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Monday, June 07, 2010

World Cup Handicapping

One of the joys of having a blog that has little direction, income or ambition is being able to write about whatever the fuck you want to --without any concern of who, if anyone will actually read it. So prepare yourself for a month of blogging about the World Cup, mostly centered around my failed gambling experiences during the tournament. It should be fun.

Today starts the beginning of my handicapping efforts and I'll jot down some betting opportunities that jump out immediately to me.

Group Stage Winners
So I've basically settled on 4 groups that look to have some teams getting fair value to end up on top of their groups. Below countries are listed with the fractional odds to the right.

Group A
France 1/1
Mexico 3/1
South Africa 6/1
Uruguay 7/2

Group A sticks out to me as the best betting group by far. It's the home squad's group, with lots of ways to play it. If you like the favorite, you're getting even money, and Group A is the only group where that's the case. Mexico and Uruguay are also attractive bets with similar odds.

I like Mexico at 3-1. Bullet points on that game and the group as a whole below.

--The World Cup opens with Mexico finding itself in what will most certainly be the toughest game in Group A. Playing against the home team at altitude in a packed and very loud Soccer Stadium in Johannesburg will be no easy test for Mexico. Any supporter would love to escape that game with a tie, but I give them a real shot to pull out a victory in that tough match. Aside from playing an away game in front of a frantic and horn blowing crowd, the game will be held at 5,700 altitude. Out of the entire tournament field, no team is better situated for high altitude game like the Mexicans whose domination at Azteca comes at over 7,000 feet.

--Their fitness level is exceptional going into the tournament.

--They appear to be peaking at the right time. After a rough start to qualifying they battled back and made it through. They picked up a win against Italy in their final tune-up before the Cup.

--Historically they peform well in World Cups advancing out of the group stage in all of the last 4 Cups.

My big angle in this group in going against France. They have a packed roster, but they backdoored their way into the World Cup with some uninspired play in qualifying. If anything their performance of late has been even worse than in qualifying. They were held scoreless and lost to China in their last tune-up game, and even if this team has been riding bikes in the Alps, they're fitness level remains in question whether at elevation or at sea level.

So if I don't like the French I'm left with two legitimate teams that will battle for the top spot by the end of the group stage and the odds accurately reflect that.

I really could go with either Uruguay or Mexico, and my selection is probably a function of seeing Mexico much, much more over the the years than Uruguay. Although I do have some factual worries if I was to choose to bet Uruguay at 7/2 odds.

--Their goalkeeper situation is not clear going into the tournament. This is not a good sign for a position that can turn a game or tournament one way or another more than any other position on the field.

--They also have had mixed results during qualifying...Are they going to playing at top form for the group stage? If they are, can they maintain it for all three games -- none of which will allow for a let down.

That leaves me with one of my favorite bets of the tournament, Mexico to win Group A at 3-1 odds. I'd like the odds to be a bit bigger, but I think it's a fair line with some value.

I'll follow up later with a few more groups, overall tournament winner and some good value props.

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