There is no bigger match in the first batch of 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil group games than England versus Italy and, with so much on the line for both the Three Lions and the Azzurri, one thinks that the clash screams goalless draw.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D is one of those pools in which there are, on paper, three fairly strong sides and one weak team. Uruguay got the best draw went it was given the chance to have the first crack at Costa Rica, leaving England and Italy to face off in a match that neither former FIFA World Cup winner will want to lose given the dreadful record of first-game losers qualifying for the next stage.
Photographs of the playing surface at the Amazonia Arena in Manaus made headlines around the world this week, with the images appearing to show that the pitch was little better than a cow paddock. An uneven pitch and weather conditions that would tax even the fittest player mean that there is a big chance of an ugly spectacle between England and Italy.
And it is not as though England and Italy do not have a long history of ugly spectacles. For example, England and Italy played out a 0-0 draw in the UEFA Euro 2012 quarter-finals in which the Three Lions held on for dear life against the vastly technically superior Azzurri only for the penalty competition to go the way of Cesare Prandelli’s side.
Bookmakers are not silly and they are trying to make betting on what one thinks are the obvious options for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between England and Italy as unattractive as possible. However, one thinks that odds of 3.00 with several firms, including Bet365 and BetVictor, are more than fair and that, with regards to correct scores, the odds of 6.50 on offer from several companies, including Coral, Sky Bet and William Hill, represent decent value as well. Of the odds-on options, under two and a half goals is a rationale play but the prices about that eventuality are understandably low.
Colombia and Uruguay are odds on across the board to kick off their 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil campaigns with wins over Greece and Costa Rica respectively. One agrees with bookmakers that the South American teams should prevail.
Unbeaten in seven games, Colombia has managed to kick on in spite of Radamel Falcao’s anterior cruciate ligament injury preventing him from playing since getting hurt in January. Colombia drew with both Argentina and Brazil in 2013 so it has proven that it can match it with the big boys and, while any side would miss a striker of Falcao’s class, one should note that most of his international goals en route to the 2014 FIFA World Cup were scored either versus the CONMEBOL area’s lightweight teams or from the penalty spot.
Greece has struggled to score goals against decent sides for quite some time now and, on a line through common opponent Bolivia, Colombia is much the stronger of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C combatants. Colombia beat 5-0 at home, while Greece beat Bolivia 2-1 in the United States of America. Backing Colombia at odds of 1.91 with Bet365, Coral and Sky Bet to beat Greece makes sense.
Like Colombia, Uruguay is on a seven-game unbeaten run and it should account for Costa Rica, one of the weakest teams to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. One suspects that Uruguay’s defence will not be able to repel sides that are stronger than Costa Rica but the flat-track bully is justifiably odds of 1.50 with Coral to defeat Los Ticos.
Finally, if there is to be a 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil shock on the third day of matches, Japan may be the team that provides it in its Group C clash with Cote d’Ivoire.
Japan has strung together five wins in the lead up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, including a 3-2 away victory over Belgium, and one thinks that its style of play may cause headaches for Cote d’Ivoire, which drew 2-2 away to Belgium four months after the Samurai Blue’s road success.
What does look nailed on for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C game between Japan and Cote d’Ivoire is a fairly high score since the Samurai Blue have kept one clean sheet in their last nine matches and Les Elephants have not shut out an opponent in any of their last seven games.
Japan is available at odds of 3.10 with Betfair‘s sportsbook to beat Cote d’Ivoire, while the 2014 FIFA World Cup Group C match is trading at odds of 2.05 with several bookmakers, including Ladbrokes, Sportingbet and Youwin, to be one in which neither side manages to keep a clean sheet.
Uruguay to beat Costa Rica
14th June 20:00 GMT
Where to Bet: Coral
Japan to beat Ivory Coast
15th June 02:00 GMT
Where to Bet: Betfair