The Pinnacle Pulse - World Cup Wagering
by Simon Noble - 06/21/2006
It's said that coaches win games, players lose them, and referees ruin them. Never was this more evident than in the U.S. vs. Italy match, spoiled by referee Jorge Larrionda's overused red-card.
Despite being underdogs in the game, the United States played inspired, attacking football in the first half. In the 28th minute, Daniel De Rossi threw a vicious elbow at Brian McBride, opening a gash requiring three stitches. De Rossi was properly red-carded and the U.S. continued to play at an intense level. In the first half, the U.S. out-shot Italy 6 to 4.
But forty-five minutes of good play was all there would be. The Uruguayan referee red-carded Pablo Mastroeni in the 45th minute for a late tackle and Eddie Pope in the 47th minute for a second bookable offence. For the remainder of the game, the U.S. played down 9 men to 10 with a Herculean effort against a team they've never beaten. The game finished in a 1-1 tie - a moral victory for the U.S. but a point was the least that they deserved after a display full of spirit and determination in Kaiserslautern.
That draw, coupled with Ghana's shocking 2-0 win over the Czech Repbulic, allowed the Italians (1-0-1, 4 pts., +2 goal differential) to seize the top spot in the group. The Czechs (1-1-0, 3 pts., +1) were second, Ghana (1-1-0, 3 pts., 0) was third, and the United States (0-1-1, 1 pt., -3) was in the cellar.
In a previous column, we discussed situational wagering on World Cup matches. There might be such opportunities now in this group. In order to identify these, you need to understand how each team can advance, and when teams have an incentive to cooperate.
For the U.S. to advance, they must defeat Ghana and have help from one of the following scenarios:
1. Italy defeats the Czech Republic
2. Italy and the Czech Republic tie, and the U.S. beats Ghana by five or more goals to go through on goal differential over the Czechs.
3. The Czech Republic defeats Italy, and the U.S. beats Italy on goal differential (the U.S. presently trails by five).
Italy will advance with a win or draw in their match against the Czech Republic. If they lose, they can advance if:
1. Ghana and the U.S. tie.
2. The U.S. wins and doesn't cover the goal differential.
The Czech Republic advances by beating Italy. If they tie, the Czechs can move on if:
1. Ghana and the U.S. tie.
2. If the U.S. wins and doesn't cover the goal differential.
Ghana will advance with a win, no matter what the outcome of the Italy-Czech game. Ghana can also advance with a tie if Italy wins.
Before 1982, the final games in each group were not played at the same time. One game changed all that - the West Germany vs. Austria game in the 1982 World Cup in Spain. Both teams knew that a West Germany win by 1 or 2 goals would advance both teams to the knockout stage. When West Germany scored first, both teams stopped trying, content to advance to the second round. Since then, the final two games in each group have been played simultaneously to minimize manufactured results, which are now harder but not impossible to do.
Although the games may be played at the same time, teams are always aware of the score in the other match, whether from the scoreboard, the fans in the stadium or straight from the sideline. There are a few things you can already expect. Italy and the Czech Republic clearly want the U.S. to win. With the exception of a huge blowout, a U.S. win will allow Italy and the Czechs to go through with a draw.
How can sharp players look to profit from this scenario? One obvious way is live betting while the game is in progress. At Pinnacle Sportsbook, you can bet anytime during a game with our reduced juice 16-cent lines. It's actually cheaper to bet live than to bet at another sports book before the game!
If the U.S. takes an early lead, expect Italy and the Czech Republic to slow the pace of the game down. In World Cup play, only about 1 in 10 teams can win after being a goal down. An intentional draw then gives the Czechs a 90% chance to advance (with the 10% failure coming only from a miraculous Ghana comeback), and Italy a 100% chance of going through to the knockout stages.
Based on the "Pinnacle Lean", the market suggests Italy will win their match-up about 45% of the time, while the Czech Republic will win 25% of the time. When both teams' chances of advancing improve through a mutually beneficial result, there's a good chance it will occur. If the U.S. takes an early lead, we'd expect the sharps to play the under and the draw in the Italy vs. Czech Republic game.
Another way to exploit this interesting dynamic is through a correlated parlay. A U.S. victory makes a draw more likely in the Czech/Italy match. Parlaying the U.S. on the moneyline with a draw in the Italy game will have equity for sports books that allow you to do it.
Whatever your position, don't forget that at Pinnacle Sports betting we offer up to 85% better odds on spreads/Asian handicaps, up to 50% better odds on totals, live in-running betting with 16-cent lines, and a huge range of markets available. You can also follow all of the action at http://www.pinnaclesports.com/worldcuplive with live scores, updated stats and the latest odds on the World Cup.
What action are we getting on different World Cup bets?
U.S. +202 to win v. Ghana
We opened this at +259, and have been flooded with public money on the U.S. There are some sharps on Ghana, but not enough to overcome the sheer volume of money from U.S. supporters in what could be the last chance to bet their team in this World Cup.
Brazil to win 2006 World Cup: No -368
Brazil was the clear favorite to win the World Cup as soon as the markets opened. While they've won their opening matches, their performance has been lackluster at times and it seems that Ronaldo has lost his brilliance. These concerns have people speculating that Brazil won't win this year, elevating the "No" from its -325 opener to -368.
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