World Cup Betting News and Notes Monday, June 16

World Cup Betting News and Notes Monday, June 16

Monday's World Cup Tips
By Toby Maxtone-Smith
VegasInsider.com

Germany vs. Portugal

Germany face Portugal in what is definitely Monday’s Game of the Day at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador. The game pits two of Europe’s most likely winners against each other, and the result will probably determine the winner of Group F, unless either Ghana or USA causes a shock.

After arriving on the world stage in 2010, this German generation has reached two semi-finals before going out. It is a generation rich in attacking talent - very different from what they used to be like: defensive, physical, five in defence. Many people earmarked this tournament as one where Germany might be the team to beat, but the hype has cooled over the last six months. The squad does not look as good as the one Joachim Löw took to Euro 2012, but a succession of injuries has robbed Germany of some of their best players. Marco Reus will be a particularly big loss.

They only go into the competition with one recognised striker, and although Miroslav Klose’s World Cup record is stellar, he is now 36. Travel times, as well have locations and times of games, have conspired against Germany.

Portugal’s main strength is the interesting link-up play between midfielders…. ah who am I kidding? It’s Cristiano Ronaldo. While they are not quite a ‘one-man team’, their whole strategy is set up to get the best out of the current World’s Best Player. The rest of the team is competent, with João Moutinho and Fabio Coentrão particularly good. With Cristiano in the side, Portugal will have a chance in any match they play.

Germany are the 19/20 favourites with Sportsbook.ag, but I can’t have any of that. Not one area of the team is hugely convincing, and I’m swaying towards backing Portugal at 5/2. The draw is a 13/5 shot. Interestingly there have been no draws in the ten games so far in Brazil.

Let’s have a look at the goalscorer markets where, despite representing the underdog, Cristiano Ronaldo leads the betting at 4/1. He scored 51 goals in 47 matches this year and is now probably just ahead of arch-rival Lionel Messi. The German goalscorer I like is 6/1 Thomas Müller, the joint winner of the 2010 Golden Boot. He is a strange, ungainly type of player, but he has the intelligence to be in the right place at the right time, and is a fantastically hard worker.

This World Cup has been much more open than people expected, and I predict this game will be similar. Both teams to score is a 20/27 shot, but I prefer over 2.5 goals at 4/5. It has been very refreshing seeing proactive attitudes from most teams in Brazil, and I see no reason why Germany and Portugal will be any different.

Top Bet: Portugal to win at 5/2

United States vs. Ghana

We are still waiting for our first draw of the 2014 World Cup. And while the tournament has been much more open than expected, I am all over the 5/2 on Ghana and USA to draw. With Portugal and Germany the other teams in the group, this is a game neither team can afford to lose. It would all but end their tournament. Bookmakers are finding it almost impossible to split the two teams, with USA the very slight favourite at 8/5 against the 17/10 Ghanaians.

I would have Ghana as slight favourites. Although the USA’s long travel schedule will not yet have taken its toll, the conditions in Natal will be more favourable towards Ghana. Kwesi Appiah’s Black Stars are a real team, and they have a strength in depth virtually unrivalled on their continent. They were the most impressive team in African qualifying, scoring 26 in 8 games and conceding just 5.

This is a more youthful USA side than in previous World Cups, but I have a concern as to where the goals are going to come from, particularly after Jozy Altidore suffered a confidence-sapping season in the English Premier League at Sunderland.

Top Bet: Draw at 5/2

Nigeria vs. Iran

Iran face Nigeria in the middle game on Monday. The game comes from Group F, where Argentina and Bosnia are the other sides. Iran are simultaneously the most unknown and the least highly rated team at this World Cup. They are coached by the vastly experienced Carlos Queiroz, who is an expert in the art of building a solid defence. They scored only eight goals in eight games when they won their qualifying group, but conceded just twice. Their pre-tournament friendlies ended 0-0, 0-0, 1-1 and a 2-0 win.

It is easy to see them frustrating Nigeria who look short of creative talent. Their most creative midfielder is Jon Obi Mikel, who plays a very defensive role for Chelsea, and they may struggle to break down an unambitious Iranian side. My favourite bet here is under 2.5 goals at 69/100.

Nigeria go into the match as the 19/20 favourites - they have a strong and quick front three, but the question is how often they can get the ball to them. A draw is available at 5/2, with an Iran victory a 3/1 shot.

Top Bet: Under 2.5 goals at 69/100

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World Cup Game of the Day: Germany vs. Portugal
By Covers.com

Germany vs. Portugal (+115, +290, Draw +230)

The marquee matchup of preliminary round action takes place Monday afternoon at the Fonte Nova stadium as world No. 2 Germany tangles with No. 4 Portugal in the Group G opener. The Germans are looking for their first World Cup championship since unification, and are in great position to contend thanks to a talented group of defenders. But they should face resistance from the Portuguese despite injury concerns surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo.

Germany coasted through the qualifying session but sleepwalked through its pre-tournament friendlies. The loss of Bundesliga player of the year Marco Reus to an ankle injury is a crushing blow to a team that boasts one of the top defenses in the tournament but a startling lack of scoring punch for a team expected to contend for the title. Portugal needed some help to qualify, and Ronaldo's health is a major issue - but the roster is deep and talented.

WORLD RANKINGS: Germany: No. 2. Portugal: No. 4.

INJURY REPORT: Germany: MF Marco Reus suffered an ankle injury in the team's last friendly and will not play in the tournament; GK Manuel Neuer has been declared fit to play after missing a month with a shoulder injury. Portugal: F Cristiano Ronaldo is nursing tendinitis in his left knee but is expected to play despite missing a pair of tune-up games.

WHAT THE SHARPS SAY: "The fitness of Cristiano Ronaldo is still in doubt after the player limped off the training field the other day. With 49 International goals, his fitness will be key for Portugal. Should he not start, the chances of a German victory will look increasingly likely. Remember - the Germans have won the last three competitive games between the sides and are one of the favorites to go on and lift the World Cup." Covers Expert Footy Tipster.

WHAT BOOKS SAY: "The opening game of the tournament for these two power house soccer nations. We have Germany listed as -175 favorites to win Group G and Portugal at +270. Germany is one of the favorites to win the World Cup at +500, but face a steep test in their opening match against Ronaldo and his Portugal squad. Right now the action is on Germany's side with 79 percent of the money and the Over 2.5 goal total is drawing 91 percent of the action." - Michael Stewart, CarbonSports.ag.

ABOUT GERMANY: Stopping Ronaldo may be of paramount importance to the German side, but so is replacing Reus' skill set - and it won't be easy. The team's biggest scoring threat, Miroslav Klose, has scored 14 goals in 19 career World Cup matches but is 36 years old and is returning from a torn thigh muscle - marking his 19th injury since the previous World Cup. He isn't the only German player entering at less than full strength, suggesting that the Group G favorites may need to be even stingier on the defensive end if they hope to advance.

ABOUT PORTUGAL: Aside from the obvious Ronaldo-vs.-the-German-defense matchup, Portugal will need to win the midfield battle - and it could prove challenging given Germany's abundance of skilled midfielders. Plenty of eyes will be on late bloomer Joao Moutinho, who appeared for Portugal in the previous two European Championships but will be making his World Cup debut. Should Ronaldo falter, Moutinho and others will be called upon to pick up the slack - and their ability to do so will dictate whether Portugal can earn the upset win.

TRENDS:

* Germany and Portugal have faced off nine times in international history, with the Germans winning five of those matches while losing just once.
* The teams faced off in group play at the 2012 European Championships, with Germany earning a 1-0 win on a goal by Mario Gomez.
* Ronaldo is Portugal's all-time international scoring leader, converting 49 times in 111 appearances.

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Portugal vs. Germany Preview and Pick
By: Al Hain-Cole
Goal.com 

A mouth-watering World Cup showdown takes place in Salvador on Monday, as Germany faces Portugal in Group G’s clash of the titans.

After winning nine and drawing one of their 10 qualification matches on the road to Brazil, Joachim Low’s men are +110 favorites at the LVH SuperBook to justify the hype by recording a big opening win.

Portugal, on the other hand, only qualified for the tournament via the play-offs and are +265 underdogs at the LVH to cause an upset here.

There have been no draws in any of the last four competitive meetings between these sides, but you can get odds of +230 on them sharing the spoils at the same book.

Having suffered defeats against these opponents at three of the last four major tournaments, Paulo Bento’s team must have breathed a sigh of resignation when the draw was made for this year’s group stages.

However, their chances of meting out some sort of revenge would be vastly improved by the presence of talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, who is hoping to start on Monday despite his recent injury problems.

The Real Madrid man missed two of the warm-up matches but returned to help his country to a 5-1 victory over the Republic of Ireland in the final friendly, an ominous sign for a German team going through a minor defensive crisis.

With first choice left-back Marcel Schmelzer ruled out through injury and regular right-back Philipp Lahm potentially needed in midfield due to fitness concerns surrounding Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger, Die Mannschaft may line up with an unfamiliar defense made up of four center-backs.

Considering their impressive frontline struck six goals in their final warm-up match, Low’s team may therefore decide that attack is the best form of defense against a team that have put five past both Cameroon and Ireland in recent matches.

With an entertaining match surely on the cards, odds of +120 seem extremely generous on over 2.5 goals being scored, in a bet that would have paid out in three of Portugal’s last four and a convincing 35 of Germany’s last 42.

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Iran vs. Nigeria betting Preview and Pick
By: Hugh Wilson
Goal.com 

Iran and Nigeria face off on Monday (3 p.m., ESPN) with both sides attempting to a stake a claim for the second qualifying spot in Group F, which also includes Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Nigeria have gone through two World Cup finals since they last won a game in the competition, with victory against Bulgaria in France in 1998 being the last time they tasted victory on the world stage. They come into this World Cup after beating Ethiopia in the final round of qualifying, which saw them go unbeaten throughout their campaign.

However, it hasn't been all plain sailing for Nigeria and Stephen Keshi's men in their preparation matches, as they have yet to win.

Draws against Mexico, Scotland and Greece were followed up with a loss against USA. Despite not firing on all cylinders recently William Hill U.S. prices them at +110 odds to beat Iran.

Iran defeated the Korean Republic in their last match of Asian qualification to secure top spot in the group and safe passage to Brazil. Former Manchester United assistant boss Carlos Queiroz has been a huge influence on their success, turning around a side that failed to qualify for the South African World Cup in 2010.

In the last month they have remained unbeaten in their friendlies, drawing with Belarus, Montenegro and Angola, before beating Trinidad and Tobago 2-0. William Hill U.S prices them at +285 to win their opening game, with the same firm pricing the draw at +245.

With both sides knowing victory is vital if they are to challenge Argentina and Bosnia in qualifying from the group, you can expect an open game with plenty of goals. The OVER 2 goals bet at -105 stands out, but the question of whether the sides have the quality up front to see plenty of goals means it’s worth looking elsewhere for a wager.

The +245 odds on a draw with William Hill U.S. is worth a small investment, with Iran a solid unit that can frustrate Nigeria.

The Super Eagles struggled to find wins in their friendlies, drawing three of their four matches. With Iran also drawing three of their four games, expect a similar story in Curitiba.

Goal.com best bet: Back the draw at +285 with William Hill U.S.

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USA vs. Ghana betting Preview and Pick
By: Al Hain-Cole
Goal.com

With Germany and Portugal going head to head in Group G's high-profile opener on Monday, Ghana's match against United States later in the evening (6 p.m. ET, ESPN) looks like a decider for third place.

Having beaten the U.S. in each of the last two World Cups, the Black Stars are +160 favorites with William Hill U.S. to put themselves in prime position with another victory here.

However, Jurgen Klinsmann's men overcame African champions Nigeria in their final warm-up match and may feel confident of earning some revenge at odds of +185.

The previous World Cup encounter at South Africa 2010 was decided in extra time after a draw in 90 minutes and you can get odds of +215 on the teams cancelling each other out once again here.

While they sealed their place in Brazil courtesy of an emphatic 7-3 aggregate play-off victory over Egypt that included a memorable 6-1 win on home turf, James Kwesi Appiah's men have been far more impressive in defense than up front recently.

Prior to last week's 4-0 friendly victory over South Korea, the African side had scored just five goals in the previous nine games, the last of which were consecutive 1-0 defeats against Montenegro and Netherlands.

This lack of cutting edge is sure to be tested by a resolute American side in Natal, where the forecast of heavy rain is likely to restrict free-flowing football at either end, just as we saw when Cameroon met Mexico in similar conditions at the same stadium on Friday.

With an edgy match looking likely, we’d lean ‘No’ on the ‘Will both teams score’ prop offered at William Hill, a bet that would have paid out in five of the Americans' previous eight games and nine of Ghana's last 10. Backing that side of the prop here requires bettors to lay -145, though.

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