With half of the groups now completed at the 2014 World Cup the draw for the knock-out stages are starting to take shape.
There are four South American nations playing on Saturday with Brazil taking on Chile and Colombia facing Uruguay. On Sunday the Netherlands take on a well-organised Mexico side whilst two surprises of the tournament do battle for a quarter-final place later as Costa Rica meet Greece.
I can make a case for Chile to eliminate Brazil but it’s a tough call. I like the Netherlands at 1.50, Colombia at 1.57 and am leaning towards Greece at 2.00 to win those qualification matchups. That treble is worth a few quid.
Netherlands, Colombia and Greece to qualify treble is 4.71
Today France and Argentina both need only to avoid defeat to win their respective groups.
Ecuador will be looking to upset the French later this evening and depending on the Switzerland-Honduras result, the bookmakers suggest they will need to win to avoid becoming the first and only South American side eliminated at the group stage of this year’s World Cup.
Barring a heavy defeat, France have all-but-won Group E and Didier Deschamps can be expected to rest a few of his key players before their second round match. Yohan Cabaye is already suspended whilst both Paul Pogba and Patrice Evra are already a yellow card away from suspension.
This French team has some good depth with the likes of Bacary Sagna, Eliaquim Mangala, Lucas Digne, Morgan Schneiderlin and Loïc Remy all yet to make an appearance.
The group winners with likely face Nigeria or possibly Iran in the next round. The winners of that tie go on to face Germany.
Switzerland need to better Ecuador’s result to qualify. They face the tough-tackling Hondurans who still remain the only CONCACAF side to have lost this World Cup. They’ve lost both of their matches too and need something special to get out of the group.
Although they conceded 5 against France and 1 against Ecuador, Switzerland did have a good defence in qualifying.
These two played out a 0-0 draw when Switzerland needed to win four years ago. I think the European side are better this time around and will qualify.
Switzerland to win to nil is 2.25
Argentina have yet to turn it on at this World Cup, beat Bosnia and Herzegovina 2-1 and then Iran 1-0. Some magic from Lionel Messi was the difference on both occasions.
Nigeria looked unimpressive in their opener before looking sharp in their 1-0 win over the European side in the group. They head into this match as the only nation yet to conceded at Brazil 2014 but I am expecting that to change after this evening even if a draw suits both teams.
Argentina need to kick on before they enter the knock-outs and I see them being too good for the Nigerian defence this evening.
Argentina to win is 1.50
The South American side with Messi, Sergio Agüero, Gonzalo Higuaín and Ángel di María have an abundance of talent in attack. Question marks have certainly been raised over their midfield and defence so far in this tournament.
Winning their group likely means Switzerland or Ecuador in the next round in which you’d expect Alejandro Sabella’s side to progress. At which point they’re into the quarter-finals before you’d expect them to have been troubled.
This is a great opportunity for Lionel Messi to add some goals to his name. He is currently 2 behind top scorer Neymar with this game in hand. Will this be the Barcelona star’s World Cup?
Lionel Messi is 6.00 to be the Top Scorer at the 2014 World Cup
bwin World Cup Blogger’s League
We are taking part in the bwin World Cup Blogger’s League, a betting competition between top football sites, to follow our progress head to www.bwinbetting.com.
All of the odds included are sourced from bwin.com and you can find more on bwin’s World Cup offering, including Double/Treble returns, here.