Magical Messi the inspiration for Argentina

WE are now only days away from World Cup 2010 and let’s just hope there are no more last minute injuries to some of the stars on show. I can’t remember a tournament where so many top players have missed out due to physical breakdowns, but at least the world’s best player, Lionel Messi, seems to be in one piece.

Looking at the outright market and it is no wonder that Spain and Brazil are vying for favouritism at 4/1 and 9/2 respectively with William Hill. The Spanish are the reigning European champions and arguably have the strongest squad, while Brazil’s World Cup record speaks for itself and Dunga has made them more difficult to breakdown. However, I’m of the opinion that Spain could rely too heavily on injury-prone Fernando Torres and Brazil don’t quite have the star names that we come to expect.

England have drifted in recent days with the news that Rio Ferdinand will miss the tournament, but they were too short and 8/1 is a fairer reflection of their chances. I wouldn’t be overly surprised to see England reach the semi-finals, but I can’t see them progressing further than that. Holland are interesting at a general 10/1 and could easily make the last four, as could current holders Italy, who seem to have been written off with a quote of 16/1.

However, there has been one team that has continued to shorten over the past few weeks and at a best-priced 7/1, I still think ARGENTINA are worth backing. They barely made it through qualifying due to some horrific performances, including a 6-1 defeat in Bolivia. Much of the blame was placed firmly on head coach Diego Maradona’s shoulders, but they have now won all five games in 2010 and have a fearsome strikeforce. The combined names of Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Diego Milito and Carlos Tevez are enough to send shivers down the spine of the most experienced defenders and the side could be peaking at exactly the right time.

South Americans have done this in the past – Brazil were awful in qualifying for 2002 before going on to win it, while Argentina were also poor in the run-up to their last victory in 1986.

This could be the tournament where Messi cements his position as the best player the world has seen since Maradona and he could feasibly win the tournament by himself, just as his boss did 24 years ago.

It would be folly to write off the old enemy GERMANY as well, despite them losing their captain Michael Ballack. Time and time again the Germans are underrated coming into the big tournaments and time and time again they come up with the goods. Their World Cup record is nothing short of outstanding; since 1954 they have only failed to reach the quarter-finals in one of 14 tournaments.

They are a big price at 14/1 with William Hill and on Betdaq and offer the perfect trading opportunity on the exchange, or on Sporting Index’s outright index. They have won their group in all of the last five World Cups and their price will be much shorter if they do that again and get a decent second round draw.

Argentina to win the tournament at 7/1 on Betdaq
Buy Germany at 28 on the Sporting Index outright index