoring: the higher the number, the more goals the team should score, and vice-versa. Or something like that (equations were never a strong point at school). Nevertheless, the logic makes sense: if the team is good, and the teams in their group are bad, and their chances of making it to the final are high, you could surmise that they will score the most goals in the tournament.
And for that reason we have to plump for Argentina. Brazil’s neighbours are competing in a group that contains minnows Bosnia and Iran, Nigeria. The logical thinking is that they could net a few in those three fixtures. They are also second-favourites to win the cup which means they could get an extra four games in which to score: one of which is almost certain to be a second-round game against Honduras, Ecuador, or Switzerland (assuming France win their group). So, four games against suitably inferior opposition, plus possibly three more games en route to the final. Happily, Argentina are a very tempting 4/1 with BetVictor to finish as the highest scoring team. If that isn’t worth a cheeky tenner, then nothing is.
Lowest Scoring Team
If we applied the ‘equation’ above to determine a favourite for the highest scoring team, the same method can be used to predict the lowest scoring team. While Iran and Bosnia are again very good ideas (at 5/1 and a quite-ridiculous 37/1 respectively with Unibet), using the equation from above it should be quite obvious that the smart money would be on Australia to finish as lowest goalscorers.
Iran and Bosnia may yet play out a 4-4 cracker between themselves, or even stun the Nigerians. But for poor, old Australia (not that we feel much sympathy for the Aussies), they face three world class sides in their group in Spain, the Netherlands, and Chile. It’s little wonder that they are favourites at 7/2 with Unibet to finish as the lowest scoring team.
(Note: For those who wish to feel a little bit more optimistic about England’s chances in Group D, Costa Rica are 4/1 with Unibet to be lowest scorers. Now all we need to worry about is the Italians and Uruguay).
Team with the Most Yellow Cards
Again, a similar idea can be applied for the team to get the most yellow cards as above, but the situation here is more complicated as we cannot take into account the overall quality of the squad, a factor that it is usually simple to determine. Chances of making it to the final are important to note like before, as it means there are more chances for cards to be accumulated.
What would make sense for this bet is looking at how teams play and the general nature of their playing squad. Are they a team who looks to sit deep and rely on the counter-attack, with lots of slight and speedy forwards, like a possible England line-up? If so, they’re probably not a good bet for most yellow cards. Do they press high, but possess a team of nimble, darting mosquitos across the front lines like Brazil? Nearly a winning combination but not quite.
Teams at contrasting ends of the stylistic spectrum look hot favourites for yellow cards. Uruguay defend deep and contain a back six of rugged defenders and midfielders, while Spain combine a relentlessly high-intensity pressing game with formidable and uncompromising men at the back. Both teams are very different, but with the opportunity to go deep into the tournament, either side’s approach could see them rack up the most yellow cards. Uruguay are 12/1 with BetVictor to receive the most bookings, while Spain are 19/1 with Unibet.
There you have it. A few niche markets for you to sink your teeth into. And through a little bit of logic, and a bit of haphazard maths, you could end up being a winner. It's not scientific, but it's about as close as you can get with betting. Happy betting!
Sam publishes regular feature and tips pieces for Howtobet4free. He has a blog, crackingjabulanis.blogspot.co.uk, and can be found on Twitter by following @Gaytski.