The countdown to the 2014 World Cup has begun, and with the draw completed we have all the information we need to provide World Cup predictions place your bets on the tournament.
There are some great betting opportunities on offer in the tournament winner and top goalscorer betting markets, and we look at some past trends in these markets to help you narrow down your selections for the 2014 World Cup.
Every team that travels to the World Cup does it with the belief that they can win the tournament. But while it is not unusual for the minnows of world football to upset more fancied teams at the tournament, these countries have not – to date – been able to string together the series of victories required to lift the cup.
In fact, of the 76 teams that have competed at the World Cup to date, only eight have managed to win the tournament, and only twelve have reached the tournament final. In addition five of these winners account for more than 80% of all the World Cup titles won to date.
With this in mind you can easily narrow down the likely winners of the World Cup by focusing on the teams that have already lifted the cup.
The list of former winners includes:
In addition to the eight previous winners, there are four other sides that have a realistic chance of making the final. These include:
These four teams are either currently ranked in the top ten by FIFA, were outstanding during qualifying or field a large number of world class players. Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands have all reached the semifinals on previous occasions, while Colombia are fielding their golden generation and are currently ranked 4th in the world by FIFA.
Of the twelve countries listed above bookies currently consider Brazil, Argentina and Germany to be the favourites to win the tournament.
Brazil appears to be the strongest candidate in this list. While they were not required to participate in the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying tournament, they showed what they were capable of in the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil. In that tournament they went unbeaten in five matches before hammering incumbent World Cup champions, Spain, 3-0 in the final.
The Brazilians field a brilliant strike contingent, which includes players of the caliber of Neymar, Hulk, Jo and Robinho. This lethal attack is served by a strong attacking midfield featuring Oscar, Paulinho and Hernanes, and these players are in turn backed by a resolute defence that conceded just three goals at the Confederations Cup.
Second World Cup predictions favourites, Argentina, can match Brazil in the strike department, with the likes of Sergio Aguero, Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain to call on. However, the Argentinean midfield does not quite match the caliber of the Brazilian midfield, and the defence – while sound – has more give to it than that of Brazil’s.
The European side that appears most likely to lay down a serious challenge to the Latin American sides is Germany.
The side is packed with the players who have helped German clubs dominate European football in recent seasons, including four of the most lethal attacking midfielders in the game in the form of Ozil, Andre Schurrle, Thomas Muller and Marco Reus. These players will distribute the ball to the experienced and capable strike partnership of Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez.
Thinning out the field
While Brazil, Argentina and Germany are deserved favourites, it would be a mistake to dismiss the prospects of the other contenders out of hand. None of the five remaining previous World Cup winners can be ruled out as each has an established track record at the tournament, world class players and the proven ability to win close matches during the knockout stages.
In order to narrow down this field and ensure that we’re not simply following cues from the betting markets, we can consider the history of World Cups that were hosted in Latin America, to determine whether local conditions and support levels have influenced team performances in the past and will favour particular teams in 2014.
The World Cup has been played in Latin America (including Mexico) on six occasions. Every one of these tournaments has been won by a Latin American team, with Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina each taking two wins. In addition Latin American teams made up both finalists in three of the six of the World Cup finals played on the continent.
With this in mind, the prospects for all Latin American teams appear to be better than their African, Asian and European rivals. This further strengthens the cause of Brazil and Argentina in particular, as these two teams field classier squads than their Latin American counterparts, and will enjoy strong ‘home’ support.
Who will win it?
Considering all the factors above the most likely finalists for the World Cup are Argentina and Brazil, while Germany are the most likely European semifinal contenders, and any one of the remaining nine contenders are capable of reaching the semis.
With this in mind our World Cup 2014 Predictions in terms of the tournament winner are to back Brazil as outright winners, and include each-way bets on Germany and Argentina to profit if these teams finish the tournament as losing finalists.
Investigating past trends holds the key to making educated 2014 World Cup predictions for the top goalscorer for the World Cup.
The first trend worth noting is that every top goalscorer in the last five tournaments has been part of a team that played the maximum number of seven games at the tournament. All the teams who reach the semis will play the full number of matches at the tournament (including the final and 3rd place playoff), and we can therefore expect the Golden Boot winner to emerge from the twelve most likely World Cup final contenders we identified earlier.
Another factor to take into account is the overall defensive strength of the group your player will be competing in during the group stages.
During this stage of the tournament more goals will be on offer than in the knockout stages. This, combined with the inevitable mismatches between giants and minnows, means that a single match against a weak defensive side can be very high scoring, giving top players the opportunity to score multiple goals and significantly boost their chances of winning the Golden Boot.
The list below features the twelve teams we have identified as most likely to reach the World Cup final. We have calculated the average number of goals conceded per match by their World Cup group opponents during qualifying. This gives a clear overall picture of the quality of the defences they’ll be up against during the group stage.
- England – 1.01
- Spain – 0.97
- Netherlands – 0.93
- Portugal – 0.87
- France – 0.85
- Germany – 0.85
- Italy – 0.85
- Brazil – 0.75
- Belgium – 0.72
- Uruguay – 0.68
- Colombia – 0.65
- Argentina – 0.58
From this list we can immediately see that Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia and Belgium are in for an uphill battle when it comes to scoring goals.
England have been handed the most favourable draw, followed by Spain, the Netherlands and Portugal. All four of these teams are more than capable of reaching the semis, and with the exception of Spain are heavily reliant on a primary striker – who won’t have to compete with other world class strikers for a share of the goals.
The contenders for top goalscorer based on this assessment would therefore be:
- England – Wayne Rooney
- Portugal – Cristiano Ronaldo
- Netherlands – Robin van Persie
You may ask whether or not to include players from Argentina and Brazil at this point. Both teams have players priced among the favourites in the top goalscorer betting markets, with Lionel Messi, Neymar and Sergio Aguero all priced in the top four.
While the talent of these players is undisputed, both teams are so packed with attacking players that it is hard to imagine any one player monopolizing the goalscoring. Furthermore, Argentina have been drawn against the toughest defences in the tournament, while Brazil won’t have it easy in a group where their opponents conceded just 0.75 goals a game on average during qualifying.
Who to back?
Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney both offer top value in the betting markets, with both priced over 25/1, while you can get Cristiano Ronaldo at prices over 12/1. We recommended placing level each-way bets on each of these players in the top goalscorer market – this will pay out an overall profit if even one of these players finishes amongst the top four scorers at the 2014 World Cup.
If you’re looking for further FIFA World Cup 2014 predictions you can visit our match betting tips for all of the individual matches at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.