5 Genuine World Cup Dark Horses For Brazil 2014
Who will be the real dark horses at Brazil 2014? Today on the blog Jonathan Wilson gives us 5 nations priced greater than 50 to 1 that have the potential to cause opponents plenty of concern.
Chile were one of the most entertaining teams at the last World Cup, playing a high intensity pressing game inspired by Marcelo Bielsa. He has moved on but his philosophy lives on in the excitable form of Jorge Sampaoli, another Argentinian and a self-confessed Bielsa disciple. His Universidad de Chile side brought three league titles and a Copa Sudamericana and the national team is beginning to play with a similar verve.
Chile can play either in a 4-3-3 or a 3-4-1-2 with Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas a flexible and intelligent front pairing backed up by an intelligent number 10 in Jorge Valdivia. It’s the energy and tenacity embodied by Arturo Vidal and Gary Medel that are key, though.
The Odds: Chile are currently best priced at odds of 56.00 with YouWin.
There are moments in all campaigns that have a meaning that goes way beyond goals or points. When the substitute Izet Hajrovic thumped a screamer into the top corner to give Bosnia the lead away to Slovakia, his country’s doubts melted away. They had been in control of their group before a home defeat in Slovakia, and hadn’t well in Zilina. Hajrovic’s goal gave them the win, kept them top and staved off the spectre of the play-offs for the third tournament in a row.
With Edin Dzeko, Zvjezdan Mismovic, Miralem Pjanic, Vedad Ibisevic, Senad Lulic and Sejad Salihovic, this is a team packed with attacking potential, albeit one likely to be undermined at any moment by their shaky backline.
The Odds: Bosnia-Herzegovina are currently best priced at odds of 200.00 with Unibet.
It’s impossible not to begin with the obvious, and impossible not to feel slightly trite in relating tragedy to football, but Ecuador’s narrative has been shaped by the death in July of Chucho Benitez. The former Birmingham City forward had been a regular alongside with Felipe Caicedo or Jaime Ayovi (and at times Joao Rojas) as Ecuador had manoeuvred themselves to second in South American qualifying. In June they took just a point from games against Peru and Argentina and then, following Benitez’s death, they took a point from their next two games as well. A win over Uruguay saw them home.
Ecuador now have eight months to try to come to terms with their grief – perhaps even use it as motivation – and remember that it wasn’t he alone who had carried them to the brink of qualification.
The Odds: Ecuador are currently best priced at odds of 151.00 with a number of bookmakers including Betway.
Is there a more enigmatic team in world football than Ghana? On the face of it, they have achieved remarkable consistency over the past four years, reaching the final and two semi-finals of the Cup of Nations and being a Luis Suarez handball away from the World Cup semi-final. But that list doesn’t tell the whole story: neither in Gabon and Equatoria Guinea last year or in South Africa this did Ghana play well, and the sense was they had stagnated. But with Michael Essien back in the team, Dede Ayew seemingly committed again, and Sulley Muntari and Asamoah Gyan looking somewhere near their best, they hammered Egypt 6-1 in the first leg of their qualifying play-off – and there is still Kevin-Prince Boateng to return.
They could be terrible in Brazil, but there is enough talent there to dream.
The Odds: Ghana are currently best priced at odds of 151.00 with a number of bookmakers including Winner Sport.
As one columnist noted, if Russia played champagne football under Guus Hiddink, under Fabio Capello their style is more akin to whisky: earthy, powerful and perhaps lacking immediate pizzazz. A strange defeat in Northern Ireland aside, though, they qualified with some authority from a difficult group that featured Portugal and Israel.
With the goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev finally looking as though he is back to his best after a broken leg, and Sergey Ignashevich and Vassily Berezutsky discovering a new stability behind Igor Denisov, they have a solidity on which a fluid front three can build. Russia have a tendency to freeze on the major stage, but if Capello can overcome that, he is likely to enjoy this World Cup rather more than he did the last one.
The Odds: Russia are currently best priced at odds of 81.00 with Bwin.
Current 2014 World Cup Winner Odds - Odds as at 12th November 2013.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @jonawils
He is also the editor of TheBlizzard.co.uk