World Cup Digest - Friday, June 16
by Trevor Whenham - 06/16/2006
Get more World Cup betting information including betting bonuses, World Cup odds and our famous World Cup picks, which in 2006 earned $100 bettors over ten times their initial investment. ($100 bettors earned $1,820 click here for details)
Here's a look at the day's matches, and the news that is important for bettors making decisions on upcoming games:
Argentina is pretty good - That's the understatement of the decade, and anyone who watched the game knows what I am talking about. Argentina was supposed to win, but they weren't supposed to rob Serbia of the will to live. It was a very impressive showing, proving that Argentina definitely came to Germany with an eye on the big prize.
Phenom Lionel Messi finally saw some playing time and showed that he is worth the hype. He only came in at the 73-minute mark, but managed to score a goal and set up two others in his first twenty minutes of World Cup experience. Any team that is deep enough to have a player that good on the bench is one to watch. The Argentinians should handle the Netherlands, and will be solid favorites in at least their first couple of elimination games.
Dutch no treat -The Netherlands won their second straight game to clinch a berth in the second round, and for the first 30 minutes of the game they looked like they deserved it. However, after scoring two quick goals (including a beautiful free kick) the team slipped into a coma and was very lucky to escape with three points. I watched the game with two Dutch fans and neither felt particularly jubilant about the win. The team will have to step up its effort and intensity in a big way for the next round to avoid an early trip home. Their passing was dull, their play was lethargic and the only thing they did with enthusiasm in the second half was whine. Assuming both teams exert full effort I don't see how this team can match up to Argentina.
Ivory Coast unlucky - This team played far too well in its first two games against the Dutch and Argentinians to be going home empty-handed. In several other groups they would have finished in second place and they deserve better. They showed far more effort than the Netherlands for most of the match but couldn't put one away.
That being said, their next game against Serbia & Montenegro is a handicapping nightmare. On one hand you have the Serbs who were humiliated and could either come out looking to prove themselves or quit completely. On the other hand you have the Ivory Coast who has to be frustrated by their fate and will be without their best player, Didier Drogba, after he got his second yellow card. You can make a solid argument for either team in the game, which usually tells me that neither team is a particularly good play.
Angola shakes up group D - Mexico was a solid -320 favorite, but Angola didn't seem to care as they played to a scoreless draw. The result means that the last two games in the group (Mexico - Portugal and Angola - Iran) are very important, which is a nice change from the first three groups where the remaining games are all but meaningless for anything but position. Mexico should have won the game, but Angola's goalkeeper Joao Ricardo was absolutely incredible, robbing the Mexicans countless times.
Looking forward - Saturday, Sunday and Monday
I might live to regret this statement, but from my viewpoint there are a lot of fairly easy games to pick over the next three days. There are some unattractive prices you have to pay because the favorites have a clear advantage in most cases, but solid favorites may make it worthwhile in a lot of those instances:
Portugal (-333) vs. Iran - Iran was no match for a Mexican team that wasn't at their best, and Portugal is on the same basic level as Mexico, so this one should be relatively simple for the Portuguese.
Czech Republic (-200) vs. Ghana - Some of what made the Czech's look so dominant in their first game was the ineptness of the Americans, but they played some very good soccer. Ghana was no match for Italy and shouldn't fare much better against a Czech team that is here to play.
Italy (-225) vs. U.S. - The biggest test for the Americans is how well they can rebound mentally from being humiliated. Italy played well in their opening match and should be able to win this one without too much trouble unless an entirely different American side materializes.
Croatia (-155) vs. Japan - This is one of the few matches that has the potential to go either way without being a huge upset. It is our chance to see which of the losers of the first games in the group deserved better. Japan gave up a lead in a crazy Australian comeback and Croatia played surprisingly close with Brazil. Croatia should probably win as the odds indicate, but it's a toss-up.
Brazil (-480) vs. Australia - Brazil will win. If they don't it will be one of the biggest stories in recent soccer history. The biggest thing you have to decide is if laying down $480 dollars for a shot at winning $100 is your idea of fun.
France (-255) vs. South Korea - France is the better team by a wide margin, but they are going to have to figure out how to score a goal in the World Cup for the first time in eight years in order to win. The way they have been playing offensively the draw (+290) may be more attractive than it should be.
Switzerland (-210) vs. Togo - Switzerland played France to a draw, which is slightly better than was expected of them. Togo is not a very good team and they are living a soap opera. That all points to an advantage for Switzerland.
Ukraine (-285) vs. Saudi Arabia - Ukraine got destroyed by Spain. The Saudis are the poor souls who have to suffer the wrath of the frustrated team. The Ukraine was embarrassed and their coach has called them out for the effort. A win in this game puts them back on track. A loss probably sends the whole team to the salt mines.
Spain (-333) vs. Tunisia - You know what Spain did to the Ukrainians. Tunisia is not even as good as Ukraine. Unless the Spanish start tripping over their massively bloated egos this game could get ugly.