Now is the time for Argentina to deliver

BRAZIL haven’t lost a competitive game on home soil since 1975 and are warm market leaders for the World Cup. Luis Felipe Scolari has consistently proved he is one of the best international managers in the game and he’ll be bidding to become the first man since Italy’s Vittorio Pozzo (1934 and 1938) to win the trophy twice.

With the Selecao’s latest sensation Neymar leading the line and the experience of one of the best defenders in the world in Thiago Silva marshalling at the back – not to mention an easy group – it would be surprising not to see them involved at the business end.

However, this isn’t a vintage Brazil squad. Gone are the days when they had the likes of Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Kaka to choose from. Some of this group ply their trade in the Brazilian league and Neymar endured a frustrating debut season at Barcelona.

The home support, rather than a benefit, could actually suffocate them. They were booed during the laboured 1-0 win over Serbia in their last warm-up game in Sao Paulo and they won’t just have to win to get the crowd behind them, they’ll have to win the Brazil way.

The last time they hosted the tournament in 1950 they lost in the final to Uruguay in front of 174,000 fans, a nightmare that still plays on the mind of the nation despite securing a record five World Cups since.

My instinct is that Scolari’s men are trading too high on Sporting Index’s Outright 100 Index at 47-50. When you factor in the fact they will likely have a tough second round tie against either Chile, Holland or Spain – all capable of causing problems – I’m happing to leave them.

There’s nothing ARGENTINA would enjoy more than lifting the trophy for the third time on their bitter rivals’ turf – and I firmly believe they can do it.

Their forwards alone – Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Ezequiel Lavezzi and, of course, Lionel Messi – are enough to strike fear into the heart of any team.

Argentina’s big problem a few years ago was getting Messi to repeat his club form at international level, but he’s now equally deadly for Argentina as he is for Barcelona.

The 26-year-old hit 10 goals in qualifying and will be desperate to emulate his hero Diego Maradona. If he could secure the world title it would be difficult to oppose him as the greatest to have ever played the beautiful game.

There are concerns around Alejandro Sabella’s defence but no team will line up over the next month without certain weaknesses. A gift of a group containing Nigeria, Iran and Bosnia should allow Sabella’s side to find their scoring boots and, crucially, let him rest some of the leading lights for bigger challenges ahead.

On paper at least, they will have an easier draw than Brazil and a big show is expected. Buying them at 47 on Sporting Index’s Outright 100 Index is recommended.

Patriotic fans wanting to back England should head over to 666Bet. The online firm is offering 66/1 on Roy Hodgson’s troops pulling off an unlikely triumph.

Buy Argentina at 47 on the Outright Index with Sporting Index