Playing The Long Ball continues to look at some of the most interesting 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil exotics markets and this week it focuses on the odds available on the top North American/Central American team in the tournament.
Four sides from the CONCACAF region – Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico and the United States of America – have earned the right to 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. According to the odds, Mexico is the odds-on favourite to progress furthest in the competition, with the United States of America rated not far behind in second but a quite considerable gap to Costa Rica and Honduras in third and fourth position respectively.
What is interesting about this 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil exotic market is that the weakness of the CONCACAF region and the draw for the group stage mean that there is a fair chance to none of the four teams will reach the last 16. Therefore, one is keen on backing Honduras at odds of 19.00 with Betway and hoping for a four-way dead heat or better.
Mexico is the favourite because of its reputation, which has taken a battering in recent years, and its presence in 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group A alongside Brazil, Cameroon and Croatia. It is unthinkable that Brazil will not qualify for the knockout stage so, basically, Mexico is in a three-way fight with Cameroon and Croatia for one spot. According to the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, Croatia (16th) should end up second ahead of Mexico (20th) and Cameroon (50th). Also, Mexico really struggled to qualify for the tournament and had it been thrust into one of the European or African groups then it probably would not have made the cut.
The United States of America may be a touch overrated in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking at number 14 but the Stars and Stripes are a pretty handy side and certainly not one to take lightly. The problem for the United States is that its 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil group houses Germany, Ghana and Portugal. Arguably, it is the tournament’s Group of Death since both Germany and Portugal are ranked in the top four and Ghana is no mug at 35th. The United States of America has its work cut out to make the last 16 once again.
Like the United States of America, Costa Rica finds itself in a tough 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil pool. Costa Rica’s three Group D rivals are England, Italy and Uruguay so the Ticos have no easy games and they will be underdogs for all three matches. It would be a big shock if Costa Rica took one of the two last-16 places available from this section.
No-one will expect much of Honduras in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil but, even though it is one of the competition’s lightweights, it is not impossible for it to make the last 16 from a weak-looking pool that includes Ecuador, France and Switzerland. Ecuador’s qualified for the tournament by virtue of its home form and so it is one of the teams that punters will be keen to oppose away from its high-altitude base. France required the European play-offs – and a miracle in them – to reach the finals. And, with all due respect to Switzerland, it was the seed that every unseeded side wanted to draw. Apart from FIFA’s statisticians, no-one believes that Switzerland is one of the world’s best eight teams.
One thinks that the chance of Honduras making the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil knockout stage, while not great, is not a great deal lower than that of Mexico, the United States of America and Costa Rica. Odds of 19.00 about a market that has a decent chance of ending in a four-way tie are more than acceptable, with the possibility of Honduras being CONCACAF’s star side not out of the question. Remember, Honduras qualified for the competition well ahead of Mexico and the latter is odds on to be the region’s top team. It does not make a great deal of sense so get on Honduras.