Odds correct at time of writing. For latest Betfair prices, see therepublikofmancunia.com/bet.
In our second World Cup preview, Betfair examine groups C and D…
England are 7.6 (13/2) third favourites to win the World Cup this summer, but the highs of a perfect qualification campaign have been replaced by injury worries for manager Fabio Capello.
Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Ledley King and Gareth Barry all have question marks hanging over them, while none of the goalkeeping options inspire total confidence. Rooney is probably England’s most important player and if he’s fit they could go all the way.
England can be backed at 1.38 (4/11) to top Group C and we fancy their chances of winning their first three games. It won’t be easy, though, and USA – 1.77 (4/5) to qualify for the last 16 – will provide a tough opening fixture. Their impressive run to the finals of the Confederations Cup last summer has led some to tip them as potential dark horses. They can be backed at 90.0 (89/1) to go all the way.
Slovenia – 3.15 (11/5) to qualify from the group – are one of the tournament’s minnows but they experienced the finest moment of their football history when they beat Russia in a play-off to reach South Africa. They lack stars – West Brom’s Robert Koren has the biggest profile – but if they pull together they might surprise a few people.
Algeria also reached the finals in spectacular fashion, knocking out fierce rivals Egypt. At 4.7 (7/2) to reach the last 16, that win might be as good as it gets. Anything other than three defeats in South Africa will be a good result.
Nemanja Vidic’s Serbia – 4.4 (7/2) and second favourites to win Group D – were outstanding in qualifying but can they carry their form into the main event? In qualifying for 2006, Vida was part of the Fab Four defence that conceded only one goal before letting in 10 in three group games in Germany. This time they know what to expect and should be backed to reach the second round. Zoran Tosic has made considerably more starts for Serbia than for United so Reds fans will hope to catch a glimpse of the winger in action for his country.
Germany are big favourites to top the group at 2.02 (20/21). They exceeded expectations as hosts four years ago but odds of 16.0 (15/1) to go all the way suggest punters aren’t expecting Jogi Low’s side to get beyond the quarter-finals this time. Acrimony within the squad and the absence of injured captain Michael Ballack makes those odds on Serbia winning the group more appealing.
It’s a surprise to see Ghana at 2.24 (5/4) to qualify for the second round. The Black Stars lost to both Gabon and Libya in qualifying and their negative tactics at the recent African Cup of Nations suggest they will need to be very disciplined if they are to progress here.
We much prefer the chances of Australia at 3.35 (12/5). The Socceroos were one of the most entertaining sides in 2006 and this time a clutch of Premier League stars, such as Tim Cahill, Brett Emerton and Mark Schwarzer, could help them spring a few surprises.