By Josh Powell | World Cup 2014
We are just 245 sleeps away from another World Cup, which gives England fans approximately 259 sleeps before Roy Hodgson’s men crash out of another major tournament. Luckily there will be plenty of top quality football on show, as the world’s greatest (minus Gareth Bale) showcase their skills in Rio.
Punters have been smart enough to avoid the Three Lions in the World Cup 2014 outright betting, and have wisely stayed clear of the other home nations. Backing Scotland to win a World Cup is essentially the same as strapping your cash to a firework and lighting the fuse.
At least with the firework you get a few seconds of enjoyment and some pretty explosions.
With eight months until kick-off we’ve dipped into Paddy Power’s books to find out which teams have been the most popular with punters so far.
1. Belgium 16/1
24 per cent of the book
Almost a quarter of punters’ cash has come for Belgium. The team that was 66/1 between June and September in 2012 have been heavily backed into 16/1 on their way to picking up 22 points from a possible 24 in Group A. Marc Wilmots’ side have conceded just twice in eight games and boast more Premier League talent than Newcastle, Stoke and Norwich combined.
Vincent Kompany, Eden Hazard, Lukaku, Marouane Fellaini, Simon Mignolet and Christian Benteke all wear the red of Belgium and they are tipped as the ‘Golden Generation’ of Belgian football. We all know what that tag did for England however!
2. Spain 11/2
23 per cent of the book
Winners of all three major international tournaments in the last five years. Unbeaten in Group I and looking to become only the third nation to win back-to-back World Cups. Not hard to see why 23 per cent of punters’ cash is on Spain then?
Though bar a 4-0 hammering of Belarus in qualifying they have hardly had a stellar campaign scoring just 10 in six matches and struggling away to Georgia and at home to Finland. Saying that they’re still unbeaten and have plenty of experience winning major tournaments.
3. Germany 5/1
17 per cent of the book
The Germans are strolling through qualifying with all the efficiency you’d expect from a stereotypical German. The towels are already down in Brazil and due to their well-built cars and efficient public transport system, no fan will miss their flights. That’s every stereotype nailed then.
Joachim Low’s side have made the semi final, at worst, in five of the last six major international tournaments. The only points they’ve dropped in qualifying this year was in a 4-4 draw with Sweden, although some people would say they were extremely fortunate to beat Ireland 6-1 in Dublin. Those people are insane. And probably on meth.
4. Brazil 10/3
14 per cent of the book
The favourites, the hosts and the five-time World Cup winners. As hosts they haven’t played much competitive football but they did win the Confederations Cup, beating Spain comfortably in the final 3-0. Other than that they’ve chipped in with some comprehensive wins (see 6-0 against Austria) and questionable defeats (1-0 against Switzerland) in games that nobody particularly cares about.
5. Argentina 5/1
Nine per cent of the book
Argentina are well backed with nine per cent of punters’ cash as Lionel Messi attempts to win the greatest prize in International football. He may be struggling for space on the mantelpiece but he should squeeze it in somewhere. Argentina have lost just one of their 14 qualifying games and have guaranteed their spot in Rio quite easily.
It has been 28 years of hurt for the Argies which will at least make some England fans feel better about the national side.