Odds correct at time of writing. For latest Betfair prices, see therepulikofmancunia.com/bet.
In our third of four group-stage betting guides, betfair hone in on groups E and F.
Holland are the fourth best team in the world according to FIFA’s rankings but, at 13.5 (12/1), Betfair punters only rate them fifth favourites to triumph in South Africa. Despite consistently producing great teams, the Oranje have only ever won one international tournament. Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben have both had sensational seasons for their clubs and Robin van Persie could star if he stays fit.
Denmark are second favourites to win Group E at 5.5 and 2.0 (evens) to qualify for the last 16. Thomas Sorensen is no Peter Schmeichel and Arsenal’s Nicklas Bendtner is inconsistent up front, but the Danes are well marshaled at the back by Palermo defender Simon Kjaer.
Cameroon will provide considerable competition for second place in the group. Twenty years after veteran Roger Milla led their unforgettable charge into the quarter-finals, the Indomitable Lions’ attack is spearheaded by Samuel Eto’o, one of the world’s greatest finishers. We like the 2.2 (6/5) available on them to make the last 16.
At 4.3 (100/30) to reach the second round, punters are giving short shrift to Japan coach Takeshi Okada’s claims that his side could make the semi-finals. We think the Samurai Blue are more likely to finish bottom of Group E at 1.79 (4/5).
World Champions Italy look generously priced at 16.5 (15/1) in the winner market. They’re considered a shoo-in to win Group F at 1.12 (1/8) but, as the Azzuri tend not to start well, we recommend you avoid that price. Their 2006 triumph was built on defensive nous but the ageing Italian side could be weak at the back.
Paraguay are hoping Manchester City striker Roque Santa Cruz has been saving his best form for the summer. Still, they arrive in South Africa on the back of their most successful qualifying campaign and the market expects them to finish runners-up in Group F at 1.55 (8/15).
Slovakia could upset the odds in this group and at 2.28 (5/4) we’re backing them to reach the last 16. Napoli striker Marek Hamsik will be key and, if Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel can keep things tight in defence, Slovakia may surprise a few people on their World Cup debut.
It will be fascinating to see how fellow debutants New Zealand fare. Can they emulate neighbours Australia and reach the last 16 first time out? At 14.0 (13/1), punters think not.