Part of the fun of the World Cup is that games endlessly churn out of our televisions at times of the day when we might not have even realised. Even the most avid football fan can be forgiven for drifting away from the action as the days begin to blend into one, particularly when the teams contesting a match are struggling to find a rhythm and it begins to look like the washing up was probably a better idea.
This is the thinking behind this new series of articles for back page tips. The idea is to highlight good accumulator bets covering every three days of the World Cup. This will give you a vested interest in some of the less appealing games, and keep you glued to your television routing for teams you have never previously cared much for.
So here are my selections for the next three days. Select the teams in CAPITALS to win.
BRAZIL v North Korea
The five time world champions should ease past North Korea on Tuesday. There is no easier way of explaining how one sided this game should be than to quote the odds themselves. Brazil are 1/9 for the win, whilst the North Korea side, appearing in their first World Cup since 1966 are priced way out at 22/1. Should they win, we can safely say, it will be the biggest upset in the history of the tournament.
With Brazil trading at such a short price, you might think that it is not worth having a bet at all. However, these are exactly the types of matches you need to include in your accumulators. Without this result selected, the cumulative odds of all your selections winning will drop dramatically.
If you are confident that Brazil will win by quite a few goals, why not replace a simple bet for Brazil to win, with a handicap bet in your accumulator. Brazil are evens to run out with a victory by more than two goals. Again, it does not look like there is much value in this, but once it is selected as part of a larger accumulator, it’s value will increase.
IVORY COAST v Portugal
This one is extremely difficult to call. Ivory Coast are well fancied to finish above Portugal in group G, but it will probably all come down to their head-to-head. It would be easy to leave this one out of an accumulator if you really could not call it, but, by taking a bit of a risk, you can find extra value.
I am more inclined to back the Ivory Coast to win. They have quality all over the pitch and represent Africa’s best hope in the tournament alongside Ghana and, possibly Cameroon. The fact that the tournament is on home turf and the now customary buzz of the Vuvuzelas will help the Ivory Coast’s cause.
Alongside Portugal’s poor form coming into the World Cup, the statistic that sold this result for me is that Christiano Ronaldo has not scored a competitive goal for Portugal since Euro 2008.
SPAIN v Switzerland
Spain are favourites for the competition and I expect them to take care of Switzerland without too many problems. The European champions are a team in their absolute prime and have immense quality throughout their squad. If they can reproduce anything like the form they did during Euro 2008, they will ease past the Swiss and sail to victory in group H.
ARGENTINA v South Korea
This is an interesting one. Both teams won their opening games and played reasonably well, although there is room for improvement in both camps. Argentina looked shaky at the back against Nigeria on Saturday and it would not surprise me if South Korea scored. However, with arguably the most attacking prowess in the competition and a front three who combined to score over 100 goals for their club sides last season, I cannot see Argentina being so wasteful in front of goal against South Korea. Overall I think Argentina will get enough chances to win this one and they will continue to improve as the tournament progresses.
CHILE v Honduras
These are two teams I confess to knowing little about. However, having done a bit of research, I have selected Chile to win for the following reasons. After playing 18 qualifying games, Chile finished the South American group as runners up to Brazil. This is an impressive achievement given they were competing against strong teams including: Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina (albeit that Argentina had a very patchy qualifying campaign).
In contrast, Honduras scraped into the World Cup finals on goal difference ahead of Costa Rica after playing only 10 games in the North, Central American and Caribbean qualifying group campaign against opposition which, in my view are not as strong as those in the top half of Chile’s qualifying group.
MEXICO v France
France looked very poor in their World Cup opener against Uruguay on Friday night and barely had a shot on goal in the nil-nil stalemate. In contrast, Mexico have looked good going forward in recent weeks, most notably against England at Wembley at the back end May.
Although they could only manage a 1-1 draw with South Africa, they showed signs of good attacking flair in what was avery tough, and understandably highly pressured tournament opener against the hosts. Geovanni Dos Santos looked lively, and has both the pace and creativity to cause confusion and a breakdown in communication in what is a very publicly disunited French side.
Overall odds: 30/1