Football / Preview / World Cup Day Three

World Cup: Day Three

The first set of group stage fixtures in groups C and D are completed on Sunday, with the highlight being the evening clash between Germany and Australia.

Bastian Schweinsteiger




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Algeria (Bettorlogic rank, 52) v Slovenia (34) (Sun, 12:30)

Neither of these sides are fancied to progress past the group phase – Slovenia (3.00 to qualify) and Algeria (5.00) – but with the USA facing their toughest fixture first, a win for either would put them in a commanding position to spring an upset.

Algeria are making their first appearance in a World Cup since 1984, when they picked up just one point in the group stage, but strangely they have the same manager now as they did back then. This is Rabah Saadane’s fifth spell in charge of his national team. Including African Cup of Nations matches, Algeria have won 17 of 44 group stage fixtures since 1980 with 17 clean sheets and 12 W/Ws. Their games tend to be lower-scoring affairs with 59% (26/44) settling the -2.5 goals market and 36% (16/44) the -1.5 goals market. The Desert Foxes have a great record against teams with a Bettorlogic rank of 31-50 with nine wins from 16 finals group stage games.

Slovenia beat Russia in a two-legged play-off to reach this year’s World Cup and despite not having any star-names within their ranks, they are a very disciplined unit. Incredibly, they conceded just four goals in 10 qualifying matches in a group that included Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland. Slovenia have never gone further than the opening group stage in a finals tournament. In fact, they haven’t won a single game with just two draws and four defeats from their 2002 World Cup and Euro 2000 campaigns.

Although Slovenia are much stronger than they were in the early stages of this century, we see no reason why they should be such strong favourites to win this game - 2.25 for the win compared to 3.60 for an Algeria victory - particularly on their opponents home continent.

Recommendation: Algeria Win DNB 2.45, Bwin


Serbia (15) v Ghana (45) (Sun, 15:00)

Group D kicks off with Serbia v Ghana as both try to make headway on Australia before they face Germany later on. This is Serbia’s first finals as a lone nation – previously they have played as part of Yugoslavia and, more recently, Serbia and Montenegro. Randy Antic’s side came top of a qualification group that included France, Austria and Romania and their first-choice side contains Inter Milan’s Dejan Stankovic, Manchester United’s Nemanja Vidic and Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. In their previous forms, Serbia have won seven of 12 finals group stage matches against lower ranked opposition with five 1-0 victories.

Ghana’s World Cup expectations were deflated when Chelsea’s Michael Essien was ruled out for the duration of the competition. This is the Black Stars’ second World Cup appearance – after they were knocked out by Brazil in the last 16 in Germany – but they have a lot of finals experience thanks to the regularity of the African Cup of Nations. They came third in the 2008 edition of the competition and were beaten by Egypt in the final earlier this year. Worryingly, they have lost six of their last 10 finals matches against teams ranked at least 10 places higher than themselves with five defeats to nil.

Recommendation: Serbia Win to nil 3.30, Paddy Power


Germany (5) v Australia (30) (Sun, 19:30)

Germany have reached at least the quarter-finals in all of the last 12 World Cups, and an injury to their captain Michael Ballack, is not powerful enough to prevent them improving on this record this summer. Furthermore, they have won 16/25 finals group stage games against teams ranked 11-30 and their last eight such victories have been to nil. Germany have also won seven of 10 undefeated opening finals fixtures since Italia 1990 with five wins-to-nil.

Australia are the longest-priced team to qualify from Group D – Germany 1.22, Serbia 1.91, Ghana 2.40 and Australia 3.50 – and while this is partly down to their FIFA ranking, it is also a result of them playing their hardest fixture first. Teams ranked 11-30 have won just nine of 45 opening World Cup matches against top-10 ranked sides with 24 (53%) defeats. Perhaps surprisingly, this is just Australia’s third appearance at a World Cup since 1975. They have won only one of seven such fixtures with four losses-to-nil.

Recommendation: Germany Win to nil 2.62, Blue Square


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