With the team-by-team guide done, we move on to our Group Preview. In this first piece we look at the first four groups, what looks best value and who we fancy to Qualify. We have tried to find 2 markets for each side, and that represent good value. Here we go!
Brazil are hot favourites to win this group @ 1/5, and shouldn’t face too much competition from Cameroon, Mexico or Croatia. In an Acca 1/5 would boost the price a little, and will feature in our Group Winner Accumulator. Our best odds tip for Brazil is 9 Group Points @ Evens.
Croatia face a stiff task in beating off Mexico and Cameroon for 2nd, but we do fancy them to take 2nd spot @ 11/10. Mario Mandzukic misses the first game against Brazil, but should feature after that. Our other tip for Croatia is Over 3.5 Points @ 5/6.
Mexico do have a very good little squad, but we feel they will be overpowered by Brazil and Croatia. For them to exit at the group stage it is 8/13, and our other favourite tip is Under 3.5 Points @ 4/5.
Cameroon are expected to be the whipping boys of the group, but looking at their squad they should be putting a very good fight up, even taking a few points we think. To Finish Bottom they are 8/13, but the best we think they will manage is to take a point from Mexico, and for that reason we Tip Under 2.5 Points @ 8/11.
Our Forecast for this group is Brazil (1st), Croatia (2nd) – Odds of 6/4!
Spain should win this group with ease, but need to be careful of Chile, and Holland of course – but 8/11 to win the group is great value. We think they will go unbeaten, drawing against either Holland or Chile and ending with 7-9 points, which is our Tip – Over 6.5 Points @ Evens.
Holland are some peoples favourite to follow Spain through, but looking at their defence we get the impression they could struggle against Chile. A lot depends on the fitness of Arturo Vidal, but in general they have a good squad. Either way we expect Holland Under 4.5 Points @ Evens, and Exit at Group Stage @ 11/8.
Chile are a team everyone fears nowadays, and Spain and Holland will both be worried. Arturo Vidal may not be fit for the first game, but with others like Isla, Sanchez and Vargas. It will be between Holland and Chile for the 2nd spot, and we are risking it with Chile @ 4/5, and Over 3.5 Points @ 4/7.
Australia will be the whipping boys of this group. You can barely see where a goal is going to come yet alone a point! For this reason, our Top Tip is 0 Points @ 11/10 and Finish Bottom @ 1/4. Under 1.5 Points is 4/11 but you can’t use it in an Accumulator, so its pretty worthless!
Our Forecast for Group B is Spain 1st, Chile 2nd – 5/2.
A very interesting group – Colombia should win it, and @ 4/5 we like those odds! The other price we like in the Colombia market is Over 5.5 Points @ 4/6 – even without Falcao they have more than enough in the likes of Bacca, Rodriguez, Cuadrado and Guarin to defeat the likes of Japan, Greece and Ivory Coast.
The fight for 2nd will be one of the most hotly contested battles during the group stages. Japan are looking good as a team, with the likes of Honda, Kagawa and Okazaki likely to impress. They are Evens to Qualify, with Over 3.5 points being 5/6. The other team fighting for 2nd is the Ivory Coast. With Drogba, the Toure brothers, Tiote, Gervinho and more they will be expected to progress, but they seem to never produce the goods at big tournaments. Group Stage exit is 8/13 and Over 3.5 Goals is Evens.
Greece complete Group C – but we expect them to do poorly. Mitroglu’s move to Fulham backfired, with their main man getting 120 minutes of football in near 5 months. Their squad is ageing fast, and with few young players developing, we think they will finish bottom of the group @ 11/8 and Under 3.5 Points @ 4/6.
Group Forecast Prediction – Colombia (1st), Japan (2nd) – 4/1
This is the group of death! England, Uruguay and Italy would all rather not have been in this group. We predict a tight fought group, with as little as 4 points being enough for 2nd place. We think Italy will win the group @ 13/8 but their defence will be key – Under 5.5 Group Goals @ 1/2 is our other favourite tip.
England, with a team finally picked on form rather than who’s playing for the top 4 teams, could do very well. We fancy them to get out of the group, but only just. We fancy Under 4.5 Points @ Evens, or 3-4 Points @ 11/8.
Uruguay have a very ageing squad, with very few of the 23 man squad being under 25. Unless Suarez and Cavani fire, they are knackered. In midfield there is very little creativity, Cristian Rodriguez being the only one with a little flair.
Costa Rica are a decent outfit but one we think will lose all three games. 0 Points is currently @ 6/4, and to finish bottom is 1/5.
Our Forecast for Group D is Italy/England @ 4/1
Part 2 will be coming up around 4pm. All odds on view here are from William Hill