2014 World Cup Props Handicapping: Highest- and Lowest-Scoring Teams
by Trevor Whenham - 6/3/2014
As the World Cup draws near, it's time to look at all the prop bets that are available - at least partly as a way to stop us from counting the seconds until the long-awaited tournament finally starts. One pair of props that is really interesting is trying to pick which teams will be the highest- and lowest-scoring in the tournament. Neither prop is a good spot to really gamble and look away from the favorites, but looking at the contenders is an interesting experience. Here's a look at both (odds are from Bovada):
The underlying logic here is obvious and straightforward - the more games the better. A team that makes the finals will play seven games. A team that is eliminated in the first round will only play three games. That doesn't mean that you can only pick a team that is going to make the finals here. It does mean, though, that all other things being equal the team that is more likely to last longer is going to be more attractive.
With that in mind, there are obviously many teams we can rule out. The teams that barely have a hope of scoring a goal, never mind advancing - here's looking at you, Australia and Iran. The teams that just aren't good enough to trust - and as a Canadian I promise that I am not just picking on you Americans when I put your team in this group. Then there are the solid teams that have tough draws that are likely to get in the way of their goals - Belgium, for example, has a brutal draw in the later rounds pretty much regardless of how they do in the round robin. The Belgians are the fifth choice in this prop at 14/1, but given their draw I wouldn't touch them at that price.
With these parameters in place it is not surprising that the consideration comes down to just four teams - Brazil and Argentina (both 3/1), Germany (9/2) and Spain (7/1). Of those four the favorites are deservedly the most attractive, with Brazil having the edge. Both teams play very weak opening rounds, and they will both be able to score a lot of points in that round. Argentina will make Iran really hurt, and Brazil will rain down on Cameroon, for example. Brazil also has likely the easiest quarterfinal matchup assuming they make it that far. They are an explosive team, and they are not going to risk letting up late in games in front of the home crowd. The odds for the home squad are the same here as they are for them to win the whole tournament, but I think that this is a fair bit more attractive because they could lose - perhaps even in the semifinals - and still have a shot at paying off. It's not a bold choice, but Brazil is the play here.
This one is actually tougher than the highest scorer because there are more strong contenders. There are six teams that are in a really tough spot in this tournament and probably don't deserve to be here - and wouldn't be if they had to qualify through a tougher path. They are Australia (9/2), Costa Rica, Honduras and Iran (all 5/1), Algeria (8/1) and Cameroon (10/1). None of those teams is in any danger of advancing, so three games is all they get.
Australia is deservedly the favorite here. They are in a very, very tough spot in Group B. They are up against Spain, Netherlands and Chile - three teams that all deserve a spot in the second round and are going to be tough to beat. Australia won't beat any of them, and all three teams are going to be able to shut them down as well. It is not beyond the realm of possibilities at all for this team to be shut out in all three games.
While Australia is attractive, I would rather look for a slightly better price and take a rooting interest in Iran. Simply, we don't know anything about
this team. Most of their players play at home in the domestic league, and the country not surprisingly isn't open about the team and their development.
They qualified by playing in an almost impossibly weak region, and they didn't exactly overwhelm doing it. They just aren't used to playing at this level,
and their schedule of friendlies heading into the tournament has been ridiculously weak. They just don't appear to be very good, and they are my pick here.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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