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World Cup Picks

by Ben, last updated 2006-06-01 11:57:22

 Bat's the way I like it, Aha Aha

 By Gerry McDonnell

I have to feel a certain amount of sympathy for the wife. I know she doesn't enjoy me constantly discussing football, she's Scottish. Over the last few weeks I've bored her to tears with my thoughts on seven foot strikers, Wayne Rooney's foot and the merits of a fifth striker. She does occasionally take an interest though, I heard her on the phone to her mother discussing the need for a man in the hole. Luckily for my Buckfast swilling spouse, it's finally time for the talking to stop and for the action to begin.

England head in to their opener against Paraguay on the back of a superb performance against Jamaica. Admittedly, Jamaica are not Brazil, but a six goal shoeing remains a six goal shoeing. A confident England look a great bet at 4/7 to kick off their campaign with a win.

Sven looks set to play a 4-4-2, and it's that middle 4 that will win the match for England. Joe Cole, Gerrard, Lampard and Beckham all look in fine form, Becks can actually land a football on a penny from 60 yards, he's quite tight like that. Golden Balls is a tasty 10/1 shot to net the opener.

The robotic goal machine formerly known as Peter Crouch looks certain to start, and although I'm not his biggest fan, I am a supporter of the ‘follow the striker in form' philosophy; the body popping beanpole is available at 6/4 to net at any time.

It's a shame that our Scottish brethren will not be participating in the finals, and to add insult to injury, UK Gold have shelved plans to show matches from their last finals appearance back in (19)‘98, claiming Paramount was a more natural home, allegedly.

On a brighter note, the tartan army can get behind Trinidad & Tobago player Jason Scotland; although that too looks likely to end in tears as the Swedes are certainties to see off the Caribbean islanders on Saturday afternoon. At skinny odds of 1/4, you won't be able to buy a yacht with your winnings, unless of course, you are wagering 80% of the cost of a yacht.

Saturday's action concludes with Argentina v Ivory Coast. The Argies are my pick for the whole shooting match, so I can't see Drogba's mob causing an upset. Riquelme has been described by the country's leading betting expert as a genius and he's surrounded by players of a similar ilk. Playing on Crespo & co at 4/7 will pay for the Saturday night curry; join me in an Argy bhaji.

I always thought the ‘group of death' referred to married men, but it's a sporting cliché as old as Helen Chamberlain herself. Sunday's early match will see Serbia & Montenegro and Holland fight for the honour of joining Argentina in the knockout stages. Any team that has the word beer in their name has to be respected, but I prefer orange; the Dutch should be backed at 5/6.

Sunday's action continues with Mexico v Iran, in a match that could be a play-off for the nation that dislikes America the most, with presumably the French playing the winners. The Mexicans can wave goodbye to the Iranian dream, 8/15 is on offer.

Here's a dull stat, the first player to ever score a hat-trick in the World Cup was a Yank. Here's an interesting fact, the Yanks are not the 5th Best team in the world, even though those bureaucrats at FIFA would suggest otherwise. The Czech Republic are available at 10/11 to see off the USA on Monday, jump on it like it was a bouncy castle with a lager roof.

Another excellent betting proposition presents itself on Monday, when Australia meet Japan in group F. The Aussies are available at a huge 11/8, that's enough to buy plenty of shrimp for the barbie, or a few surfboards, or cricket bats for local immigrants.

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 Don't fry for me, Argentina

 By Gerry McDonnell

There is only one activity in life that can be considered preferable to watching a World Cup match with an ice cold lager, and that's when you look in to the eyes of your loved one, and whisper those three little words, "I was on," as you gently caress a winning betting slip while watching a World Cup match with an ice cold lager. The following guide will transform that utopian dream into a reality.

Argentina are available at 9/1 to hold aloft the trophy and here are five reasons why you must get on. Riquelme's a genius, Crespo oozes class, Ayala is a colossus, Heinze adds real variety and Tevez makes Ronaldo look like Crouch. They also have ‘the new Maradona' in their team; with Messi, they could literally clean up. As so many of their players are plying their trade in Spain and Italy, the stat that suggests that South American teams struggle in Europe is now as redundant as a Scottish football correspondent.

England also have a genuine shot at the prize. Sven has finally began to justify his huge package by bravely selecting Lennon and Walcott, while Joe Cole, Stevie Gerrard and Frank Lampard can all be filed under the ‘a bit tasty' category. The only real drawback is the Rooney factor; with Wayne missing the start of the tournament, Peter Crouch has gone from an acceptable ‘plan B' (The ‘B' is short for Baldrick) to a potential starter. The lack of a 5th striker prevents me from putting my own hard-earned on Sven's men, but I wouldn't talk anyone out of a little saver at 15/2.



Of the outsiders, South Korea could be worth a small interest. The Koreans have an admirable policy of bringing their youth players through to the first team; they have A. Jung-Hwan up front. At 250/1, you'll get a small run for your money.

Germany head the list of teams to be avoided. Franz Beckenbauer once said of the national team, "If you put all the German players in a sack and hit it, you would get someone who deserved it." They've gone backwards since then. Steer clear at a miserly 7/1.

The Brazilians should also be given a wide berth. The three R's were hot 4 years ago, but Ronaldo's now round, Roberto Carlos is now a relic and judging by the Champions League final, Ronaldinho is ridiculously over-rated. The much hyped pair of Adriano and Robinho have both had seasons to forget and Kaka sounds like he should be playing for Spurs. At a general 9/4, there's little to no value.

In the Golden Boot market, Carlos Tevez looks overpriced at 40/1. The Chelsea target practically won Olympic gold for Argentina single-handedly two years ago, finding the net eight times in six matches. I'd be fond of placing a saver on Van Nistelrooy, and the great Henry; fonder.

Group betting is a must avoid in a ‘two go through' scenario, as short priced favourites are often content with the runners-up spot, as a cushier draw can often be a result. The only punt even worth considering in this market is a perm of the 2nd favourites, if you reside in Liverpool, you'll be familiar with the perm already.

The pick of the ante-post specials has to be the market for the top Italian goalscorer. Totti is available at 6/1 to top score for the Azurri and that's worth a small nibble. Luca Toni has scored goals for fun in Serie A this season, Toni looks good, but I prefer Totti.


World cup specials: One for all, and well, that's it.


Angola ‘Water player' - Akwa to be Angola's top scorer 7/2 (Stan James)

Argentina ‘You're the Juan' - Riquelme to be Argentina's top scorer 8/1 (Betfred)

Australia ‘Stretch Mark' - Viduka to score with a header against Brazil 10/1 (Super Soccer)

Brazil ‘The Two Ronnies' - Ronaldo and Ronaldinho both to score against Croatia 4/1 (Super Soccer)

Costa Rica ‘Slam Chop' - Paolo Wanchope to be Costa Rica's top scorer 10/3 (Premier Bet)

Croatia ‘Who loves you baby?' - Nico Kovac to score against Brazil 10/1 (Super Soccer)

Czech Rep ‘Ned flounders' - Pavel Nedved not to score in the group stage 6/5 (Super Soccer)

Ecuador ‘Shown the Dor' - Ecuador to finish bottom of their group 7/4 (Sporting Odds)

England ‘Beers to you, Mr Robinson' - England to keep a clean sheet in all three group games 9/2 (Super Soccer)

France ‘Terry, towel in' - Henry not to score in the group stage 4/1 (Super Soccer)

Germany ‘Ballack King' - Michael Ballack to be Germany's top scorer 4/1 (Betfred)

Ghana ‘Never Ghana give you up' - Ghana to qualify from their group 7/2 (Premier Bet)

Holland ‘Off to a flyer' - Kuyt to score Holland's first goal 6/1 (Stan James)

Iran ‘Daei hard' - Ali Daei to be sent off in the tournament 20/1 (Super Soccer)

Italy ‘Aless in Wonderland' - Del Piero to be Italy's top scorer 10/1 (Stan James)

Ivory Coast ‘How Didi do that?' - Drogba to score against Argentina 5/2 (Stan James)

Japan ‘Big in Japan' - A Japanese player to score with a header against Brazil 4/1 (Super Soccer)

Mexico ‘Taco look at this' - Mexico to top their group 6/4 (Bet Direct)

Paraguay ‘Para shoot' - Paraguay to score against England 10/11 (Super Soccer)

Poland ‘Pole axe' - Poland not to qualify from their group 6/4 (Bet 365)

Portugal ‘Paul the trigger' - Pauleta to win the golden boot 33/1 (Totesport)

Saudi Arabia ‘A sheikh up' - Saudi Arabia to qualify from their group 7/1 (bet365)

Serbia & Mont. ‘Off Yugo' - Savo Milosevic to be sent off in the tournament 12/1 (Super Soccer)

South Korea ‘A Korea opportunity' - South Korea to qualify from their group 13/8 (bet365)

Spain ‘Up the Villa' - David Villa to score with a header against Ukraine 6/1 (Super Soccer)

Sweden ‘Abba cuss' - Sweden not to qualify from their group 2/1 (Premier Bet)

Switzerland ‘I believe I can Frei' - Alexander Frei to be the Swiss top scorer 13/8 (Bet Direct)

Togo ‘Adebayor, but he's pulled out' - Adebayor not to score in the tournament 4/6 (Super Soccer)

Trinidad and T. ‘It's up to you' - Dwight Yorke to score against England 9/2 (Super Soccer)

Tunisia ‘I'll name that Tune in 4' - Tunisia to finish bottom of their group 3/1 (Premier Bet)

Ukraine ‘Little Shev' - Shevchenko to score with a header against Spain 6/1 (Super Soccer)

USA ‘A blushing Bride' - Brian McBride to be the top USA scorer 5/2 (Ladbrokes)








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