The road to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil continues this week and the best bet is Colombia to beat another South American side that is likely to make the finals, Chile.
Second-placed Colombia and third-placed Chile are four and two points respectively clear of fifth-placed Uruguay with most teams in the South American region having two matches to play. The top four sides qualify for the big show and the fifth-placed team goes into the repechage. It would require a meltdown for Colombia of epic proportions not to progress as one of the top four teams, not to mention every possible result in the next week or so going against it.
Colombia has won its last five FIFA World Cup home games in a row, defeating Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay with 13 goals scored and zero goals conceded. Furthermore, Colombia beat Cameroon 3-0 in a home friendly between its victories over Bolivia and Paraguay and it defeated Chile 1-3 on the road 13 months ago. Admittedly, Chile had one fewer player for 50 minutes so the result does come with an asterisk but, nevertheless, a 3-1 away success over a highly talented side is something worthy of respect.
The bookmaker 188bet is offering odds of 1.93 that Colombia qualifies for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil with a win over Chile, whose away record during the qualification tournament reads three wins and four losses. It is telling that Chile’s road defeats have come against Argentina (first position), Ecuador (fourth position), Uruguay (fifth position) and Peru (seventh position). Basically, it has failed its toughest away assignments and, in the case of its matches versus Argentina, Ecuador and Uruguay, emphatically.
Moving north and Honduras is worth a bet at odds of 1.87 with Bwin to go a long way to securing its 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil berth by beating Costa Rica. Honduras beat Costa Rica 1-0 at the recent CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament in the United States of America, Andy Najar scoring the only goal of the quarter-final tie between the regional rivals. Costa Rica has booked its 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil spot and that can only be of benefit to Honduras as it strives to qualify for the main event for the second consecutive tournament.
In Europe, the pick of the available bets is Ukraine at odds of 1.87 with BetVictor to beat Poland and keep the pressure on perennial underachiever England. There are four sides in contention to top Europe’s Group H, with England one point ahead of Montenegro and Ukraine with two rounds remaining and Poland an additional two points off the pace. Ukraine has won seven and drawn two of its last nine games, keeping five consecutive clean sheets since beating Moldova 2-1 at home in March 2013. Part of Ukraine’s impressive unbeaten run was its 3-1 win in Poland, a match that the Ukrainians led from the second minute and had under complete control inside seven minutes. The Kharkiv game is one that Ukraine and Poland must win if they fancy their chances of taking top spot and Group H’s 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil berth so one can expect the Poles not to play for a draw. Poland is undefeated in six matches itself but only one of its recent results – a 3-2 home defeat of Denmark in a friendly – was anything better than fair. Its draws at home to Montenegro and away to Moldova were ordinary and comfortable wins over Liechtenstein and San Marino (twice) mean next to nothing.
Croatia against Belgium is one of the most interesting games on the European program, one in which it is possible to make a case for any of the three possible match results. It is a game that Croatia must win to take Europe’s Group A down to the final round but the home team faces a Belgium side that has strung together six wins and a draw en route to emerging as one of its continent’s strongest teams. The market that appeals in this encounter is one pertaining to both sides scoring, with Ladbrokes dangling odds of 2.15. Croatia has every incentive to go for broke from the opening whistle and Belgium has scored at least one goal in 12 of its last 13 games. Backing both Croatia and Belgium makes more appeal than backing over two and a half goals, albeit at slightly shorter odds. The reverse fixture in Belgium finished 1-1.