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World Cup Wagering

Finals Preview

To be a successful punter, you need to understand probability. If you toss a coin in the air there is a 50% chance that it will come down on heads, throw a pair of dice in the air and there is a 16.6% chance that it will land on a 6, throw a cat in the air and there is a 100% chance it will be a right good laugh.

But occasionally, even if you are an expert in the field of probability theory, with an encyclopedic knowledge of soccer and the greatest staking plan since ‘The Bride of Dracula’, you can still do your proverbials if poor value teams like Italy keep winning.

Amazingly, the Italians are as short as 1.67 odds to lift the World Cup, and that’s the most ridiculous investment since the wife had the cheek to pay for beauty products. France have the necessary tools to lift the trophy; at wagering odds of 2.10, stats nerds, value hunters and football anoraks will all be eating cheese, snails and various frog appendages in a show of solidarity for our French brothers.

To say that Italy have had the luck of the draw throughout the competition is like saying that John Motson is annoying; it is so obvious that clarification is not just fluous, it’s superfluous. The French are good things to win in 90 minutes at 2.30. Correct score punters need look no further than a 2-0 scoreline at 14/1, but perming 1-0 and 2-0 together at 4.50 is a little bit safer/camper.

You can sum up the difference between these teams in two words: ‘Thierry Henry’. The Gallic genius is the most complete player at this World Cup, although the Spanish would probably call him a complete tart. Henry missed the final in 1998 even though he was France’s top scorer at the time; if patience is a virtue, then Thierry is on the path to righteousness. It is time for King Henry to ascend to the throne; bet odds are 6/1 that he bags the opener.

The Golden Boot may sound like an item that one of the WAG’s would buy, but it’s actually the award for the competition’s top goal scorer. (Personally, I don’t allow the wife to shop for anything other than cleaning materials, but I am far more flexible with the girlfriend.) Thierry Henry needs two more goals to potentially claim a share of the coveted award (the wife will also be getting a shoe on Sunday); Henry is a 7.50 shot to score two or more goals.

If the rumours are true, Juventus players simply have to turn up to win matches in Italy, which might explain Patrick Vieira’s indifferent season. It is great to see Vieira back at his thundering best, another authoritative performance from the resurgent Vieira will see France ease to victory. Man of the match betting is available, and I have seen worse 10/1 shots that the mighty Patrick Vieira.

Italy have constantly surprised me throughout this competition. Their transformation from an over-hyped bunch of show-ponies to an over-hyped, lucky bunch of show-ponies has bordered on the extraordinary. The same accusation has often been levelled at Zinedine Zidane, but the fact remains that Zizou is the definition of greatness. A bet on the sublime Zidane for the ‘man of the tournament’ award (The Golden Ball) at 1.50 is money in the bank.

Luca Toni had a huge reputation for his Serie A goal scoring exploits.
But he appears to be suffering from a serious case of Lamparditis; he couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo. On a related note, I once attempted to hit a cow’s arse with a banjo, at least that is what I told the police officer, although the lack of the banjo raised some suspicion. Toni won’t score. France have a clean sheet in the Bag, help yourself at odds of 2.50.

Franck Ribery might look like something Dr Frankenstein cooked up after a heavy night on the ale, but it isn’t physical looks that make the footballer (otherwise I’d have 150 caps under my belt). Pace, skill and grace are the vital traits and Ribery has all three in abundance. The young man has improved from game to game and the 5.50 odds offered for Ribery to score anytime should draw support.

Whoever wins, I’ll be walking into the bookies with a big smile, asking if they will pay me out on Argentina, as they are the moral winners of this competition. Although, there’s a valuable lesson to be learned here; sometimes in life, it’s not winning that is important, it’s taking apart the betting shop if they refuse to pay.

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