Is there any value in the World Cup betting market?

Now let’s be clear – by ‘value’, we’re talking not about selecting the actual winner, as that is a matter of conjecture, but of selecting a team or teams whose odds are anomalously generous and which has a chance of actually winning the tournament.

As things stand, Brazil are the clear favourites as we might expect given home advantage, at around 3-1. They’re followed by Argentina at 5-1, Germany around the same price, and holders Spain at 6-1.

There’s then a bit of a gap to Belgium at 16s, followed by France at 22-1, Italy, Uruguay, Holland all around 25-1 (though bookmaker 32Red has Holland at 31-1), and England and Portugal at 33-1.

Now it’s just about conceivable that any one of these teams could win the trophy – so that’s our starting point (though admittedly many would disagree).

The other thing to bear in mind about footballing history is that most of the pundits are wonderful hindsight analysts. They continually analyse in some level of detail, exactly where David Moyes went wrong with Manchester United after he’s been sacked etc etc. Often, such football analysts and pundits are the same people who were taking an opposite tack before the event itself; “David Moyes is a wonderful choice to take up the reins at OId Trafford in the same mould as his predecessor” etc.

In other words, it’s best to do two things; firstly, listen to the people who are prepared to put their reputations on the line before the event in making bold predictions. And secondly, look at history. The problem with the predictors is that they all tend to stay safe – not really veering further than the first four favourites (though they may flag up Portugal or some other de as potential “dark horses” etc.).

If history is anything to go by – there is one team that is anomalously long odds – Italy. Then there are two others a little less “obvious” in the shape of France and Holland. All three are seen to be punching below their weight by historical standards and it isn’t too difficult to see a case being made for any of them after the event by the hindsight analysts. Of these, it’s probably the Italians that look the best value bet overall. That isn’t to say they’ll win the World Cup – merely that their chances of doing so are a lot better than the 25-1 being offered by 32Red and some other bookies.

If you click here you should be able to qualify for a free bet on the World Cup – which makes the value proposition a lot more exciting.