World Cup set to go down to the wire

3 mins. to read

By Patrick Callaghan of Sporting Index

Argentina were my outright pick for the tournament nearly a month ago, so anyone who followed in with a buy on the Outright Index at 47 can now rest safe in the knowledge a profit of 28 times original stakes has been secured already by virtue of them making Sunday’s final against Germany. They’ll make 100 for winning.

This will be the third time the pair have met in a World Cup final, a record, and the score is 1-1. A Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina beat West Germany, as it was then, 3-2 in 1986 before the latter got their revenge four years later 1-0 in a bad-tempered affair.

Take out that freak 7-1 triumph over Brazil in the semi-final, and Germany, like Argentina, have been thoroughly underwhelming en route to a record eighth World Cup final. A 4-0 win over Portugal in their opener promised so much, but they then survived a scare against Ghana, sneaked past the USA, and needed extra-time to see off Algeria.

An early goal took the sting out of France in a dull 1-0 quarter-final win and, against a Brazil side missing their two best players, they took advantage of one of the worst performances a major tournament has ever witnessed.

Argentina will be even more motivated at the thought of lifting a third World Cup on their fiercest rivals’ home turf and you can bet that the party in Buenos Aires, if they do win, will be the best around on Sunday night.

Lionel Messi arrived in Brazil expected to spearhead a formidable front-line to success, but it’s not been plain sailing. They made hard work of a weak group and haven’t won a game by more than one goal yet.

Their talisman Messi hit four in the group stages but has been shackled since, although his creativity has led to goals. Argentina haven’t gone behind yet, though, and their defence has been immense. They’ve conceded just three times, the same as Germany’s, and has kept three successive clean sheets.

Can Germany keep the momentum from that famous result at the Maracana going and become the first European country to taste World Cup glory in the Americas? Or will Argentina raise their game and inflict a fifth finals defeat on Joachim Low’s men?

It’s almost impossible to call. Sporting Index make the Germans the marginal favourites with their supremacy pitched at 0.2-0.4. There may be value in a small sell as even a draw will make a profit and you wouldn’t bet against a Messi moment of magic winning it.

There are a number of interesting markets to consider. Seven of the 14 knockout games at this tournament have gone to extra time, the most since 1990, and another draw looks a strong possibility.

Traders have extra-time and penalty markets. In the latter you can buy either finalist at 2, with the market making up 25 if the winner is decided by spotkicks. The 2006 final went down to luck from 12 yards and the 2010 final very nearly did too.

A low-scoring contest looks the most likely option, so selling Match Goal Rush at 25 looks the best bet. You would need three goals to fly in to make a loss. The make-up is as follows; 0 goals = 0 pts; 1 goal = 10 pts; 2 goals = 20 pts; 3 goals = 33 pts; 4 goals = 50 pts; 5 goals = 70 pts; 6 or more goals = 100pts.

Brazil shouldn’t be favourites to beat the Netherlands in the pointless game that is the third-place play off after the mauling they took on Tuesday. It will take the nation years to recover from that and Netherlands look a great bet to beat them. Sell Brazil/Netherlands at 0.25.

Remember, with sports spread betting, losses may exceed your initial deposit or credit limit.

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