Football / Preview / World Cup Day Five

World Cup: Day Five

Brazil open up their World Cup campaign while Ivory Coast face Portugal in the day’s most mouth-watering fixture.

Brazil's Kaka




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New Zealand (Bettorlogic rank 71) v Slovakia (37) (Tues, 12:30)

This is New Zealand’s second ever World Cup appearance and there is good reason to believe they will fare similarly again. In Spain 1982, the All Whites lost all three group stage matches by at least three clear goals. They qualified for South Africa after defeating Bahrain 1-0 in a two-legged play-off after they finished top of the Oceanic Qualification group ahead of New Caledonia, Fiji and Vanuatu. Teams with a Bettorlogic rank of 51+ have won just one of 13 opening World Cup fixtures – Costa Rica’s 1-0 victory over Scotland in Italy 1990 – since 1970, with nine defeats and six losses by two or more goals. None of the 13 sides scored more than once.

Slovakia came top of a qualification group which included Slovenia, Czech Republic and Poland to reach their first World Cup. They have tried to qualify for the three previous editions since the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993 to no avail. Slovakia currently sit 20 places above their ranking of two years ago and similar teams – ones that have moved up 11-30 places in a 24 month spell – have won seven of their last 10 World Cup group stage fixtures against lower-ranked opposition with five victories by two clear goals.

Recommendation: Slovakia Win -1.5 2.30, Paddy Power


Ivory Coast (21) v Portugal (9) (Tues, 15:00)

Portugal were eased from slight to strong favourites in this clash following the news that Didier Drogba had fractured his right arm in a warm-up friendly against Japan last week. Although this is only the Ivory Coast’s second World Cup finals, they have a lot of tournament experience in African Cup of Nations matches. They were favourites to win the 2006, 2008 and 2010 versions of that competition but failed to deliver on each occasion. Their only experience of facing top-10 ranked sides was when they lost 2-1 to both the Netherlands and Argentina in the group stage of the last World Cup. Bettorlogic’s World Cup edition of ‘Missing Players’ highlighted how important Drogba is to this team. He scored five goals in four qualifying games, with the Ivory Coast netting 15 times as they won all four matches. In contrast they managed to score just 14 goals in the eight qualifiers he missed as they won half and drew half.

Portugal’s preparations were dealt a blow when winger Nani was ruled out of the tournament with a bruised collarbone, but his absence isn’t as costly as Drogba’s is for The Elephants. Carlos Queiroz’s side have strong finals pedigree having reached the final of Euro 2004, the semi’s of the last World Cup and the quarter-finals of Euro 2008. Prior to losing to Switzerland in their final group stage match in Euro 2008, when their progression to the last eight as group winners was already assured, Portugal had won seven consecutive finals group matches, five of which were to nil. Moreover, since 1984 they have been successful in 11 of 16 finals fixtures against teams ranked 11-31, keeping eight clean sheets in the process.

Recommendation: Portugal Win 2.25, Skybet


Brazil (1) v Korea DPR (65) (Tues, 19:30)

Brazil are the shortest priced team to win their opening World Cup fixture (best price 1.11) with good reason. The five-time winners are fancied for success this year once again and face lowly Korea DPR on Tuesday evening. Under coach Dunga this Brazil team are more reserved than previous incarnations, but they still managed to top the CONMEBOL qualifying section while scoring more, and conceding less, than any of the other teams. Their qualification success ensured that they remain the only nation to have competed in every World Cup to date. Since 1970, they have won 24 of 30 World Cup group stage fixtures with 15 wins-to-nil and 10 victories by three clear goals. Furthermore, they have been successful in eight of nine finals matches against teams ranked 51+ with five wins by three or more goals.

Korea DPR last qualified for a World Cup in 1966 and their stay this time around is likely to be a short one as they are priced at 25.0 to progress from Group G. Even so, any prospective backers should probably wait until after the first round of fixtures unless they are confident of a stalemate in the earlier fixture. No team ranked outside the top-50 has defeated a top-five ranked team in 20 finals matches over the past 30 years – W0-D3-L17 with 15 teams failing to score. Furthermore, in these 20 games, no lower-ranked side has opened the scoring while seven of the eight that were goalless at the break have settled the -2.5 goals market (four -1.5 goals).

Recommendation: Brazil to win -2.5 2.08, Bet365

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