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Score the winner at this World Cup

WE ARE just under a month away from the start of the World Cup and Fabio Capello has instilled a new-found confidence in England’s players and fans. While he is the right man to sort out England’s mentality issues, the national team has only ever made it to the semi-finals once since their win in 1966.

Spread betting gives punters plenty of options, whether it be on the outright tournament index, how many goals an individual team will score or how many players will be booked for diving over the four weeks. Sporting Index has England at 39-42 in the outright index (100 points for winner, 75 for runners-up, 50 for semi-finalists, 25 for quarter-finalists and so on), but 1990 was the last time buying it would have yielded a profit.

Wayne Rooney is vital to England’s chances, but even with him in the side they may struggle to score goals. Four years ago they were in a weak group with Paraguay, Trinidad and Sweden, but they still only managed to score five goals. They added one against Ecuador in the last 16, but ended the tournament on a total of six, so Sporting Index’s current spread of 9.5-10.5 England goals looks a decent sell.

Brazil is the only country to have ever won the World Cup outside their own continent, but this is the first time it has been staged in South Africa and the European countries shouldn’t suffer from the climate. Germany is quoted at 26-29 on the tournament index and it looks like a fantastic trading opportunity.

The team has made it at least as far as the quarter finals in all of the last eight tournaments and it has made it to the final in two of the last five. There is very little downside in buying the spread at 29, especially when, unlike England, Germany was unbeaten in qualifying.

There is always one group of death, and this time it is, without a doubt, Group G. The combination of Brazil, Portugal and Ivory Coast is enough to whet the appetite of any punter and Portugal looks the weakest of the trio to me.

Didier Drogba’s Ivory Coast was poor at the African Cup of Nations, but it is arguably the best team in Africa and could surprise a few this year. At 18 to buy on the index, it looks a decent bet to make it to the quarter finals, while selling Portugal in the group index at 9.5 is another interesting angle (25 points for the winner, 10 points for the runners-up).

Sporting Index has already opened up some specials, including “Belly Flops” – total number of cautions for simulation (spread 9.5-11), “Last Orders” – total number of times the ball hits the crossbar (spread 26-27.5) and “Dodgy Keepers” – total number of times goalkeepers punch the ball (spread 102-108). None of those markets particularly appeals to me at the moment, but I am interested in the series of “Stop at a…” markets, which predict how many matches elapse until a certain occurrence happens.

The natural inclination in football spread betting is to buy goals, as we generally like to watch high-scoring thrillers. That often makes the price for low-scoring affairs better value and I like the look of selling the “Stop at a nil-nil draw” at 9.5. Teams are nervous at the start so it wouldn’t be surprising to see one of the opening games ending in a stalemate.

It promises to be an extremely exciting month, but don’t let emotions take over your decisions. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and there will be plenty of trading opportunities throughout the four weeks. And not just on England.

Ben Cleminson is a sports trader at Sporting Index

WORLD CUP PUNTS | ALTERNATIVE PROVIDERS
World Cup winner (0-100) – Spreadex
Spain: 41-45
Brazil: 38-42
England: 37-41
Argentina: 32-36
Italy: 28-31

World Cup winner (0-100) – extrabet
Spain: 42-45
Brazil: 39-42
England: 38-41
Argentina: 31-34
Italy: 29-32

Tournament total goals
159-161 (Spreadex); 160-162 (extrabet)

Tournament total corners
645-655 (Spreadex); 640-650 (extrabet)

Tournament fastest goal (in seconds)
90-100 (extrabet)

Total headed goals
28.5-30.5 (Spreadex)

Tournament red cards
20-22 (extrabet)

England group goals
6-6.4 (Spreadex)