Costa Rica has not become a world beater overnight and Italy should be a banker at odds of 1.53 with several bookmakers, including Betfred, Boylesports and Ladbrokes, to take out the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D game in Recife.
Uruguay was pathetic against Costa Rica in the first 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match. The hot favourite was clueless in possession resulting in Edinson Cavani seeing very little of the ball. With Luis Suarez unable to take part, Cavani played in the most advanced role and Diego Forlan played in Cavani’s usual position as the second striker whose job it is to connect midfield and attack. Forlan failed miserably as Uruguay’s makeshift number 10, making it so easy for Costa Rica to defend that the Ticos did not receive a single caution during their shock win.
Costa Rica’s half a dozen pre-2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil friendly games resulted in one win over Paraguay, one draw with Ireland and four losses to Australia, Chile, Japan and South Korea. Costa Rica began the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil as an ordinary team and it would be folly to rate the Ticos as anything better than that based on an upset victory over a Uruguay side that was nothing short of embarrassing.
As is so often the case, Italy made light of pre-tournament worries to perform well on the big stage, beating England 2-1 in a surprisingly open 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match in the Amazonian jungle just a matter of days after drawing warm-up games versus Ireland and Luxembourg. Italy was good value for its victory over England and especially interesting was the body language of Azzurri striker Mario Balotelli, who made numerous selfless, smart runs off the ball and headed home his team’s second-half winning goal.
Costa Rica has not kept a clean sheet in any of its last 11 matches and that includes games against Honduras, Jamaica and Paraguay. All known form ranks Costa Rica several rungs below Italy and one thinks that the Azzurri’s odds of 1.53 are at least 10 per cent over the top, if not even more.
France and Switzerland meet in 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group E action and, unless something strange happens over the next week or so, the two European teams will qualify for the round of 16 at the expense of Ecuador and Honduras.
Bookmakers have chalked up France as the odds-on favourite for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group E match in Salvador and that seems an overreaction to the first batch of pool games in which the French beat Honduras 3-0 and Switzerland required a last-gasp goal to get the better of Ecuador 2-1.
Admittedly, winning 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group E means avoiding probable Group F winner Argentina in the round of 16 so France is going to be trying its best to defeat its neighbour but Switzerland is the seeded side, it qualified without losing a match and, on lines through the recent common opponents of the teams, if anything the edge lies with the Swiss. Successful long-term punting is all about striking value bets and Switzerland represents precisely that at odds of 5.25 with BetVictor and Boylesports.
Finally, there is the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group E game between two of the competition’s worst sides, Ecuador and Honduras. Ecuador may beat Honduras but no-one in their right mind would back the South American team at short odds to win any FIFA World Cup match, particularly one versus a side with which it drew 2-2 in the United States of America seven months ago. Both teams had a player sent off in that supposed friendly game and, given the rough manner in which Honduras tackled France, it may pay to focus on the cards markets rather than the popular ones regarding the result. For example, PaddyPower is offering odds of 5.50 that Honduras receives a red card in the match of the minnows.
Italy to beat Costa Rica
June 20th 17:00 GMT
Where to Bet: Betfred, Boylesports, Ladbrokes
Switzerland to beat France
June 20th 20:00 GMT
Where to Bet: BetVictor, Boylesports
Honduras red card against Ecuador
June 20th 23:00 GMT
Where to Bet: PaddyPower
Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.
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