The World’s biggest sporting event is set to kick off tomorrow with a match between host South Africa and Mexico. The World Cup offers a lot of excitement and gives the casual soccer bettor a chance to spice up some of the matches.
We at Maddux Sports always look for value in sports betting, and we found some matchups that you don’t want to miss in this year’s tournament.
Uruguay vs. France (June 11, 2:30pm ET)
One of the most interesting matches for a bettor comes on the first day of the tournament. Perennial powerhouse France goes into the matchup as the favorite, but they have been on the decline lately. They had big problems in the qualifying stage and needed a favorable call on Thierry Henry’s handball goal in their playoff against Ireland.
They are missing their leader Zinedine Zidane sorely. The 37-year-old retired after head-butting Italy’s Marco Materazzi in a 5-3 shootout loss in the 2006 Final. France shockingly suffered a 1-0 defeat in their final warm-up against China.
The French are known for their lackadaisical play and were eliminated after the group stage in the 2002 World Cup without winning a match. Their lack of urgency might be a chance for underdog Uruguay to pull off a win Friday.
Uruguay surprised Paraguay, beating them 2-0 in a qualifier. They gave Argentina a heck of a fight in two qualifying matches, losing both 2-1. They have been playing great soccer lately and they have a good chance of beating or at least drawing with France.
5Dimes has the most favorable odds if you believe in Uruguay, offering a +274 moneyline a win by the underdog. They run a draw at +231.
USA vs. England (June 12, 2:30pm ET)
Let me explain. This is far from a lock for the US, but the English squad tends to struggle at the World Cup and there is some definite value on the underdog, especially at Pinnacle, which most likely has to make up for the high volume on England from international bettors. They offer the USA at +645 and a draw at +335.
Again, there is a reason why England are the favorite, but these odds don’t reflect the actual chances of the teams. England have been playing great leading up to the World Cup, going 9-0-1 in the qualifying stage. However, they have done this before, and they always struggle with the pressure they put on themselves in the final tournament. They struggle to keep their nerves in check and are prone to unexpected losses or draws.
The Unites States have nothing to lose going into this match and this position as the underdog could allow them to surprise the Three Lions with an early goal. If that happens, anything is possible Saturday.
Italy vs. Paraguay (June 14, 2:30pm ET)
The Italians have slowed down noticeably since winning the title four years ago. The four-time champions drew with Ireland in a qualifier and escaped a scare against lowly Cypruss, coming back from a 2-0 deficit on a hat-trick by Alberto Gilardino.
The Squadra Azzura drew with Cameroon and Switzerland and lost to Mexico in their final friendlies leading up to the World Cup. They don’t look as dominating as they did in their 2006 title run, and they could lose to an up-and-coming Paraguay Monday.
Paraguay’s side has shown it can run with the big dogs, when it beat heavy favorite Argentina 1-0 in a qualifier in 2009. They play a very defensive style and will hope to start a strong counter attack with Roque Santa Cruz.
5Dimes has Paraguay as the +335 underdog, and that bet offers exceptional value. And a draw at +224 is definitely worth a look.
Portugal vs. Ivory Coast (June 15, 10:00am ET)
This will be an exciting match to watch no matter if you have money riding on it or not. Portugal has played electrifying soccer in the last two big tournaments and finished fourth at the 2006 World Cup and second at Euro 2008.
They face the strongest African team in the tournament in the Ivory Coast. The Elephants play an exciting style of soccer and rely heavily on their offense. They thought they had lost their most dangerous player, striker Didier Drogba, to a fractured arm, but it looks like he will be ready to play. It remains to be seen whether Drogba can be as effective as manager Sven-Goran Eriksson would like him to be.
With or without Drogba at 100 percent, the Ivory Coast has a good shot at surprising Portugal. The Elephants are the underdog at +262 (Pinnacle), but I don’t see them that far behind. The +232 price for a draw offers exceptional value.
Ghana vs. Australia (June 19, 10:00am ET)
Ghana comes into the game as the favorite, but they are missing their star midfielder Michael Essien. He suffered the injury while practicing with the team for the African Cup of Nations. He was supposed to spark the attack with his strong play, but the team will also miss his tackling and the energy he brings to the pitch.
Australia surprised at the 2006 World Cup in Germany and almost eliminated Italy in the Round of 16. They could capitalize on the weak link in the Ghanaian midfield, as they will have more room to unfold their attack.
Pinnacle offers you $233 for your $100 bet, if the Socceroos beat the Black Stars. The price of a draw still holds great value at +220 (Pinnacle and Bodog).