World Cup 2014 Group A Betting is heading towards little surprise as to who the top two will be. Who will claim the all important automatic qualification spot for Brazil 2014 though, does remain up in the air. The exciting young and talented Belgian side, along with the organised technical qualities of Croatia, both made very strong starts to the Group A qualification. Both were undefeated after four matches played and shared a point each when they met. So there looks to be little to split the two strong forces in the group, although Belgium, with their inherent talent epitomised in Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, have shaded things most of the way as favourites to take the group.
But the challenge of Croatia is unlikely to fade away too quickly. The Croats failed to get out of their group at Euro 2012 behind Spain and Italy, but gave good accounts of themselves and looked to have built on that experience. Qualification for the 2014 World Cup will be a big step forward after failing to make it to South Africa 2010. Belgium likewise missed out on the 2010 World Cup, so a chance to appear on the world stage again is a big lure for both of them. Showing strong hands over the early stages of the group, it is going to take a very strong turnaround in form from any of the chasing pack to have an influence in the qualification race.
Serbia perhaps, who finished bottom of their group at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, poses the biggest threat. They have an excellent work rate through their side and great technical ability. However, a weakened defence could ultimately be their downfall in the race to book a spot at Brazil 2014. With just one win from their first four games, it will be crucial for them to take points off Belgium and Croatia. With both of the big two to come on home soil, there could be a decent outside chance for Serbia.
Sitting in the same boat as Belgium is Macedonia, who need a rapid upward swing in form. Macedonia, a relatively young side in world football, have never been able to make it through to a major final, failing in all of their previous attempts at the European Championships and the World Cup. Can they make history for themselves this time around? If the do so then it will be an outside shot given their start and the power of Belgium and Croatia. British duo Wales and Scotland, both with very poor starts to qualifying, look as if they will struggle to get anywhere in the picture.
Who is trending towards football league action next season in Blue Square Premier betting? Grimsby have been one of the front runners for most of the season and they look as if they are going to at least be securing a promotion spot. Only the top side in the division will get a spot in League Two for the following season, while teams two through five will have to battle it out through a play off. Grimsby’s projected this success will all be based on their defence, which has stood head and shoulders above everyone else in the Blue Square Premier this season. There has been little to slow the progress of Grimsby this term, but still they are likely to come under some pressure. Grimsby are trading as favourites to win the Blue Square Premier outright and are likewise at short odds in the To Be Promoted market.
Notably the strengths of the chasing pack to scrap for the automatic promotion spot are going to come from the Welsh duo of Wrexham and Newport. Both have shown enough form over the season, especially going forward, to put together a run to halt Grimsby’s title winning plans. Wrexham have proven to have the better of the two defences between themselves and Newport and as the pressure comes on during the end of season run in, that could be a crucial factor in their progress. The bookmakers are most worried about Wrexham catching Grimsby in the title race, with the Welsh side trading as second favourites. Their defensive qualities should put them in a good stead in a play off race.
Newport, despite some great offensive power have struggled defensively in the league this season and that may catch up with them at some point. Still, they could have the balance to be in with a shot through the play offs. It is the defensive concerns that has put Newport behind Grimsby, Wrexham and Luton in both the Blue Square Premier Outright Winner market and the Blue Square Premier To Be Promoted market. How long can Newport’s potent forwards cover up for a weak defence?
As for Luton, the listed odds at bookmakers are suggesting that they will be in the thick of a play off race at the end of the season. Luton have been in the play offs for the last three seasons running and have battled through to the play off final for the last two seasons running. It has been tales of close calls for them, losing out 2-1 to York last season in the play off final, and being denied in a penalty shoot out against AFC Wimbledon the season before that. So they have had promotion to League Two in their hands, it has just kept slipping though. But will that play off experience pay off in the long run for them?
There is a good chase for the four play off spots in the Blue Square Premier promotion race, and therefore there is good value in looking at the To Be Promoted market. Things are likely to remain tightly packed and with strong trending teams like Mansfield capable of stringing together a run to the top five, the race should go down to the wire.
What will the winning nationality of the 2012/13 Champions League be? This is an interesting betting market which can provide a great deal of value. Naturally the onus will be on Spain delivering a champion, with the forces to come in the last sixteen from favourites Barcelona and the threats of Real Madrid. But not only that, there are the added Spanish factors of Valencia and the tremendous story of Malaga, the latter making it through to the knockout stage impressively in their debut season in Uefa’s top club competition.
So it is only natural that Spain will be trading as favourites in the Nationality of the 2012/13 Champions League Winners Betting, because not only do they genuinely have two of the strongest sides, numbers are on their side too. Heading to the stage of the last sixteen, Spanish teams were making up a quarter of the remaining teams in the competition.
But there is value outside of Spain, because the two La Liga giants both fell at the semi final stage last season. Not only that, Spain have delivered on just two of the last five season, and on just three occasions in the last ten Champions League finals. So that means that other European leagues have had their fair share of things when it comes to producing a Champions League winner.
Germany look to be the best shot behind Spain because of their two representatives. Bayern Munich have been immense in the Bundesliga this season with a remarkable defense and last year’s losing finalists have the potential to go one better than they did in May 2012. Alongside them, the reigning German Champions Borussia Dortmund, are a side that many won’t want to meet in the Champions League, having a strong balanced side.
England lost two of their four representatives in the group stage; holders Chelsea and Premier League champions Manchester City falling by the wayside. That left Manchester United and Arsenal flying the flag for England in the knockout stage. But with both of them being given very tough draws in the round of 16, the potential of an English winner could be dramatically reduced. England have produced two winners in the last five season though, and only one of the last eight Champions League finals have not had an English representative in the final itself.
Italy may be looking more value for people in being able to produce a Champions League winner this season, and all attention there will be firmly on Juventus. They are the dominant power on the domestic front in Italy and impressive group stage performances over Chelsea, combined with a kind draw (against Glasgow Celtic) in the round of 16 could make the country value. Fellow Serie A side AC Milan received the worst draw possible though in the round of sixteen after being paired with Real Madrid.
So it could be a numbers game for Spain in the Market. Germany aside, the other top nations really look to only have one genuine challenger. As England will probably be relying on Manchester United and Italy on Juventus, France only have the big spending Paris St Germain to rely on. Can Zlatan Ibrahimovic fire them to success, or is just a matter of Spain to reign?
Spain have produced the most European Cup winners (13), closely followed by Italy and England (12). Germany and the Netherlands are way back on 6 each.