World Cup group betting

June 7, 2006
By Sean Smith

GROUP A

The first group gives us an opportunity for a value wager.

Germany (1.4 at Bet 365) as hosts of the tournament are huge odds-on favourites to progress at the top of their group.

History is on the Germans' side. Hosts tend to do very well in the early stages and progression is almost assured.

But Germany have not beaten a major footballing nation for six years and questions remain as to whether Jurgen Klinsmann's efficient side has the class this time around.

And in their group Poland (4.33 at William Hill) are unlikely to be a cakewalk for the host side.

They will pack the Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund with fans from the local Polish community and many more will make the short trip across the border for a game that will make or break their world cup.

With Ecuador (10.0 at Coral) and Costa Rica (17.0 at Bet 365) being such poor opposition the group will be won in that single game in Dortmund.

There also may be some value in the qualifying market. Back Poland to qualify from Group A at a palatable 1.53 with William Hill.

GROUP B

Group B is a real problem group in picking a winner - simply because of the make-up of the second round.

While I am pretty confident that, if all things are equal, England (1.77 at Bet 365) will win the group with a little in hand, things are not so equal in this world cup.

The problem centres around the timing of the final games in Group A, which will provide both opponents for the winner and runner-up of group B.

If it comes to pass that Sweden (2.87 at William Hill) and England are top of the group and both already in a position to qualify - then the result may come down to whether Germany win Group A (in which case they play the runners-up of Group B) or are runners-up (they will then play the winners of Group B).

In short, England could be in a position where to lose against Sweden could prove more beneficial because it means they will face Poland (who England have an excellent record against) instead of Germany (record against Germany in Germany, not so good).

The third factor in the group is Paraguay (9.0 at Coral) who will be no slouches in this world cup.

They have a strong record in recent world cups and have also been in excellent form of late - and I am backing the qualify (2.5 at Bet 365) at Sweden's expense.

Back England and Paraguay to qualify 1st and 2nd respectively (5.0 at Bet 365).

One more thought: if you are impressed by the size of Trinidad & Tobago's odds to qualify (13.0 at William Hill) - or even win the group (41.0 at Bet 365) - and are thinking of backing them, take a deep breath and walk away. They are just not worth it at any price.

What do you think? How's your luck? E-mail me your comments at ballselecta@blueyonder.co.uk