With some surprises for the big teams and some interesting matchups coming up in the World Cup group stage, here is a look at Groups E-H and the updated odds for the teams to advance (all odds from Pinnacle):
The Netherlands needed an own goal by Denmark to get things going, but they didn’t disappoint in their opener. The Oranje beat the Scandinavians 2-0 and find themselves at the top of the group. I can’t see them losing to either Japan or Cameroon, and they should take the group easily.
Japan surprised with their victory over Cameroon and put itself in a great position to advance from Group E. I had Cameroon and the Netherlands advancing before the start of the tournament, but Cameroon is in a tough position now, as they will most likely lose to the Netherlands.
If Japan can get a point out of the matchup with Denmark – and right now I see them as the favorite to win that game – it has basically qualified for the Round of 16. There is not a lot of value in this group, unless you think Cameroon can recover and Japan will struggle. In that case, a $414 return for your $100 bet would be a nice profit.
I don’t see this happening though. I think Holland will take the group and Japan will advance as runner-up.
As I had expected, Italy struggled in their matchup with Paraguay. For a while it looked like Paraguay had a shot at beating the defending champions, but the Italians recovered with a late goal by Daniele De Rossi.
Italy and Paraguay are the favorites to advance from this group. The winner of the group will most likely be determined by the margin of victory in Italy and Paraguay’s matches against New Zealand and Slovakia.
After seeing the Kiwis and Slovakia play, I can’t see either of the two favorites struggle against the two bottom feeders in the group. Slovakia has the best chance of surprising, but I don’t think it will happen.
Italy is still the favorite to win the group, but I could see Paraguay taking it. Both teams play a defensive style and they most likely won’t score big in their remaining matches. It could come down to one goal in the goal difference or even the number of goals scored to determine the winner.
Paraguay offers decent value to win the group at +200. If you think I’m completely wrong here, and Slovakia can make the comeback and advance, check out Pinnacle’s line at +224.
The Group of Death still has a lot of potential for the rest of the Group stage. Brazil did what it had to do and beat North Korea, but they looked far from the dominant team everyone was expecting after their strong showing in the qualifying stage. They had a hard time beating lowly North Korea and seemed to lack communication.
Ivory Coast drew with Portugal and left the group wide open. Didier Drogba made an appearance, but wasn’t the game changer the Elephants hoped he would be. Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo showed flashes of his brilliance, but was otherwise mostly seen diving and whining about the referee’s calls.
With Portugal and the Ivory Coast still having to face Brazil, a lot can happen in this group. They should both be able to beat North Korea, and the final standings in this group will most likely come down to their matchups with the record world champion.
Portugal will have a slight advantage, as it will play Brazil in their final match. The Portuguese will know how the Ivory Coast will have fared in their game against the Selecao, and Portugal will be able to adjust their strategy accordingly. Nevertheless, anything is possible in this group, even Brazil losing to one of the two teams in pursuit.
The odds for teams to advance from the group don’t hold a lot of value, but a surprise winner other than Brazil could score you some nice cash. In my opinion, Ivory Coast has just as good of a shot at beating the Brazilians as Portugal has, so the Elephants’ odds at +527 hold more value than Portugal’s at +400.
Spain got itself in big trouble by losing its opener to Switzerland. The Red Fury needs to win its remaining matches against Chile and Honduras. The Spanish squad can’t afford another slip-up, and I don’t expect them to have another one. The Swiss with their relentless defense, while technically not the second best team in the group, might have been the toughest matchup for the Spaniards.
Chile took care of business against Honduras and created a lot of scoring chances. However, they need to improve on converting those chances if they want to challenge Spain. The Chileans have a chance of winning the group thanks to Spain’s struggles against Switzerland. Chile and Spain will meet in the final match of the group, and this matchup could decide the group winner. But the group is there for the taking.
Switzerland put itself in a position to advance or even win the group. They haven’t conceded a goal in five straight World Cup matchups, and Ottmar Hitzfeld’s defensive strategy seems to play out once again. The Swiss advanced to the Round of 16 four years ago thanks to a rock-solid defense and great goalkeeping.
Honduras stays at the bottom of the group, and they are probably the only team without a shot at advancing.
The odds for advancing from the group don’t offer particularly great value. The only interesting line would take a huge surprise with Spain failing to advance. This will get you $264 for your $100 bet, but I think Spain will recover and get back into contention for the group.
At this point Pinnacle doesn’t offer odds for winning the group, but 5Dimes does. They see Switzerland as the +133 favorite to end up on top of Group H, but I’m not sure if I agree. While there is a possibility that they will grind out a group win, I would look at Chile for the top position after the group stage. They offer the best value at +250. And even Spain at +205 is an interesting pick.
Anything is possible now that Spain lost to Switzerland and this will be a fun group to follow, whether you have money riding on it or not.