Betting 101: The Inside Word on … the World Cup Finals

Updated: June 12, 2014
The World Cup presents a unique set of circumstances for punters every four years

The World Cup presents a unique set of circumstances for punters every four years

The World Cup Finals present a series of unique conundrums for punters. There have been just 19 previous editions of the tournament spread over 84 years for punters to derive statistics, and four years is a long time between drinks! We’re also dealing with many nations that rarely meet on the international stage – how do you truly compare Honduras with Cameroon, or Iran with Ecuador? However, with our pillars of sports betting to follow and our unique experience of covering previous editions of the tournament, The Inside Word team have a decent handle on the greatest show on Earth.

Weather watch

We’ve seen precious little written about the conditions in which many games will be played over the next month. Take, for example, today’s weather in Porto Alegre (cool, rain and 21°C) to Manaus (hot, humid and 33°C). The impact of such conditions is going to be magnified as games have been scheduled in the heat of the day (1pm start) through to twilight and night games. Carefully consider the impact of teams that have suffered through the heat as the tournament progresses. As we witnessed in USA 1994, the heat took its toll, especially teams from northern European nations.

Home field (and continent) advantage

Remember the scene in The Godfather where the heads of the so-called “five families” meet to settle their grievances? A meeting of the CONMEBOL (South American) confederation is not dissimilar. The national federations have only distain for each other, but happily unite when it comes to opposing European football interests. Expect Brazil (through fair means and foul) to be handed every advantage under the sun during this tournament, especially from the whistleblowers. It’s also relevant (to a lesser extent) for the other South American countries. We’ve factored this into our markets and value the home advantage worth almost one goal per game for the Selacio.

Picking the group apart

We detest the term “Group of Death” as it’s nonsensical on so many levels. Just because Germany, Portugal, USA and Ghana have been placed in the same group doesn’t necessarily make it the toughest. The fixturing of the six games between the four nations carries much greater relevance. For instance, using Group G as our template, Germany and Portugal play in the first game. That means the USA or Ghana could enter their second group game with three points. Potentially, the second qualifier from this group could sneak through with four points (1W 1D 1L). That would mean USA or Ghana might only need a draw from their second and third group games.

Last man standing

The winner of the 2014 World Cup Final will have played seven games before lifting the trophy. Keeping tabs on injuries is always important, but perhaps more so in a tournament of this stature as the loss of one player – and perhaps not the most obvious candidate – can throw out a team’s system. Likewise, the depth to cover an injury or suspension is critical. No player is 100 per cent fit barely four weeks after the end of their domestic seasons, but be wary of players carrying significant injuries into these finals – it generally ends in tears.

The value comes early

History confirms that once the group stage is complete, the cream usually rises to the top. But prior to that, group games can be a bit of a lottery. There will always be teams that out-perform expectations and teams that head home with their tails between their legs. Based on our model for Brazil 2014, teams that the market has undervalued include the host nation (they are massively underpriced to win the tournament), Chile, Colombia, Bosnia-Herzogovina and Ecuador – notice that four of the five are South American teams. Argentina, Spain, Uruguay, England, Belgium, the Netherlands and Portugal are all poor value.

Turn the sound down

This item qualifies as our fifth pillar of sports betting, but it’s worth a reminder. You’ll be bombarded with media coverage of the World Cup Finals in newspapers, on TV and online. The vast majority of this commentary is completely irrelevant for our purposes, and most of the statistics you’ll hear quoted have little or no bearing on the outcome of the game (time of possession is a good example of a useless stat that is quoted ad nauseum). As always, do your own homework and back your own judgment and you’ll quickly recognise that the experts aren’t so expert after all.

• For our complete World Cup coverage, click here. For details of betting promotions on the World Cup, click here.



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