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The one big reason you should be buzzing for the World Cup third place play-off

The game might be nothing more than a dead rubber, but history suggests we're in for some cracking entertainment

by Josh Powell | July 10, 2014

Goals. Goals. Goals.

Even the most average looking game can become a thriller when there are plenty of goals involved, as the more glamorous ties fill us frustration as they drift aimlessly towards a 0-0. Algeria’s 4-2 thumping of South Korea and Holland’s semi-final snooze-fest with Argentina tick those boxes with aplomb. That’s why, despite the glamour tie of the World Cup final on Sunday, you shouldn’t turn your nose up at Saturday’s third place play-off.

Hosts Brazil take on the Dutch in Brasilia (9pm) and it’s a game that, although nobody particularly cares about after the semi-final heartbreak, tends to throw up plenty of goals.


  • Will Brazil and Holland play out another high-scoring thriller? Get stuck into the odds here: Desktop | Mobile

Whether it’s that the lads involved aren’t under any pressure, fringe players are trying to make an impression on the manager, or that football stats are just a bit quirky from time to time, the history books point to a gluttony of goals on Saturday. The majority of third place play-offs feature far more goals than the tournament average – although France’s 6-3 win over Germany in 1958 is a crazy anomaly you can probably put a line through.

  • 82 per cent of the 17 third place play-offs (there was no match in 1930 or 1950) have featured over 2.5 goals. The last nine on the spin have been over the 2.5 line and it is no surprise that the odds are on the skinnier side at 4/7.
  • Over 3.5 goals might tempt you more at 11/8 however. 59 per cent of third place play-offs have featured four goals or more, including six of the last eight
  • 65 per cent of the time, the third place play-off features more goals than the actual World Cup final


  • Make sure you’re on target and shoot over this way for your latest dose of odds and betting: Desktop | Mobile

Now clearly nothing is going to come close to the tension, excitement and drama of the World Cup final, but a feast of goals while we enjoy a couple of pints on Saturday night wouldn’t go amiss. Fueled through the World Cup by energy drinks and many, many late-night trips to the vending machines, the traders have pretty much stayed on the ball and they’re pricing up the ‘Over 2.5 goals’ market with understandable caution. However, a little delve deeper into the stats might give you a value option.

  • There have been 36 first half goals in third place play-offs – an average of 2.12 a game. 65 per cent of the contests had featured over 1.5 first half goals and that is a 5/4 shot for Brazil’s clash with Holland
  • Although there have been plenty of goals in the last six games, there has sprung an unusual trend. In 2006 and 1990 there were seven goals in total in the second half but none in the first. Then in 1998 and 1994 there were seven goals combined in the first half but none in the second. It is 11/8 for there to be a goal-less half of football on Saturday night
  • The most common number of goals in this game is three or four (47 per cent). If you fancy the hosts, you can back Brazil to win with three or four goals in the game at 7/2, or if you fancy going Dutch, it is 5/1 for Holland to win in a game with three or four goals in total


The stats do come with a note of caution however – and that is the two teams involved. Although history points to a goal-fest, a Neymar-less Brazil look pretty toothless up front, while Holland haven’t scored in 240 minutes of World Cup football.

  • The trio of Fred, Hulk and Bernard have managed just one goal in the World Cup. They’ve taken a combined 26 shots, with just 13 hitting the target
  • Brazil have attempted the most shots of any side at this World Cup however with 101 attempts. 55 per cent have been on target and only Holland (59 per cent) and Germany (62 per cent) have been more accurate
  • The Dutch have played out two 0-0 draws against Argentina and Costa Rica now, both of which went to extra time. In that semi-final with the Argies, Holland managed just one shot on target in two hours of football

The World Cup hasn’t let us down too much so far, with some thrilling high-scoring games and one or two more end-to-end thrillers wouldn’t go amiss. History points to a feast of goals, but then again, history doesn’t account for Fred.

  • Backing the trends or bucking them? Get the latest odds on Brazil v Holland here: Desktop | Mobile

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