It’s looking like a fantastic summer of sport, the highlight of course being the World Cup in Brazil. I’ll start by saying the easiest way to make money from the world cup is likely to be by looking out for special offers and bookmaker specials, they’ll no doubt be pulling out all of the stops to attract custom on what will likely be the biggest football betting event to date.
But looking at it from this point, at the ante-post markets and likely odds come the start, there’s some angles that I think will pay.
World Cup – Spain
Spain. You’d never have guessed it would you. But hear me out. The best bets are those that pay and Spain have paid out for the last three major tournaments running, an achievement that makes them most successful international team in history. They’ve not conceded a single goal in the knock-out stages of the last three major tournaments. That’s an incredible stat and one that’s very much worth remembering. Also, of the handful of teams that did score against them in the opening group stages none found the net twice. They’ve essentially got the same core of the team, albeit a little older and the bonus of Diego Costa who should be fit up front. Yes no European team has won in this part of the world, but the brand of keep ball Spain play will certainly suit in the heat.
So, no doubt you’ll read many other cases for the other sides with World Cup hopes but with the current Champs fourth in the betting at 13/2, that looks big enough for me.
Its also worth bearing in mind the amount of shut outs Spain have delivered. They continued this trend letting in just three goals in their qualifying campaign – so the “under 1.5 goals” and “Spain to win to Nil” along with “no goalscorer” are all bets worth close consideration this summer when Spain take the field.
If you bet Spain @ 13/2 with Coral – for upto £25 – they will refund your stake (as a free bet) should Argentina or Brazil win the World Cup. This is a cracking offer as it’s almost as good as a free bet on Spain given that you’ll have three of the first four in the betting covered.
World Cup – England
This is not a bet to follow but just a general recommendation NOT to back England, the bookies in the UK fully expect and will see a lot of cash for England , whatever prices they put up. Making them likely to offer no value at any point. I’ll be looking to lay England whenever they appear short enough in the betting, particularly late on in matches, when the heat may affect them more so. (Expect the usual excuses of too much football etc. etc.) Basically at world level England do not have the quality to compete with the very best teams.
Tour de France
Arguably more interesting than the GC battle this year will be the battle of the sprinters.
Mark Cavendish will be all over stages 1 and 3 which look set for bunch finishes. Its a chance of a lifetime for him to pull on the Yellow jersey on home turf in Yorkshie on stage one (yes I know he’s from the IOM not Yorkshire!) , and another unique opportunity to win on the Mall on stage three and vanquish the memory of the 2012 Olympic road race. Mark and his team will throw everything at these two stages.
One big problem for them though – Marcel Kittel.
This fella is now widely recognised as the fastest man in the peleton having upstaged Cavendish by winning four stages in the tour last year including the blue ribbon final stage.
Worryingly for Cavendish it seems he’s improved.
He looked head and shoulders above the other sprinters when adding another two grand tour stages to his palmares at the Giro recently whilst Cavendish was eeking out narrow wins in the Tour of California against Kittel’s lead out man and Giant-Shimano 2nd string John Degenkolb. Cavendish once accused his competitors of picking up just “shit small wins”, well the boot appears on the other foot now with Cavendish apparently ducking Kittel at the Giro and picking up “shit small wins” of his own!
The betting for stages one and three of the tour has the two about joint favourites, which I cant have as right, considering Cavendish can only just about beat Kittel’s lead out man in a photo. The other consideration is of course the lead outs themselves, and Giant Shimano is the only 100% sprint focused team, its a well oiled machine that is reminiscent of the Cavendish’s own lead out that he used to enjoy at HTC and when it works stage wins become mere formalities.
So the strategy here is simple, back Kittel for stage wins.
He can be backed at 13/8 for stage 1, and 11/8 for stage 3 at this point, but look out for Stage 21 prices closer to the start of the tour. (Along with likely bunch finish stages during the tour: 6,9,11,15,19)
If Kittel does lose out on the first stage his odds for stage 3 may actually drift, however in reality the team will be more focused and determined and if that happens I’d probably be looking to double down on him at that point. These opening sprint stages may be split between Cav and Kittel, or Kittel could nick both, but I don’t see Cavendish taking both of them unless something happens to Kittel.
The Green jersey or points classification is closely related to the aforementioned sprinters battle. Yet neither of the pair are favourite as Peter Sagan, the winner of the competition for the last two years running, takes that tag.
Sagan cannot match the all out pace to regularly beat Cav or Kittel in a straight up sprint, but he can consistently be up there and has the capacity to stay in the lead group on all but the highest mountain stages. This means he picks up much more points than the others and he’s rightfully favourite once again.
The fly in the ointment here is the possibility that the 2011 Green Jersey winner, Mark Cavendish, may be forced to launch a challenge for Green to appease his employers, if his previous tactic of just focusing on stage wins gets nullified as seems likely by a rampant Kittel. Alongside that threat is the possibility that the sheer number of outright stage wins could land Kittel the prize, even if he’s nowhere on a whole bunch of stages. I’m of the opinion that the out and out sprinters will only go for Green if they find themselves with a nice lead in the competition or with little else to go for. Sagan on the other hand will surely fight all the way to Paris for this, every single day if need be. With Sagan unlikely to score well over the first three stages, I’m gonna try and get better than the current 10/11 on offer at once the Tour is under way.
The outright winner market is headed up by last years winner Froome who is odds on, followed by a returning to form previous winner in the shape of Alberto Contador.
Contador is a dark horse for me as I’m not so sure he’s entirely back to his best, and Froome is no price at 4/5. The one that stands out for me is the 2013 Giro winner Vincenzo Nibali.
I defy anyone that watches cycling not to be a fan of the Italian who is never afraid to attack. But aside from being a fan you have to look at the facts, and Nibali as been on the podium in 6 of the last 7 Grand Tours he’s ridden. He was dominant in winning his 2nd Grand Tour when taking the Giro last year and I believe he’s one that is saving his best for July. All this for adds up to a cracking each way bet at the current 8/1 with Paddypower.
He was don’t forget the only rider to get within 10 mins of Froome and Wiggins (TT specialists) in the Time Trial heavy 2012 tour, and with this tour having the least amount of time trialling of any tour since 1934, along with more uphill and downhill finishes than you can shake a stick at, it looks a parcours made for Nibbles.
Nibali lines up with some of the other “big favourites” at the Dauphiné staring on the 8th June, if he starts to show form there then the 8/1 wont be around for long. If he doesn’t then for me we’ll still have a worthwhile each way bet come the tour.
The Spain/Nibali double pays 67.5 with Paddypower, and can be backed each way.