Odds correct at time of writing. For latest Betfair prices, see therepublikofmancunia.com/bet.

In their first World Cup betting preview, Betfair look at the group-stage prospects for Ji-sung Park, Patrice Evra and Javier Hernandez…

Group A

Patrice Evra’s France may not be the force they once were but they still boast talented players such as Franck Ribery, Yoann Gourcuff and Lassana Diarra. A price of 20.0 (19/1) in the winner market is big for finalists in two of the last three World Cups. Back them to win Group A at 2.12 (11/10).

United fans will get an early opportunity to see Javier Hernandez, aka Chicharito, in action. His native Mexico have qualified for the last 16 in the previous four tournaments and can be backed at 2.06 (21/20) to do it again. Javier Aguirre is a tactically astute coach but odds of 120.00 (119/1) to win the World Cup reflect his country’s consistent failure to reach the quarter-finals.

At 2.94 (2/1) to reach the second round, South Africa are regarded by some as the poorest host-nation team ever but if they can win their first game, against Mexico, that will change. Everton’s Steven Pienaar is integral to their hopes.

Uruguay have won the World Cup twice, albeit both over 50 years ago. In Ajax’s Luis Suarez they have one of the most exciting young players in Europe and United fans need no introduction to his strike partner – Diego Forlan, conqueror of Fulham in the Europa League final and a major La Liga star since leaving the Reds in 2004. He could help his nation reach the last 16 at 2.22 (6/5).

Group B

Ji-sung Park’s Korea Republic face a big battle to get out of Group B. Betfair punters rate them the least likely side of the four to make the second round with Argentina 1.14 (1/7), Nigeria 2.1 (11/10) and Greece 2.56 (8/5) all shorter than Huh Jung-moo’s men to qualify at 3.6 (13/5). In their favour is experience – they’ve been at every World Cup since 1986 and reached the semis in 2002. Odds of 260 (259/1) to win the WC reflect the task for Park and co.

Diego Maradona leads perennial World Cup fancies Argentina, but it could be argued that the presence of this maverick at the helm is a black mark against them. The 9.0 (8/1) tournament fourth favourites are still an extremely short price to get out of the group at 1.14 (1/7). Of the other contenders, Nigeria’s over-expectant public could be in for another disappointment. Greece shocked everyone at Euro 2004 and the current functional side could progress.