World Cup Preview

Written by Square in the Air

The views and opinions contained on this page are the author's and are not Sporting Index's. Sporting Index offers services on an 'execution only' basis under FCA regulations and does not provide investment advice.

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil will be a fantastic spectacle. England may be the ‘home of football’ but it’s Brazil that has mastered it. The Samba Boys are looking for a sixth World Cup and with home advantage they are expected to deliver. Sporting Index has Luis Felipe Scolari’s men as favourites on their World Cup Outright 100 Index, trading at 47-50. How will they cope with the pressure on home turf? The last time they hosted the tournament in 1950 they were hot favourites but lost to Uruguay in the final in front of a partisan crowd of 174,000. They were booed in their last warm-up game despite beating Serbia and the weight of expectation as they progress will arguably suffocate the squad. It’s also not a vintage Brazilian side. They were impressive when winning a third successive Confederations Cup last year but Spain, who they beat in the final, looked tired and it would be wrong to read too much into that 3-0 victory. Much of their squad is unproven in European football and their star striker Neymar has endured a frustrating first season at Barcelona.

They should top a group containing Croatia, Cameroon and Mexico, but look likely to face Spain or Chile in the next stage and both could cause serious problems. Realistically, England (16-19) are hoping to make the quarter-finals, but even that will depend on Roy Hodgson’s tactics. Italy look beatable in the opener on Saturday, but I fear a cautious approach will see them playing for a draw. The Three Lions then face Uruguay next and defeat there could leave them needing to score several versus Costa Rica to have any chance of progressing.

No European side has ever won a World Cup in South America and most of their squad, taken largely from Barcelona and Real Madrid, have had long seasons. Finishing second would secure a make-up of 10, while winning the group a hefty 25. Fellow Group B opponents Netherlands head to Brazil after an almost flawless qualifying campaign. Capable of delivering sublime football, they are equally likely to self-implode and conditions are not in their favour. They are flattered by their 35 goals in the weakest European qualifying section and an inexperienced backline will be up against it from the off. Topping Group B would be a major bonus for Chile as they would avoid Brazil next - instead most likely facing either Croatia or Mexico - and would have every chance of making the last four.

They’d play one of these likely opponents in the quarters; Uruguay – who they beat in qualifying – Italy, England or a Colombia side missing their best player Radamel Falcao.

Any team that left out Carlos Tevez from the squad because of riches up front needs respect. Lionel Messi, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Angel di Maria and Sergio Aguero – who needs a defence with that attack? The Argentineans are two-time World Cup winners. Conditions will be perfect for them and they have been given a gift of a group with Bosnia-Hercegovina, Iran and Nigeria. They have, on paper at least, an easier path to the final than Brazil. Sporting Index will be providing a Grade A service on all World Cup games featuring the bigger sides. That means you’ll have around 600 markets to choose from in each match. Even fixtures with smaller nations will have 250 markets and that’s alongside hundreds of long-term markets which will be constantly updated throughout the competition. It’s fair to say they have the World Cup well and truly covered!

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