We don’t yet know the man who will be leading England through your 2014 World Cup qualification betting matches, but whoever it is has been handed a very nice draw. The draw for Qualification for Brazil 2014 was held on the weekend in Rio de Janeiro, and England got the first part of the equation right, in that they avoided some of the big guns floating around the draw, namely France and Russia. Being one of the seeded teams, England ended up avoiding France and instead were drawn in Group H, which looks a very comfortable ride to Brazil 2014. England will face Montenegro (who they are currently battling it out with in Euro 2012 qualification), Poland, Moldova, San Marino and the Ukraine. Things really could have been a lot tougher for them, and on a whole, the draw looks pretty interesting. Remember that only top spot in the group guarantees a place at the 2014 World Cup, so the nine group winners go through, while eight best second placed teams will have to fight it out for the remaining four spots in Brazil. Here we analyze the 2014 FIFA World Cup draw and look what is in store ahead for the UEFA zone.
Croatia, Serbia, Belgium, Scotland, Macedonia, Wales
While Wales and Scotland managed to avoid some European heavyweights in the draw, it does through up an interesting home nations clash between the two. It is also a tougher group for them than it may first look, as everyone else in the group should end up chasing Croatia and Serbia. Those two have some very strong, and quite youthful teams, and will therefore be hotly fancied to battle it out for supremacy at the top of the group. Behind them this should be a fairly open group, with Belgium the most likely to pose a threat in upsetting the top two. With everything said and done, Wales and Scotland won’t be too disappointed with the draw, but there is a lot of hard work to be done to get themselves into position. The clashes between Serbia and Croatia should be monumental in this group.
Top Two Prediction: Serbia, Croatia
Italy, Denmark, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Armenia, Malta
A good tough group here. The Italians are the top seeded team, but are still finding their feet after a poor World Cup. They do look to be back on track somewhat, with a good Euro 2012 qualification so far, looking very organised in defence, and showing a much stronger ruthlessness going forward. There should be a lot to come from Italy when it comes to the next World Cup, and there are some good tests ahead in the group. Denmark are a tough, solid team at the moment, very organised and capable of frustrating opposition into submission, while the Czech Republic have a lot to prove to themselves after missing out on the 2010 World Cup. The Czech’s are not quite at the level where they would like to be at the moment. They need to find something more going forward than they have available at the moment, but their technical ability will cause problems if they get their game faces on.
Top Two Prediction: Italy, Czech Republic
Germany, Sweden, Republic of Ireland, Austria, Faroe islands, Kazakhstan
The Republic of Ireland will really fancy their chances of battling their way through this group. Germany, naturally will be the favourites. They are leading the way in terms of exciting European modern football at the moment, and that doesn’t look as if it is going to change any time soon. They are blitzing their way through Euro 2012 qualification as it stands and look a major force to be reckoned with. Ireland will definitely have Sweden in their sights though, who are no pushovers themselves and it should be a great battle. The crunch matches in this group will be between Sweden and the Republic of Ireland as they try and chase Germany. Sweden are very good at their style of play, and are enjoying something of a purple patch in form at the moment, which suggests that they have a lot to build upon. You know what you are going to get from Ireland, a lot of heart and passion. They are standing toe to toe with Russia and Slovakia in Euro 2012 qualification, and this draw for Brazil 2014 represents a very good chance to see them at the World Cup Finals again.
Top Two Prediction: Germany, Republic of Ireland.
Netherlands, Turkey, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Andorra
The Netherlands will be smiling at the 2014 World Cup draw they have been handed. The defeated 2010 World Cup finalists have lost no momentum, and heads their group in Euro 2012 qualification. When the Netherlands play their own game, they are a tough nut to crack, and this should be an easy enough group for them. It will be interesting to see what the Dutch can build upon for the future at Brazil 2014, because they have the talent now but is there more to come? Still, can’t argue with where they are at right now in the world game, and should take this group without too much trouble. Turkey and Hungary are both doing alright at the moment, and they should battle it out for second place in the group. Don’t see either of them having enough to take top spot from the Netherlands though, because they are not defensively sound enough. Like the direction in which Hungary is heading though.
Top Two Prediction: Netherlands, Hungary
Norway, Slovenia, Switzerland, Albania, Cyprus, Iceland
Does not exactly strike many as being one of the more entertaining groups, and it probably is not going to be. There should be a whole bunch of drawn fixtures in this group without a doubt. Norway and Switzerland are very organised sides, who like to err on the side of caution, who don’t give much away and don’t score a lot either. Albania, Cyprus and Iceland will have a hard job making an impact here and Euro 2012 qualification group H is an indication of that. Cyprus and Iceland are in that group along with Norway, and neither Cyprus or Iceland have managed to win a game in nine matches between them. Norway on the other hand are chasing hard for automatic qualification. We all know the defensive set up of Switzerland, so that leaves Slovenia. Slovenia are one of the better form teams of Euro 2012 qualification, and would expect them to breeze their way through with Norway as they are the most dynamic and adventurous of the bunch.
Top Two Prediction: Slovenia, Norway
Portugal, Russia, Israel, Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan, Luxembourg
A couple of heavyweights here, which we are looking forward to seeing. The Portuguese still have not found that perfect balance in their side which should make them a stronger force. They struggled to make South Africa 2010, struggled to make an impact there, and are battling with Norway and Denmark to qualify for Euro 2012. Still, there is always that potential there, but Russia are the team which most of the top seeds desperately wanted to avoid. No-one likes those long trips to Russia to play, and they should be looked at as favourites to take this group. The Russia play a big strong game which can disrupt a lot of teams, even it if it without a lot of flair. It doesn’t take a lot for the Russian heads to drop, so they tread a thin line. Really how they perform against Portugal will determine this group. Israel are definitely improving and wouldn’t be surprised to see them pounce on any Portuguese failing, while Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg will probably be found wanting.
Top Two Prediction: Russia, Portugal
Group F Winner Odds:
Portugal: 4/7 at Bet365
Russia: 5/2 at William Hill
Israel: 12/1 at Bwin
Northern Ireland: 33/1 at Bet365
Azerbaijan: 750/1 at SkyBet
Luxembourg: 5000/1 at Bet365
Greece, Slovakia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Lithuania, Latvia, Lichtenstein
Wide open group in which seeded team Greece will be the big targets. They are playing decently at the moment, but are always a bit hit and miss with how they get on. Would expect a big impact from Slovakia here instead of the Greeks to be honest, but with Bosnia-Herzegovina also heading in the right direction with their national side, this should be a pretty tight group. Tough to call between those three teams, with the other three nations in the group, likely just making up the numbers. Out of the main three though, Slovakia probably have a bit more of a cutting edge over the other sides, and can produce when it matters. Greece will be more experienced, Bosnia-Herzegovina are technically sound, so should be a fascinating tussle here.
Top Two Prediction: Slovakia, Bosnia-Herzegovina
England, Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, San Marino
Well, if England don’t qualify from this group, the new manager will be fired. It is as simple as that really, as they couldn’t have been handed a much easier draw. Montenegro will be the toughest competitors here, and they are of course familiar with each other from Euro 2012 group qualification. With England boss Fabio Capello retiring after Euro 2012 (who cheered?) we don’t know what England will be competing in the qualifiers. Will the old brigade like Gerrard, Lampard and Terry be gone? Will the next generation be ready to step up? A lot of questions, but England should still win this group as they always go well in qualifiers. Can’t judge where the Ukraine are at right now, as they are joint hosts of Euro 2012 with Poland so aren’t playing competitive football at the moment. That should work in the favour of England and Montengero.
Top Two Prediction: England, Montenegro
Spain, France, Belarus, Georgia, Finland
This could have been England facing France, but instead we have a fascinating Spain v France pairing to look forward too. Spain, world champions of course will continue to do what they do, as evidenced in their Euro 2012 qualification. They show no signs of cracking or slowing their momentum, whereas France, now under Laurent Blanc after their dreadful 2010 World Cup campaign are showing a lot of new life in their ranks. France are in somewhat of a transition period at the moment, but from where they are right now, they should only get stronger and stronger under Blanc. The battle between Spain and France here will be the most interesting thing about this group many may think, but Belarus could have a big say here. Belarus are scrapping it out with France in Euro 2012 qualification and giving a good account of themselves, and indeed beat France in Paris.
Top Two Prediction: Spain, France
Group I Winner Odds:
2014 World Cup Winner Odds
Brazil: 4/1 at Bwin
Argentina: 11/2 at Bet365
Spain: 7/1 at Unibet
Germany: 11/1 at Stan James
Netherlands: 14/1 at Bwin
England: 20/1 at Stan James
Italy: 20/1 at SkyBet
France: 28/1 at William Hill
Portugal: 33/1 at Bet365
Uruguay: 40/1 at Totesport