While the world’s attention may be on Brazil and Spain, the World Cup 2014 could be all about the underdogs.
This time around, it’s not just the quality of your opposition that you’ve got to look out for, but the weather too, with El Nino expected to leave European players fighting for breath in extreme heat and humidity. So what does that mean when it comes to betting on World Cup 2014?
Well, here we’ve picked 4 of our favorite underdogs for World Cup 2014, and to no surprise, most of them are from South America! So, without further ado…
Being drawn in a group with World Champions Spain and runners up the Netherlands must be pretty daunting, but this Chile team has that special ingredient that could make it something of a dark horse this tournament.
No team from outside of South America has won a World Cup in the Americas
• Only three teams have won World Cups outside their continent
• Brazil won in Sweden in 1958, Mexico in 1970, the USA in 1994 and Japan and South Korea in 2002
• Argentina won in Mexico in 1986
• Spain won in South Africa in 2010
Recent friendly results have seen very credible draws against Brazil and Spain, as well as a 2-0 win over England and an undeserved loss against Germany.
It’s fair to say, therefore, that this Chile team do have something about them.
The spearhead of the team is definitely Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez. He’s ably backed up by Juventus’ Duracell Bunny, Aturo Vidal in midfield, while additional firepower comes in the form of Valencia’s Eduardo Vargas.
Coached by Jorge Sampoali, the team have retained their speedy attacking mentality that Marcelo Bielsa introduced to such great affect when he was in charge. Indeed, last time round, they got to the last 16 with Bielsa at the head. This time round, his apprentice Sampoali will be looking to go one better.
Even if they do get out of their group, though, they’ll likely face Brazil in the last 16. Perhaps it’s only worth a flutter on them leaving their group. One thing’s for sure: they’ll entertain.
Perennial World Cup qualifiers Switzerland have once again found themselves in somewhat of an “easy” group. At least that’s what it will look like to a European audience. While France can be expected to top the table, Ecuador don’t seem to pose much of a threat. Or do they?
Spearheaded by Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia, the Ecuadorians will be looking to take advantage of the heat and qualify from their group. Valencia is backed up by tricky winger Jefferson Montero, while Frickson Erazo has shown excellent improvement in the middle of their defense.
One player Ecuador will have to do without, however, is Christian Benitez. The former spearhead died last year of heart failure, and his presence will be sorely missed by the team. His place will likely be taken by another player who initially failed to make it in England, Felipe Caiceido.
Perhaps Benitez’s death will galvanize the team to perform for him, but should they get out of their group, a match against Bosnia or Iran seems likely and that is definitely winnable for the South American team. Then they would likely have to face Germany, however.
They’re unlikely to go all the way, but Ecuador are definitely a team to look out for in World Cup 2014.
Perhaps Belgium shouldn’t really be counted as underdogs, but considering this is the first time they’ve qualified for an international tournament since the 2002 World Cup, we thought they belonged.
Sure to be a favorite at online sportsbooks in the UK, this Belgian team contains 12 players who ply their trade in England – if you count goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, on loan at Atletico Madrid from Chelsea.
In a team packed with quality, they have the ability to light up the World Cup, but infighting has bought its own problems in recent years, as well as finding a way to accommodate all their talents.
Just in midfield, manager Marc Wilmots will be looking to include Mousa Dembele, Marouane Fellaini, Axel Witsel, Steven Defour, Kevin De Bruyne, Nacer Chadli and Eden Hazard. Not an easy accomplishment.
It also helps that Belgium have a relatively easy group, with Russia, Algeria and South Korea making up the rest of Group H. If Belgium don’t go far this World Cup, many football fans, especially in England, will be left scratching their heads.
We return to South America again for the last team in our underdog series, Colombia. For them, a lot will depend on the fitness of star striker Radamel Falcao, although not quite as much as the armchair fan may think.
With Falcao fighting back from injury in time to make the World Cup squad, the Colombia team has a pretty settled look to it. Falcao will be played through by the excellent James Rodriguez, while should Falcao succumb to injury, Porto’s Jackson Martinez – who has also had an excellent season – will take his place as the star striker.
If there is one problem with Colombia – and it’s a common one across South American teams – it’s defense. The likely central defense partnership is 38 year old Mario Yepes and 35 year old Luis Perea. Teams will be looking to get in behind all day, therefore, and it’s something coach Pekerman will have to beware of.
They have another relatively easy group, however, with Japan, Ivory Coast and Greece filling out Group C. Should they make it to the last 16, a match against England could be in store, should the 1966 winners get through their group, that is.
All in all, the 2014 World Cup is looking all set to be a huge success, on the pitch at least. With so many teams looking to challenge, it’s anyone’s guess who will triumph in the end. With the heat and humidity players will have to endure, South American teams have to be favorites, although Germany and Spain will also be right up there.
With mobile betting also taking off in recent times, bettors will have more ways to wager than ever before, too, so expect to see some great bets flying around. My money is on Argentina conceding a ton of goals and scoring just a few more.