While Spain have been eliminated and England are on the verge of elimination, Europe’s other major nations have all got off to a winning start – the Netherlands, Italy, France and Germany.
You can make a case for each being a World Cup contender, arguably looking stronger than the hosts and pre-tournament favourites Brazil.
This weekend, Italy and Germany are heavy favourites to make it 6 points from a possible 6 heading into their final group game, whilst France face a sterner test against Switzerland.
Italy vs Costa Rica
If England are to undeservedly progress to the knockout stage of the 2014 World Cup they need Italy to win both of their remaining games. They can start by doing that against a Costa Rica side who pulled off one of the biggest surprises in the opening week with the 3-1 thrashing of Uruguay.
The Italians are much more organised at the back than the South Americans were in Fortaleza last Saturday. All three of Costa Rica’s goals came from defensive mistakes – the Italians just don’t do mistakes in defence.
Andrea Pirlo has the ability to punish any team when given the time and Mario Balotelli has a good goalscoring record. Claudio Marchisio is a good threat from midfield whilst Antonio Candreva caused England a few problems.
Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne and the experienced Antonio Cassano aren’t exactly bad players to bring off the bench either. I expect Italy to all-but book their place in the second round with a victory on Friday.
Italy to beat Costa Rica 1.50
Argentina vs Iran
It was an unconvincing start from Argentina in their opening match against Bosnia & Herzegovina. Wasteful in attack throughout and struggling to maintain possession in the first half before switching tactics at half-time.
Once Lionel Messi netted a fine solo effort it was as if the shackles had been released and Argentina were hit by a boost of confidence. Then they got a bit lazy and conceded a goal.
These are one of two favourites for me to win the World Cup – but that’s based on their personnel more than their performance. For their last two group games I’m expecting two comfortable victories.
Iran will set up very defensively to try frustrate Argentina but with the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Agüero, Gonzalo Higuaín, Ángel di María, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Maxi Rodríguez and Ricky Álvarez they’re going to get opportunities and they’re going to score. Alejandro Sabella could probably get away with only playing 2 defenders too.
Argentina to beat Iran -2 goals 2.05
Germany vs Ghana
Germany were already 2-0 up on Portugal before Pepe was sent off for the opposition. Thomas Müller continued where he left off in 2010 and now has 8 goals in 7 World Cup matches.
Going forward this German side are up there with the best, arguably even the best at this World Cup. Defensively I still have some questions over the full backs. Portugal had a couple of opportunities both with 11 and 10 men, albeit they did have Cristiano Ronaldo in their team.
Ghana looked miserable in their 2-1 defeat to the USA. They saw lots of possession and barely created a chance. If they continue to cross the ball from the wings against Germany it will be heading practice for Per Mertesacker and Mats Hummels.
The African side looked woeful defending too so if both teams continue their form from their opener I can see this being another convincing win for the Germans.
Germany to beat Ghana -1.5 goals 1.75
If Germany do thrash Ghana their odds to win the tournament will drop so now is a good time to back them.
Germany to win the World Cup 4.50
bwin World Cup Blogger’s League
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.