Monthly Archives: June 2014

Argentina v Switzerland | Betting Preview and Tips

Argentina v Switzerland | Betting Preview and Tips

The seventh match of the knockout stages will be played on Tuesday 1st July between the much loved Lionel Messi’s Argentina side and the under the radar Switzerland side.

Argentina topped group F with a perfect three wins in three games. Switzerland, on the other hand, won their first and last games, with a heavy defeat against France sandwiched in between.

The La Albiceleste have been riding on the Messi juggernaut, who has scored in all the three matches (only Colombia’s James Rodriguez has scored in all games and bettered him).

Against Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina, he scored winners and was at his Barcelona-best against Nigeria. Other than Messi only Angel di Maria seemed to have carried his club form into the tournament while others look pedestrian at their best.

The defence is a real concern with Javier Mascherano the lone holding midfielder there’s always a possibility of getting exposed on the counter as all the wingers and forwards tend to swarm in the opposition one-third, leaving acres of space behind with less midfielders to cover the spaces and mark the opposition midfielders.

Against Nigeria, this flaw was exposed as the Nigerian midfielders overloaded the midfield and Ahmed Musa getting the space to run at the Argentine defence.

Switzerland has the same problems with respect to the defence, evident from their match against Ecuador (which they luckily escaped with a win) and the absolute humiliation by France with the calamitous center-back pairing of Johan Djourou and Philipe Senderos the cause for the defensive concerns.

Up top, Xherdan Shaqiri in the no.10 role (just behind the striker) and Josep Drmic’s linkup play has improved the Swiss attack.

Shaqiri was underwhelming in the first two games, but silenced his critics against Honduras with a fine hat-trick. His overall ability to change games is very much important to the Switzerland’s fortunes; we can say he’s the Swiss equivalent of Messi.

The game should be decided on how well Switzerland’s Gokhan Inler and Valon Behrami are able to nullify Messi’s presence when he decides to drop deep to carry the ball.

Di Maria’s runs on the left should give Stephan Lichtsteiner something to think about and be more defensive minded than he usually has been in the tournament. Switzerland’s Granit Xhaka’s shift as the right midfielder hasn’t been so fruitful and he’s more of a liability than an asset.

Fernando Gago has been subdued this tournament considering his talents and should be up for a good showing against the Swiss.

If Switzerland wants to get something from the game, they have to employ high pressing against Argentina to make them commit mistakes, although this tournament Switzerland have employed more of a reserved approach in pressing the opposition.

If this remains the case, Argentina should have a jolly good time in slicing them apart. The Argentina attack looked sharp in the last group game against Nigeria and their form will be crucial.

Argentina to win: 1/2 (bet365)
Both teams to score: 37/40 (BetVictor)
Lavezzi to be anytime scorer: 40/17 (Unibet)

Belgium v USA | Betting Preview and Tips

Belgium v USA | Betting Preview and Tips

Belgium will face USA in the last match of the Round of 16 in the ongoing FIFA World Cup. The match will be played at the Mangabeira stadium in Salvador de Bahia on Tuesday, July 1.

It was a great run that took Belgium through to the Round of 16 in the group stage, which saw the Red Devils win all three games. The USA on the other hand, had to make it into the second round the hard way.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s USA team drew 2-2 against Portugal and defeated Ghana 2-1 to qualify as the second best from Group G with four points before they were beaten by Germany in their final game in the round.

The Belgians had come from behind to win their Group H opener against Algeria 2-1 while a couple of 1-0 wins over Russia and then South Korea saw Marc Wilmots’ men qualify as group leaders. Given the results and the fact that Belgium had entered the competition as one of the dark horses this World Cup, it’s no surprise that they are overwhelming favourites to win this Round of 16 fixture against the USA bet365 offering odds of 1/1 on the possibility.

Wilmots has a group of excellent defenders playing for him currently which is exhibited from the fact that the Belgians managed clean sheets in their matches against Russia and South Korea.

Although neither of the two teams possessed much threat in attack, the likes of Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen must be given credit for the manner in which the team has defended.

Senior pro Daniel Van Buyten has also been outstanding alongside the Manchester City skipper, who made the Premier League Team of the Year last season following some terrific displays as City were crowned Premier League champions in England.

Belgium also have a fantastic group of attacking midfielders which includes Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Dries Mertens, and Kevin Mirallas who have turned in some good performances for the national team so far. They also have some great options from the bench as Marouane Fellaini and Divock Origi has shown in the group stages while Romelu Lukaku is a proven striker in English football.

Lukaku is 6/1 to open the scoring this game while Eden Hazard is second favourite with odds of 8/1 on Coral.

USA have arguably the fittest side among the 32 that were competing at the World Cup in Brazil. The problem with this team is that they tend to concede as many goals as their attackers can conjure. Clint Dempsey is clearly their best bet in front of goal which is also demonstrated by the fact that BetVictor have him at 19/2 to open the score on the evening – the most popular bet in this particular market by a country-mile.

Jermaine Jones has also looked good in front of goal and in his overall game as he continues to play a major role for his side. Jones caused the Germans more than one problem in their last Group G game. The side ideally need to be compact defensively and try to attack on the break against the Belgians to have a good chance.

However, the fact that their opponents play a deep line of defence will not help their cause. Creating chances is something that this USA team need to improve upon if they harbour any hopes of making the quarter-finals.

Belgium to win 1-0 (6/1 at Ladbrokes) and 2-0 (9/1 at BetVictor) are the ones that warrant attention as far as the market for the correct scores is concerned.

Belgium to win: 21/20 (BetVictor)
Winning margin, 1 goal: 9/10 (Betway)

Germany v Algeria | Betting Preview and Tips

Germany v Algeria | Betting Preview and Tips

Germany will face Algeria as the teams battle in the Round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil.

The momentous match, which will decide who goes through to the quarter-finals, will be played at the Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre on Monday, June 30.

This game is expected to be a fierce battle between two teams who go back a long way. For in Spain in 1982, the Germans did not do their homework and dismissed the African side on the eve of their game. Algeria beat a West German side boasting the likes of Paul Breitner and Karl Heinz Rummenigge on a 2-1 score-line which shocked the nation.

So scared were the Germans of Algeria that they contrived with the Austrians to somehow oust the Algerians from the World Cup as both sides literally stopped playing post the 80th minute of that disgraceful match as Horst Hrubesch’s 10th minute strike suited both teams fine.

This will be a fantastic opportunity for Algeria to set the record straight and get some payback for some of their opponent’s dirty tricks all those years ago in Spain.

While the Germans have breezed into the second round with two wins and a draw in the Group stage, the Algerians have qualified the hard way after having to win their last Group H match against Russia.

Germany started their tournament with a bang as Thomas Muller’s hat-trick inspired them to a 4-0 victory over a hapless Portugal. But they were held by Ghana 2-2 in the next match, which they were on course to lose up until the moment when Miroslav Klose came onto the pitch and changed the whole dynamic of the game as he scored from close range.

Qualification as group leaders was guaranteed when they defeated former coach Juergen Klinsmann’s USA 1-0 in their last match in the group stage.

Algeria had started their campaign with a disappointing 2-1 loss to Belgium after having led for the majority of the match. However, they struck back with vengeance against the Korea Republic, whom they beat 4-2. In the final game of the group stage, Algeria struck late in the game through an Islam Slimani header which clinched qualification to the second round.

The Germans will look to start Klose from the start against Algeria as he again proved against the USA that the kind of penetration and contribution that he makes towards the team cannot be replicated by another player. Mario Gotze, Thomas Muller, and Mesut Ozil should complete the four man attack for the Germans. Muller at 37/10 (888Sport) and Klose at 4/1 (bet365) are the favourites to open the scoring for the Germans.

Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger look set to start in the middle of the park. Joachim Loew has not tinkered with his defence so far in this tournament and it is unlikely that he will do so in a knock-out game and hence, the usual back four can expect to start with Manuel Neuer in goal.

Algeria will be looking to Sofiane Feghouli for all the inspiration on the right side of the pitch as Vahid Halilhodzic’s side prepare for one momentous battle on Monday.

Slimani has scored a couple of goals in this World Cup and is Algeria’s leading scorer at the ongoing tournament. Riyad Mahrez at 22/1 (bet365) and Saphir Taider at 25/1 (PaddyPower) are the most popular bets to open the scoring for Algeria.

Tottenham youngster Nabil Bentaleb will be tasked with keeping the ball moving in the middle of the park and provide steel and he will have Mehdi Lacen for company. Algeria will however need to defend out of their skins in order to have any chance against the Germans. Having conceded five goals in the group stages shows that their defence is not up to scratch and this is an area which will need a lot of work.

Germany are 7/20 to win at Youwin while almost all leading bookmakers are offering 3/10 on that possibility and it’s difficult to see Germany not win this one despite having habitually choked in the World Cup knock-outs.

Over 2.5 goals: 3/5 (BetVictor)
Both teams to score and Germany to win: 11/5 (Betway)

France v Nigeria | Betting Preview and Tips

France v Nigeria | Betting Preview and Tips

The fifth fixture in the knockout stage will be played between the irresistible French team and the not-so-favourites, Nigeria. France have had a great group qualification while Nigeria qualified courtesy a few favours from the other teams in their group.

France’s World Cup qualification campaign wasn’t smooth and they stuttered along the way. Ultimately they had to overcome a determined Ukraine team in the qualification playoffs (Result: 1st leg – Lost 2:0, 2nd leg – Won 3:0) in order to qualify for the finals.

Since then they seemed to have turned a corner. The disjointed and divided French team of 2010 World Cup was nowhere to be seen, coach Didier Deschamps has picked team players rather than big egos.

His exclusion of Manchester City’s Samir Nasri hasn’t proved to be a regretful decision even in the wake of their star, Frank Ribery’s injury. The team is now performing as a well-oiled unit, much more efficiently than the Germans (who are known for their effective displays).

Nigeria hardly have been the talking point in terms of their World Cup winning credentials. But on the back of an impressive 2013 where they lifted the African Cup of Nations, the fan expectations back home were high.

After the first match, where they drew against Iran, the coach and the team received a lot of flak from the Nigerian fans for their perceived lack of effort on the pitch.

In the next two matches – despite their defeat to Argentina, they improved a lot and finally seemed to have found their feet. Their coach, Stephen Keshi will be happy with the improvement shown by his players.

The game looks to be the classic encounter with France with their potent attacking talent looking for the kill from the start and Nigeria with a more compact structure, hitting them on the counter.

Nigeria’s counterattacking strength should not be neglected as they showed against Argentina that they just need space to exploit and do the damage (both Nigerian goals were scored by Ahmed Musa and both started off from a counter).

Nigeria will be looking towards John Obi Mikel and Ogenyi Onazi as the two holding midfielders to stop the likes of Mathieu Valbuena from making sumptuous pass behind them to feed their strikers. France’s right hand side looks a suspect, with Mathieu Debuchy leaving lots of space behind him when attacking as Yohann Cabaye in anchor role cannot cover space with additional responsibility of covering for the forward/wingers.

France have a very good squad and the starting XI looks settled. Valbuena’s form will be crucial as he’s the brain of this cavalier French side.

Against the Swiss, playing Karim Benzema as the centre forward and Oliver Giroud as the second striker reaped dividends as they bamboozled the Swiss defence. will they repeat that same tactic against the Nigerians too? One needs to see but one way or the other, they will be overwhelming favourites for this one.

Both teams to score: 11/10 (Boylesports)
Over 2.5 goals to be scored: 10/11 (Coral)

Costa Rica v Greece | Betting Preview and Tips

Costa Rica v Greece | Betting Preview and Tips

Costa Rica will face Greece in their round of 16 encounter at the FIFA World Cup 2014 as the two teams clash at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife on Sunday, June 29 for this hotly anticipated encounter.

Costa Rica have surprised everyone at the World Cup by topping Group D – which was often termed as the Group of Death. They were being viewed as rank outsiders in a group which had four-time world champions Italy, two-time world champions Uruguay, and the 1966 champions England.

However, the Costa Ricans produced some scintillating, exciting football as they won against Uruguay (3-1) and Italy (1-0) before holding England to a goalless draw as the qualified as leaders.

The Greeks on the other hand have not had it easy as they were outdone by Colombia and only managed a goalless draw against Japan.

However, Greece were able to defeat Ivory Coast 2-1 following an injury time penalty by Giorgios Samaras and they narrowly edged out their opponents to the second spot in the Group C.

The Costa Ricans have captured the imagination of millions of people across the globe who are in love with the beautiful game by the manner in which they have gone about their business on the pitch so far.

There is absolutely no half-heartedness in the way they play. The team press as a whole to get the ball back when they lose it while whenever they have managed to break away, the do so at great speed and with midfielders bombing forward from the middle as well.

In a day and age when all teams have approached the big tournaments very tentatively, fearing a loss rather than going for victory, it is refreshing to see a team come out and attack the way Costa Rica have this year although they do not boast one single world class player like a Messi or a Ronaldo.

The team have been top draw with Brian Ruiz being the man with the golden touch in this team. The Costa Rican skipper has shown exceptional vision on the pitch and scored the solitary goal against the Azzuris which ensured qualification for his team. Ruiz is 8/1 to open the scoring while Joel Campbell is 7/1 (SkyBet) on that count.

Greece have had a stop-start tournament, to say the least, and are lucky to have made the second round. Up until the moment when Samaras put the penalty away, it was the Africans who were going to go through.

They have scored only half as many goals as they have let in in their World Cup campaign this time around which reads for pretty poor statistics. Fulham striker Konstantinos Mitroglou is the favourite to open the scoring for the Greeks with Betfair offering odds of 8/1 on the possibility.

Although their Portuguese coach has gone in with most of his attackers on the pitch right from the very off in all their three matches so far, it is pretty clear that the tactic has not paid off. Also, it is now too late in the day to adopt a new game plan against a rampaging Costa Rica team which has a point to prove now that they have made it into the big time.

Costa Rica are 13/8 favourites to win at Betfred which is the most popular bet in this market while punters could be looking for a 0-0 draw for the 90 minutes with Ladbrokes and Coral both offering 6/1 on that score.

Personally I feel Greece’s best chance is to defend and defend hard for long periods of time before looking to attack on the counter. However, if they concede an early goal, this tactic could go out of the window, and we might see a lot more goals.

Greece to qualify: 11/10 (Ladbrokes)
I see one of these four results – 1-0 to either team, 0-0 (6/1 at Ladbrokes) or 1-1 (6/1 at Ladbrokes) after 90 minutes being possible results for this one.

Netherlands v Mexico | Betting Preview and Tips

Netherlands v Mexico | Betting Preview and Tips

The third knockout game in the round of 16 in the 2014 World Cup will be played between Netherlands and Mexico on Sunday, June 29. The group A toppers and Group B runners-up will lock horns in an intense battle to qualify for the quarter-finals at the Estadio Castelao Fortaleza.

Netherlands have a spotless record in the group stages, winning all their matches, and it’s worth noting that they had to face teams like Spain and Chile.

Their opening fixture against Spain, touted to be a grudge match, saw them humiliate the defending champions 5-1. They carried their World Cup qualification form – a fluid, goal-scoring one into the group stages.

The form of Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben has seen them score important goals and providing much needed bite to a slightly inexperienced side in recent years. The three-man defence by Louis Van Gaal has been successful this tournament and he’s likely to continue that against the Mexicans.

Mexico were living on the edge against their last match with Croatia by adopting a safety first strategy and looking for a draw against the Croats.

But they left it a bit late to score goals and finally to win against Croatia to go level in terms of points with the group leaders, Brazil.

They could have nicked the first spot for themselves, but fell short of improving their goal difference. Having scored just one goal in the first two matches (their only goal coming against Cameroon), Mexico followed it with three good goals against Croatia.

What this means is that Mexico’s technically-gifted midfield means Netherlands will have problems dealing with them.

The game looks to be hinging on the kind of formation that both the coaches employ. Van Gaal had continued with an extra man in the defence just to make sure that the wingers and attacking midfielders are kept in check.

Like against Chile, Van Gaal made sure that Alexis Sanchez’s run were manned by Daley Blind and Dirk Kuyt on the left hand side. The manager was bullish about his tactics in the post-Chile match conference and will be looking to implement the same against Mexico.

Mexico have played the same formation as the Netherlands with the veteran, Rafael Marquez as the sweeper – the position he made his own for the past few years.

He can operate in the midfield too when required to provide the extra man advantage when the attackers move forward. Tactically they can switch from their first choice 3-5-2 to a more defensive 5-3-2 to absorb in the attack as they demonstrated against Croatia (same like Van Gaal’s Dutch side against Chile).

Mexico will be looking towards Marquez and playmaker, Hector Herrera to be the leaders against the Netherlands while Robin Van Persie would look to extend his goal scoring record against a strong team. Suspension of Mexico’s holding midfielder, Jose Juan Vasquez might pose some concerns for coach Miguel Herrera.

For the Netherlands, Nigel de Jong has been impressive throughout the tournament being the silent shield for his defence and he might have a task at hand against the Mexicans.

It’s difficult to see Netherlands not qualifying for the quarter-finals from here on.

Netherlands to qualify: 11/20 (bet365)
Both teams to score: 19/20 (Coral)

Colombia v Uruguay | Betting Preview and Tips

Colombia v Uruguay | Betting Preview and Tips

Colombia and Uruguay will feature in an All-South American clash in the Round of 16 of the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil. The match will be played at the iconic Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, June 28.

While Colombia have won each of their three group matches to ensure qualification to this stage of the tournament, Uruguay had to qualify the hard way, after suffering a somewhat unexpected defeat to Costa Rica in their opener. They have since beaten former world champions England and Italy in order to seal a berth at the first knock-out round of football’s showpiece event.

Colombia, who are ranked eighth by FIFA in their Coca-Cola world rankings, came into this tournament without the injured Radamel Falcao, who was regarded as their best striker before he suffered a terrible knee injury at the turn of the year.

While rivals were hoping that the loss of such a vital player would diffuse the threat that they possess in attack, the likes of James Rodriguez and Jackson Martinez have ensured that their rivals feel the pain as they have plundered in the goals.

Rodriguez, with three goals and two assists to his name in the world cup already, is one of the favourites to open the scoring for Colombia with Paddy Power offering an amazing 9/1 on the possibility. Martinez is 11/2 (BetVictor) to score the first goal in the game.

The seventh-ranked Uruguay had come into the World Cup with high hopes but their star striker Luis Suarez had to undergo a knee operation a fortnight before the big tournament. Uruguay lost 3-1 to Costa Rica with the striker on the bench in the opener as the Costa Ricans simply outplayed the Sky Blues.

Such a devastating result meant that Oscar Tabarez had no other option but field Suarez against England and the move paid rich dividends.

Just as football lovers started to think that this could be Suarez’s tournament, the man himself has proved them wrong as he faces a mighty ban after placing a crunching bite on the shoulder of Italian defender Georgio Chiellini in Uruguay’s 1-0 win over the Azzuris.

Uruguay are now looking at a match against Colombia without their talismanic striker in the team after his most recent outburst, with FIFA having slapped a nine-match international ban to go with four months of no football even at club level. What remains to be seen if he’s allowed to play this game, now that he has appealed against the ban.

This was the third time that Suarez has bitten an opponent on the football pitch after his trysts at Ajax and then at Liverpool the season before last. The Liverpool striker has already served a combined ban of seventeen matches for similar offences and it is quite clear that he has not learnt from his mistakes.

With team morale at an all-time low even after knocking Italy out in the group stage, the burden of scoring goals for the Sky Blues has now fallen squarely on the shoulders of PSG striker Edinson Cavani, who has so far scored a solitary goal in the tournament. Cavani is the favourite to open the scoring for Uruguay with odds of 7/1 (bet365) on his head.

Colombia on the other hand will be greatly encouraged by the fact that the man who could have been the biggest threat in their quest for qualification to the quarter-finals is now definitely out of the fixture. With a defence that has only let in 2 goals in the tournament so far, and a steely midfield that has created plenty of chances, the Colombians will be extremely confident of their chances.

Suarez’s absence and the general cascading effect his ban would have had on Uruguay means I will be going with Colombia to win this game.

Colombia to win by 1 (3/1 at Ladbrokes) or 2 goals (5/1 at Ladbrokes)
Both halves under 1.5 goals: 17/16 (BetBright)

Brazil v Chile | Betting Preview and Tips

Brazil v Chile | Betting Preview and Tips

Brazil Neymar 2014 World Cup
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The World Cup knockout stage starts with a second round encounter scheduled between the two feisty South American teams in Brazil and Chile on Saturday 28th July. The match kicks off at 13:00 local time and 17:00 UK time.

Brazil have been the World Cup favourites since the draw was out and they proved that they still have the Brazilian flair which the 2010 squad lacked so much.

They finished top of the group, edging out Mexico by goal difference which included two impressive victories over Croatia (Result: 3-1) and Cameroon (Result: 4-1). These two victories were sandwiched by a drab draw against Mexico (Result: 0-0) which saw the media doubt Brazil’s hunger and ambition.

Chile’s World Cup campaign has been impressive so far with only the defeat to the Netherlands (Result: 3-1) being bit of a spot on their exciting campaign.

Two successive victories against Australia (3-1) and Spain (2-0) elevated their status as a force to reckon in the tournament. They were responsible for Spain’s exit in the World Cup by outfoxing them in almost every department, a noteworthy feat considering Spain’s roster and status.

Though they are in South America, playing conditions in Chile differ a lot from the tropical Brazil and they have done admirably well in adapting to the conditions.

Brazil’s main issue in the first two matches was the unbalanced midfield. This included Oscar being shunted out in wide positions with two defensive minded midfielders in Luis Gustavo (he has dropped very deep to play as the third central defender) and Paulinho guarding the backline.

With nobody linking the attack and midfield, the attack was in total disarray. This was more prominent against Mexico who were able to strangle Brazilian midfielders and also, to some extent Croatia who successfully kept Oscar and Neymar quiet on the wings. Paulinho’s World Cup qualification form seems to have vanished and he’s looking more like a passenger than driving midfield force. Fernandinho’s performance against Cameroon should give something Luis Scolari to think about.

Chile’s team has a blend of cultured midfield players like Vidal and dynamic wingers/ forwards like Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas. The balance in the team is what provides the attacking spark, but defence might cause issues for Chile against Brazil.

Gary Medel, who is primarily a defensive midfielder had been asked to play as a central defender against Australia and Spain. Though he performed admirably against Diego Costa of Spain, Australia’s Tim Cahill did give him a rough time. With burly forwards like Hulk and Fred, the physicality factor does come into play when you have a diminutive centre back.

The game should be an open one with both teams providing the typical South American flair which the neutrals love to watch. Brazil’s wingbacks have a huge responsibility to contain the threat of Chilean wingers. Chile’s attacking intent means Brazil has to defend deep and hit on the break, which also applies the same to Chile.

Over the last two years, Brazil and Chile have played each other twice and one of them ended in a draw while another resulted in a 2-1 win for Brazil. Over the last 10 games between these two sides, Brazil has won nine and the other saw them draw.

Over +2.5 goals in the game: 5/6 (BetVictor)
Brazil to win and both teams to score: 5/2 (Coral)

USA v Germany | Betting Preview and Tips

USA v Germany | Betting Preview and Tips

USA will meet Germany in what is expected to be an absolutely epic clash in the ongoing edition of the FIFA World Cup 2014. The match will be the teams’ last match in Group G as the knockouts beckon and will also decide whether one or both of the teams go into the next round. The fixture is set to be played at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife on Thursday, June 26.

The Germans currently lead Group G on goal difference ahead of their opponents. While a draw will see both teams qualify, it is extremely likely that both will qualify even if USA are able to beat Germany. However, in the event that the USA are beaten by Germany, there is a possibility that the Americans will head home earlier than they had expected.

The most popular bet for the result of the match is a draw at odds of 19/10 offered by Unibet and 888Sport. The 0-0 result is at 9/1 (bet365) but given the strike-force of Germany, you expect them to score goals – at least the one here I reckon!

Germany, who are ranked second in the Coca-Cola FIFA rankings, began their world cup campaign with an absolute annihilation of Portugal as they won 4-0 thanks to a hat-trick from Thomas Muller, the golden boot winner at South Africa 2010, and a headed goal from Mats Hummels.

However, they nearly lost to Ghana in their second fixture as the African nation attacked on the counter and caused all sorts of trouble to the German defence. It needs to buckle up against a team which beat Ghana 2-1 and gave Portugal a run for their money in their last game.

The Americans very nearly won their last game and had it not been for Silvestre Varela’s late headed goal, they would have already qualified for the second round.

The United States have a very fit team which hardly ever takes a breather. They are also well acquainted with the heat in Brazil and have the personnel to cause some real problems to the Germans. The likes of Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, and Jozy Altidore are all great finishers. Dempsey is the favourite to open the scoring for the US with odds of 11/1 offered on that note by Paddy Power and Stan James.

USA also have a very tight-knit group in defence and midfield who know how to defend and press high up the park. It is this quality which will give the Germans some nightmares as they have often lost possession in some dangerous areas of the pitch in their last couple of games.

Jurgen Klinsmann knows all about the way Germany play having started the revolution in the German national team when he was their coach. The former great will do his home team no favours as the coach of USA as the two teams cross swords on Thursday.

Germany have some great attacking talent in their squad which is reflected by the fact that someone like Julian Draxler has not yet had a part to play for his side in the world cup, despite being Schalke’s best player. The likes of Mesut Ozil, Mario Gotze, and Thomas Muller have combined well so far at the big tournament, though they have also failed to convert some glorious chances. Gotze meanwhile, is the favourite to open the scoring for Germany with bet365 and BetVictor offering 11/2 on that possibility.

This is where Joachim Loew will look to bring in Miroslav Klose. Klose, who equaled Ronaldo’s record of 15 goals in world cup finals the other day, is Germany’s best finisher and should come into the team at the expense of Sami Khedira.

Khedira has been neither here nor there as he struggled to make any meaningful impact from the advanced position in which he has been deployed. It thus makes sense for Mesut Ozil to drop in a bit deeper and make way for Klose up front as Germany look to qualify as group winners.

Recommended bets:
Germany to win by a goal: 16/5 (BetBright)
Under 2.5 goals to be scored: 19/20 (bet365)

Portugal v Ghana | Betting Preview and Tips

Portugal v Ghana | Betting Preview and Tips

Group G is very much a tight affair now with every team having a chance to qualify for the round of 16.

The match between Portugal versus Ghana on Thursday 26 June will be of immense importance for both the teams. Both teams need a win and good goal difference to qualify for the next stage and unfortunately for one of them, the competition will end here.

Portugal got a lifeline against USA after a very late injury-time goal by substitute, Silvestre Varela. It was a ‘do or die’ match for the Portuguese as a loss could have seen them packing their bags early.

Now it’s going to be their second such situation with a loss or a even a draw ending their hopes. The first game against Germany saw injuries and suspension to important players and ineffective displays from wingers Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo, which raised concerns over their aspirations.

Against USA, they started strongly to lead by a goal in the first half and keeping USA’s attack at bay, ultimately finishing off with a draw.

Ghana played the entire game against Germany at a frenetic pace and cut down the supplies of German midfield to their attackers. The midfield of Sulley Muntari and co. recovered lot of balls from the Germans to launch lightning fast counter-attacks.

The Ghana wingers, Andre Ayew and Christian Atsu were always available for receiving passes on the flanks or making a run behind the German defence. A carelessly defended corner saw Germany’s Miroslav Klose pulling back an equalizer otherwise Ghana had staged set for an impressive win.

The game will be an open contest with both the team’s emphasis on attacking. Portugal’s wingers will be important to their attack, as they look to stretch the Ghanian fullbacks.

Lack of overlapping fullbacks and genuine wingers in Germany’s starting XI made defending an easy task for Ghana fullbacks, but against Portugal they cannot be lax.

Portugal might have the same problems at their end with Fabio Coentrao injured they have one good fullback missing, but placing defensive minded wingbacks will be a good plan against Ghana providing extra protection to the centre backs.

In the midfield, Ghana have strong and powerhouse midfielders like Kevin Prince Boateng and Mohammed Raibu but Muntari’s suspension means they lose an experience head to steer them through the crunch clash. The aging Michael Essien might be a gamble if Ghana coach, James Appiah decides to play him. Essien was a great midfield player a few years back but it will be a safe bet not to play him.

Against the like of Raul Merieles and Miguel Veloso Ghana should be able to overpower the Portuguese. Veloso had a poor tournament so far, unable to provide the strength and bite in the midfield. Instead, the youngster William Carvalho has been impressive when called upon as a substitute and coach Paulo Bento should play him in the centre of the park. Pepe’s availability for the crunch clash after serving one match ban will be a huge boost for Portugal and they will be hoping that he doesn’t do something reckless like a head butt again.

Portugal to win: 13/10 (Boylesports)
Over 3.5 goals in the game: 13/8 (William Hill)