World Cup First Look – The Main Contenders

We’re going to be talking about the World Cup a lot in a couple of months because it’s the most exciting betting opportunity of this summer. We’ll leave the detail until closer to the event, but over the next three days we’re going to take an initial look at how the tournament plays out. Today we’re going to look at the four top teams in the tournament. One of these four is very likely to win it all. Tomorrow we’ll look at five second tier teams – teams that could win it all if everything went absolutely perfectly for them. On Tuesday we’ll look at five no hope squads – teams that are getting a fair bit of attention,but which just aren’t going to win in my eyes. Without further ado:

Brazil (5/1)
– Brazil is the second favorite to win it all this year, and they are always one of the top one or two teams in the tournament. There’s no doubt that they are worthy of this price and attention. They won the Confederations Cup last year in impressive fashion, so they are clearly in top international form. Kaka is one of the world’s best and best named players, and Adriano and Luis Fabiano are the best striker combination in the world. Julio Cesar is one of the world’s top goalies as well. This is a stocked team. The only thing really holding them back from being favorites in my eyes is their draw. They are in the so-called Group of Death, so they are going to have to work harder in the round robin portion of the tournament than other teams, and that could lead to a tougher second round opponent than other teams face.

Spain (15/4)
– The Spaniards had an ugly upset loss to the U.S at the Confederations Cup last year, but they still won 15 other games last year and were named the top team in the world. This team has long been the San Jose Sharks of the soccer world – a wildly talented team that just can’t get their act together when it really matters. Heart-breakers. They have started to change that perception with a big win at Euro 2008, the world’s second toughest tournament, and they look to complete their re-birth here. There’s not one player on this team that stands out as the best in the world, but you could also argue that every one of their starters is in the top ten or so at their position in the world. Ridiculously deep and now battle tested, this team is going to be tough to beat.

England (6/1)
– England is becoming the new Spain after several disappointing performances – or failures to qualify – at major tournaments. This tournament is England’s chance to again prove that they deserve to be considered among the top soccer countries in the world. They made a major coaching change in 2007, and it has made all of the difference in terms of attitude and caliber of play. They crushed their opposition in World Cup qualifying, and they have the talent to go deep here. I’d put them on a lower level than the two teams ahead of them, but I like their depth, and if they can come in in the right mindset then they could certainly come out on top.

Argentina (15/2)
– Lionel Messi is probably the best player playing in Europe right now, so his presence certainly makes this team a contender. He doesn’t have to carry the load alone, either. Carlos Tevez is a spectacular striker, and Sergio Aguero is one of the best young players in the world. They also have Maradona, the best player of all time in many eyes, behind the bench. The biggest concern for this team, and the only thing that stops their odds from falling lower, is their play during qualifications. They looked disinterested and sluggish, and barely limped through a South American field that they should have dominated (along with Brazil, of course).

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