Commodore's World Cup Picks

A festival of football that comes around every four years, I was meant to be in Brazil. Instead I'll be watching the World Cup at some dive bar, sipping on a Singapore Sling and wishing I was soaking up the sun on Copacabana. With South Africa's finest footballers doing something similar, at least the patriotic bets are out the window. Who knows, with a bit of luck I may be able to win my way to Russia 2018. Actually, on second thought, my winnings will be better spent on more of those Singapore Slings.

As for the betting, there's every market under the sun. From the more exotic (goals scored before one minute), to the usual (stage of elimination), and even the slightly absurd (top Bosnia-Herzegovina goalscorer). Edin Dzeko looks a decent bet at 15/10. Either way, there's very little you can't bet on, and we continue to wonder why corruption slinks through the halls of FIFA's headquarters. Enough of that though, let's get to the footy.

Group A
I'll begin at the beginning. It's as good a place as any. Group A has the hosts, those sneaky Mexicans, the crafty Croats and Cameroon, who are doomed. Brazil look certainties to top the group, but a second round clash with Netherlands or defending champions Spain awaits. If they manage to sidestep that landmine, I can't see them falling before the final. Croatia look to have enough about them to qualify in second spot, but neither them nor Mexico will have much of an impact on this tournament.

Group B
Group B is set up to provide the first big-name exit. Both of 2010's finalists will be joined by Chile and Australia. The Australian's might as well not have come, but I have a punters pinch that those Chileans are going to add some spice to the group. Netherlands may have waltzed through qualifying, but we've seen that before. Netherlands to be eliminated in the groups at 5/4 seems a better option than Chile to progress, for obvious reasons. Spain will slip through, but they aren't going to win the thing.

Group C
Let me go on record now as saying the winner will be South American. Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay; look no further. Group C looks an open and shut case, provided the Greeks don't screw things up like they did at Euro 2008. I've got Ivory Coast and Colombia progressing here, but without Radamel Falcao, the Colombians won't be going as far as we previously thought. Yaya Toure will be the top scorers for Cote d'Ivoire, and at 7/2 he represents much more value than the ageing Didier Drogba.

Group D
Group D, where d is for drama. That's what you get when you throw Luis Suarez, Mario Balotelli and some young dreamers from England into the same group. Many fancy England will be on an early flight home, but after seeing Italy play recently, there is sure to be an inquisition after their first round exit. They have nothing going for them. No pace, no power, less than no finesse. They'll probably win the whole thing. Notoriously slow-starters, a loss to England in their opener and their campaign will be over before it began. Italy to exit at the groups at 7/4 seems worth your while. I also fancy both of the teams from this group to make the quarter-finals at least, in what seems like a favourable draw for those lucky enough to make it out of the group.

Group E
Easy E: France should top things here unless Viva la Resistance breaks out again and they spend their training days playing hacky sack on the team bus. Switzerland are the seeded team here, and actually do have an impressive amount of young talent. They could prove to be surprise packages, even more so than the Belgians, who everyone seems to be banging on about. I don't trust golden generations. How many World Cup's did Luis Figo win? Stevie G, Frank Lampard, Owen and Beckham? Precisely. The Swiss need to win the group or risk facing the Argentineans in the next round. Either way 13/20 looks good money for the highest ranked team in the group to progress.

Group F
Who will be the great African hope this time around? Nigeria are the African champions, and have been handed one of the more favourable draws. Argentina will top this group, and in all honesty don't look likely to be tested until the semi-finals. I can wax lyrical about all the reasons why I think they're going to win the whole damn thing, but I'll save you the time. Just take your money, go to the nearest bookie that will give you 9/2 on them lift that trophy and cause Brazil to burn to the ground. Hot damn, what a story it will make. Back to the group at hand though, beware the Bosnians (and the Herzegovinians if that's their proper title).

Group G
Group G for me is the toughest of the lot. You have the best player in the world, Ze Germans, a German-coached American team and Africa's 2010 shining lights, Ghana. Any of these four teams could progress, but only one will. The Germans are the most consistent of World Cup nations, as only they can be. They'll top this group, but I see them falling short in the semi-finals once again. For me, the 7/2 on offer looks a decent wager. Portugal could well progress, but I don't see them making any impact here, unless Ronaldo produces some superhuman performances to lift what is in effect a mediocre team.

Group H
The final Group has very little attraction for me. As I've said before, the golden generation of the Belgians don't interest me. What does though are those sneaky Russians, who I fancy to top the group at a rather generous 22/10. If it's value you're looking for, then get your money out and throw down on Alan Dzagoev to be the top Russian goalscorer at 9/1. The CSKA Moscow winger grabbed three goals for the Russians despite their group stage exit from Euro 2012 and enjoys playing on the big stage. Belgium should have enough to qualify, but a possible second-round meeting with Germany could be the end for them.

I've filled my pockets at big tournaments before, and I intend on doing the same this time around. For those that really fancy their punditry skills, there's always a World Cup quartet. My first four reads: Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Uruguay (provided Suarez is fit). Feel free to throw in a couple more permutations, but that's the gist of it. The top goalscorer market is another that always gathers plenty of interest, and this year is no different. Given that most of the goals will be scored in the group stages, I'm going big on Sergio Aguero at 16/1. In truth there isn't much else to choose from, unless you fancy Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo to stamp their mark on the tournament, which I don't. The others are too much of an anomaly for me, and are more dependent on team performance rather than individuals.

All that's left is to place those wagers, sit back, kick the feet up and grab yourself one of those Singapore Slings or whatever else can get the job done. At least it'll take the edge off the fact that South Africa is a long way from Brazil, and so is it's football team. Sala Kahle brethren. 

Written by Commodore Vegas
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Commodore’s World Cup Picks
Edin Dzeko (Top Scorer - Bosnia) 15/10
Brazil (Top Group A) 1/4
Croatia (To qualify - Group A) 17/20
Spain (Top Group B) 7/10
Netherlands (Eliminated in Group B) 5/4
Ivory Coast (To qualify - Group C) 9/10
Colombia (To qualify - Group C) 1/4
Italy (Eliminated in Group D) 7/4
Switzerland (To qualify - Group E) 13/20
Argentina (Top Group F) 2/9
Germany (Top Group G) 5/10
Portugal (To qualify - Group G) 5/10
Russia (Top Group H) 13/20
Alan Dzagoev (Top Scorer - Russia) 9/1
Belgium (To qualify - Group H) 3/20