Because it’s always fun to break down Sports you literally have no idea about and don’t start for another 7 months.
I highly recommend reading this article from Nate Silver and his SPI. I’m not sure that his percentages are completely accurate, but its probably the most objective rating system out there for soccer(I could be pulling this out of my ass).
In my opinion, the World Cup can easily be handicapped by ridiculous methods similar to the Little League World Series. A few things that might mean the country is underrated:
-Do most Americans hate them?
-Can most Americans not find this country on a Map?
-Country is named
-You play soccer in a style that features even more diving and bitching than the average soccer team.
-Do not speak English.
-Multiple consecutive vowels are always a plus.
France, South Africa, Uruguay, Mexico
My first idea here was to look at France for a few reasons:
-This appears the casual soccer fan(Read: ME) to be a really easy group.
-Everyone hates France
-That scummy World Cup drawmaster hitting on Charlize Theron only doubled my hate for France.
-They are being ripped as a bunch of cheating bastards(read: TRUE) by about everyone I have seen on ESPN over the last two weeks.
Then, I checked the SPI from Mr. Silver and saw he had Uruguay higher. Considering, I’m pretty sure I could not locate them on a map of South America(?) I think that makes them an even better anti-pub pick.
They are sitting at +425 to win the group at 5dimes on Friday night, but for all possible picks at this point(7 months away) I need to be able to beat Pinny, and believe the line will go down. I do believe the line for Uruguay will go down(the people that can move the line probably pay attention to the SPI), but Pinny had +450. Uruguay is one of my favorite looks, but I’ll wait until June for that.
Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece
Argentina seems like they should be a pretty big favorite given their soccer pedigree. These other countries could be a pretty good luck come June, but nothing stands out as a good enough option at the moment.
England, USA, Slovenia, Algeria
Obviously the United States and England are going to get all the attention in this group. I think its generally a pretty good rule of thumb that countries 90% of Americans could not locate on a map are going to be a good look come June, but I’m not really sure it’s worth it now. The SPI has Algeria at 12% to win, which could be alright because 5dimes price of 16-1 is better than Pinny’s, but there is some homefield advantage for playing on Africa that I’m not sure I totally believe. USA also has a good price at 5dimes, but my gut feeling from events like the Ryder Cup says their is probably never value on an American team.
Germany, Serbia, Ghana, Australia
I have a hunch Germany will be a popular pick to win the whole thing, because I feel like everyone seemed to like them last time around(in Germany). SPI likes Serbia as a decent team and +390 at 5dimes seems really good. I’m not sure the 1.8% edge is worth it now, but this could be a great idea come June.
Netherlands, Denmark, Cameroon, Japan
First reaction when I saw this was take the Danes, but that may or may not be highly influenced by my affinity for Soren Hansen and Soren Kjeldsen. I checked, and their chances of playing were officially listed as: DOUBTFUL, so I’ll have to wait on that. Cameroon seems like a better idea, although not egregiously under-rated. The Japs might have the highest odds in the group, but they certainly aren’t getting any credit around here on Pearl Harbor Day.
Italy, New Zealand, Slovakia, Paraguay
Italy and their brand of diving metro-sexual soccer should be the most popular option to win this group. The other three fit into either the “We historically suck at Soccer” or “90% of American’s can’t locate them on a map” bins so they could be good options. Paraguay is a great option here, in that you can beat Pinny by over 2% and based on the SPI, I doubt they are going to be offered at a better price.
Paraguay to win Group F +400(risk .8)
Brazil, Ivory Coast, Portugal, Communist Korea
Look at those three teams and tell me who doesn’t belong. A qoute from Mr. Silver:
Can we call this a “Group of Death” when it contains North Korea — one of the worst teams ever to qualify for the World Cup?… There’s a decent chance that placement out of this group will be determined by goal differential, so expect the teams to really pile it on against North Korea. If we see a couple of 5-0 or 7-1 results in this stage, it’s liable to be here.
There’s something about “one of the worst teams to ever qualify” that piqued my interest. They are also a communist nation that everyone hates, so I think that is a plus. However, a low SPI, and the fact that they are not good at all, makes me think there isn’t any reason to jump on this boat early. Aside from that, Ivory Coast might be the best option, but the prominence of Didier Drogba(I’ve heard of him, although its debateable whether I can spell his first name) gives me the feeling that this will be the “cool sleeper pick of the tournament.”
Spain, Switzerland, Hondorus, Chile
Spain has been installed as the favorite overall, which is not surprising considering Brazil should face a much tougher trip through the round robin stage. Based on SPI, Chile should have a great shot of having value here, and 5dimes has a better price than Pinny, but the edge(based on SPI) is not big enough to start off with to wait 7 months. Chile is definitely on my radar, though I am dismayed that I can find it on a map.
I think Uruguay is the best bet to win(Odds on Friday night: 129(5dimes), 110(Pinny), 66(Greek)). They have the best ranking in the SPI in their group, a relatively easy group, and an easy round of 16 potential match-up if they can win the group. For me, that was enough to take right now with the incredibly small juice that 5dimes is offering.
Paraguay to win Group F +400(risk .8)
Uruguay to win the World Cup +12900(risk .6)