by Christopher Shepard - 01/26/2006
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As part of Group E, the United States faces feisty Italy, upstart Ghana and they'll have to play No.2 in the world Czech Republic in the first draw at Gelsenkirchen if they hope to improve upon their quarter final finish in 2002 FIFA World Cup.
One way of enjoying World Cup competition is by wagering on the winner of an individual group and/or the winner of entire tournament as many books will post a variety of 2006 World Cup odds for your betting enjoyment. The two are not mutually exclusive. For my purposes, I am going to look at the teams most likely to win the World Cup rather than the teams likely to win their group. Good thing for me the folks at Bodog have posted their 2006 World Cup odds. I will look at the countries I believe have a realistic chance at winning the World Cup this year.
Through a series of qualifying matches, 32 teams qualified for World Cup Germany and were selected for eight groups with four countries in each group. The two top teams in each group will advance to a round of 16, after which they will play knockout matches until the final game in Berlin on July 9.
If you're traveling to World Cup Germany, do yourself a favor and learn a few words in German. I recommend venturing beyond the safe shroud of "bitte, danke, und gut morgen" and you'll find a welcome response from your new found German friends at the Hoffbrauhaus. To help you along, I have included two phrases that are must learns and you might not find them on a travel website, "Gestern Abend habe ich meine Darm aus gekotzt" und "Wie viel kostet es für eine Prostituierte?" Translation, "last night I puked my guts out" and "how much does it cost for a prostitute?"
One more traveler's tip and I'll get back to gambling. If you find yourself in Berlin on or before July 9, make sure you visit the brand spanking new $5 million Euro brothel only a few U-Bahn stops from Olympic Stadium, the site of the main event. 'Artemis' boasts 100 working girls and accommodates 650 clients. A ratio of 6.5 men for every one prostitute when the brothel is really pumping!
With that in mind, I understand it is hard to think about FIFA World Cup Germany five months from now when we are wrapped around the uncertainty of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks in one mammoth game, but by betting on a country early (or on the favorite at the very least) you will enjoy better 2006 World Cup odds now than you will as the competition approaches.
Germany expects around 3 million visitors to the Fatherland for World Cup. You can make book that at least half of them will have something more than their country's colors splashed across their chests and painted on their faces. Bets that range from a ragged-ass chicken to dried ostrich scrotum or a pair of testicles, a brother's daughter, petrol, land, markers and cash all wagered on the outcome of FIFA World Cup Germany. On my side of the world, though, virtual bookies, hope peddlers and offshore V-chip warehouses are ready for my action. All the same I wonder what is German for, "Do prostitutes take V-chips?" Finally, here is a useless (for wagering) fact. Shortly before World Cup begins organizers will replace the turf in the stadiums with grass that has been grown in Germany and the Netherlands at secret locations to prevent vandals from damaging it.
Team followed by 2006 World Cup Odds
There is nothing is worse than losing a future bet in the first round of World Cup competition. All those months of research, planning, earning the bankroll to drop soundly on your outside pick Costa Rica? Because you went there and got a great hand job doesn't count as a reason either. By the same idea, you don't have to be Pele to know that if you want to play it safe and protect your money while maximizing the enjoyment of your wager and practically guaranteeing a three-to-one return on your money stop reading right here and go to your man and say you want Brazil on the nose for a nickel at 5/2. That is all there is to betting the World Cup.
Consider this. Brazil has won a total of five world cups with impressive wins in two of the last three World Cup competitions. The Samba Stars is also the only team to have played in the finals of all the World Cups. In qualifying play Brazil only dropped two contests; one to Ecuador and one to rival Argentina. The loss to Ecuador was most likely a result of the high altitude.
Meanwhile, coming out of Group F and a relatively easy draw against Japan, Australia and Croatia, Brazil boasts the best strikers in the game with Ronaldo, Robinho, Adraino, Kaka and Ronaldinho. The question for Coach Parriera is not whom to start, but rather who will he sit! If you bet Brazil to win the World Cup bet Brazil soon because the closer we get to June the shorter the odds will become. A wager on Brazil to win is a solid play that you will enjoy through out the competition and most likely into the finale. However, the safe play is not always the most exciting. Below I will look at a few other teams that might challenge Brazil's quest for a second consecutive World Cup.
Argentina finished runner up to Brazil in the South American qualifiers. Furthermore they won the Olympic Gold medal at Athens in 2004. However, lost in the statistics is the fact their play fell apart toward the end of the qualifiers and lost to Paraguay and Uruguay? Perhaps after notching 10 wins including a heady 3-1 victory over Brazil the Argentine team played with less conviction. In either case, Argentina has won the World Cup twice and been runner up twice in 13 finals. Argentina has a tough draw in Group C with Ivory Coast and Serbia-Montenegro. Either of these teams could possibly upset Argentina. All four of the teams in Group C are ranked in the top 50 in the world and it is not likely any match will be a rollover. Argentina commences play on Saturday June 10 in Hamburg, against Ivory Coast and in the second round of matches Argentina will face Serbia-Montenegro.
Argentina will need to pick up as many points as possible before facing their final opponent, cunning Netherlands. Whether Holland or Argentina gets through this tough group they'll be better poised to take aim at the World Cup, however, insiders believe that it is Ivory Coast or Serbia - Montenegro that will deliver an upset in this group.
England looks to exact their pound of flesh in Group B as they'll have a chance at Sweden in Group B (Sweden knocked out England in 2002). England appears to have one of the better draws going into the knock-out part of the competition. Coming out of Group B, the Brits will also face rookies Trinidad and Tobago and Paraguay. England has dominated Paraguay in previous meetings. England won 4-0 in a friendly in Liverpool in 2002 and 3-0 at the World Cup finals in Mexico 86.
Sven-Gorann Eriksson's 23 looks like the dominant team of Group A and should make it into the next rounds at the one spot. Those next rounds could possibly feature knockouts with Germany or Poland with Argentina or Holland. I have a hard time seeing England moving past the quarterfinals, which is why I don't like England to win the championship at these odds - or at any odds for that matter.
Home field is generally worth 3 points in NFL, however in World Cup play home field advantage is huge and most likely given a very favorable tip toward the odds man's pocket. This year raise your stein because Germany's first match in World Cup is against Group A long shot Costa Rica on June 9 in hard partying Munich. For the German squad this is almost like a tune up match and should help the Germans gain momentum in a somewhat less challenging draw than other teams.
The "obvious statement of World Cup Germany" award goes to, surprise, Germany's coach, Jürgen Klinsmann, when he remarked that his team could have fared worse than being placed in a group with Costa Rica, Poland and Ecuador. Can anyone say hometown discount? Certainly I do want to cast a pall over the joy that is World Cup Germany but a few months ago a referee was sentenced to two years and five months in prison for his role in a match-fixing scheme. How this bears out in Germany's draw is moot since they are heavy favorites to move on to the knockouts, but as a gambler I am always interested in refs who get nailed match-fixing.
Germany has made the finals in five of their last eight tournaments (winning World Cup twice) and I expect them to continue as hosts. Deutschland brings a team that still has questions about Klinsmann's ability to coach as well as he played. No doubt Germany is one of the most formidable sides in World Cup, but as a coach Klinsmann won just 12 of his first 21 games. Although it is tempting to bet the home team and all, I am not sure Klinsmann will be able to get the best out of all his players to win the tournament, however, I figure Germany will play a prominent role in deciding the outcome of the game. If the draws play out, I see the Germans able to beat England and Poland. Speaking of which, talk about your highly charged atmosphere at the Poland-Germany match! Even the police in Dortmund agree that trouble is expected at the June 14 match. Gamblers should note that the last time Germany hosted World Cup in 1974 the Germans won.
Czech Republic 30/1
If I was betting long odds in World Cup Germany, I would certainly have to give the Czech crew serious consideration. 30/1 is nice odds when the team you are backing is ranked No. 2 in the world. Czech Republic has notched eight finals appearances and two runner-ups as the team looks for their first World Cup title. At Euro 2004 they beat Germany and Holland but were startled by Greece in the semi-finals. But, and this is a big but, they need to play much better than they did in the qualifiers. They'll have to play better than they did against Holland who beat the Czechs both home and away as well as Romania.
Despite this, the draw looks semi-favorably on Czech Republic as they get a tune-up match against USA. But the match of this group will be Czech Republic against Italy. Both teams boast the world's top goalies, but Italy's qualifying run was more impressive than the Czechs; the Italians won seven of their ten matches and their only defeat came to Slovenia in 2004. This really does not mean much more than the Italians will bring in very high expectations of what they think they can accomplish in Germany. Many experts think that the qualifiers were a preview of what is to come from the Italians (17/2) and give them a better chance in the World Cup than the Czech Republic.
The only reason I include the USA is for the obvious one, team spirit. No, I don't actually advise a play on the USA. In the unlikely event that the USA did win the World Cup it would be on par with the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team. Just as big and just as improbable. If you can believe what you read, the United States team is currently ranked eighth in the world so perhaps a win would be just less than improbable but unlikely nonetheless. For the first challenge, the USA faces daunting competition against Czech Republic, which nearly won the European championship in 2004. The USA will also play Italy who they might have a chance to play tight as the Italians level of play has dwindled in recent years. They'll also have a tough match against Ghana. Despite Ghana's first appearance in World Cup, they'll not get pushed around by the brash USA.
Coach Bruce Arena expected that all the draws would be difficult but was happy that USA at least avoided being grouped with Brazil, Argentina or Germany. Arena is the first to agree that the Czech Republic and Italy have the best goalkeepers in the world, which will put points at a premium for the hometown heroes. Most likely, the United States would benefit from Italy and Ghana canceling each other out as a loss in their first match to the Czechs, a preview of an early exit from World Cup by team USA.
2006 World Cup Odds (Outright Win)*Odds courtesy of BODOG Sports
Czech Republic 30/1
Serbia & Montenegro 90/1
Ivory Coast 90/1
South Korea 200/1
Costa Rica 450/1
Saudi Arabia 750/1
Trinidad & Tobago 800/1