Oddsbay will feature daily World Cup betting free picks throughout the competition. Our team of experienced soccer handicappers will highlight the best wagering positions on the board, so check back daily for the latest information.
BRAZIL VS. HOLLAND 7:00 AM PACIFIC
The first quarterfinal game for Friday presents an excellent matchup between Holland (FIFA ranked #4) and Brazil (FIFA ranked #1). Brazil is always considered among the top challengers for the World Cup and was favored along with Spain heading into the tournament. Holland is also a very well respected side and was installed as the #5 World Cup betting favorite before play began.
Holland is paced by their offense, though their defense has been considered something of a concern. Known informally as the Oranje (‘orange’)—a reference to William of Orange, who became the first king of the re-unified Netherlands in 1813—the Dutch team boasts an impressive array of frontline talent. Holland’s attack is led by Inter Milan midfielder Wesley Sneijder orchestrating and a deep and versatile group of scorers including Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben, Liverpool’s Dirk Kuyt and Arsenal’s Robin van Persie among others. Their defenders are merely ‘adequate’ though they’ve performed well in the World Cup so far.
After an inconsistent performance in the group stage, Brazil looked very good in their first match of the second round as they ripped Chile 3-0. As usual, Brazil features a ‘who’s who’ of International soccer talent starting with world class goalkeeper Julio Cesar. Daniel Alves and Maicon anchor the defense, with slick playmakers Kaka and Ronaldinho in midfield. Luis Fabiano and Robinho are Brazil’s top scoring threats.
In the past, Brazil has shown a tendency at times to ‘play down’ to their level of opposition and to get frustrated when the game doesn’t work out a pace and style to their liking. So far, that hasn’t been an issue with this year’s team and they’ve played very patient and intelligent soccer. The most impressive showing in the tournament has been the Brazilian defense—a liability in the past—which has allowed only two goals in four games.
From a soccer betting standpoint, however, we’re thinking that Brazil—a classic ‘public’ side—may be somewhat overvalued here while Holland is underrated. With so much at stake, we expect a very disciplined and tactical approach from both teams—we don’t expect a shootout. In fact, this looks like a game that will require extra time to decide which gives us a couple of wagering opportunities. One strategy is to play Holland +1/2 which provides coverage in the event of the upset. We’ll go for the more likely scenario—a draw after 90 minutes—and get a better price if it occurs. The total for this game is a little bit trickier. In theory, the UNDER looks like the right position but since both teams have potent offenses it’s hard to bet it as confidently as in many other games. If you're looking to play the total the UNDER is your best bet, but we won't officially take a position.
PLAY HOLLAND/BRAZIL DRAW +243
GHANA VS. URUGUAY 11:30 AM PACIFIC
A pair of teams that no one really expected to make it this far will battle in the second World Cup quarterfinal for Friday as Ghana takes on Uruguay. Ghana beat the US in the first game of knockout play to reach this point, while Uruguay outlasted another surprise team in South Korea to advance to the quarterfinals. The winner of this match will have their hands full in the semifinals as they play the winner of Friday’s other quarterfinal contest between Brazil and Holland.
Uruguay is making their first appearance in the quarterfinals in forty years though they were largely a beneficiary of a dysfunctional field of opponents in Group A—they opened with a scoreless draw against the ill fated French team, had no trouble with an overmatched South Africa side and concluded group play with a win over erratic Mexico. They held all three group opponents scoreless, although they did concede a goal to South Korea in the opening game of the second round.
This is one of the most talented Uruguay teams in history with the majority of the roster drawn from the top European Leagues. In the past Uruguay has often relied heavily on players from the domestic pro leagues that simply aren’t as competitive as their European counterparts. Much credit is given to coach Oscar Tabarez, and the team has received exceptional play from strikers Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez. There is some concern on the defensive end due to an injury to top defender Diego Godin who suffered a muscle strain against South Korea. There is a slim chance he’ll be fit for this game, though the most recent reports suggest that his participation is unlikely.
Ghana is only the third African side to reach the quarterfinal stage of the World Cup, joining Cameroon and Senegal. Ghana didn’t exactly overwhelm in group play, earning a 1-0 victory in their opening game against Serbia followed by a 1-1 draw with Australia and a 1-0 loss to Germany. In their opening elimination game, they took advantage of the United States’ tendency toward sloppy play in the early part of the contest and eventually earned a 2-1 victory.
There’s plenty of talent on the Ghana team, but they’re very young and inexperienced at this level of competition. They also had their share of locker room drama during the qualifying round with a well publicized spat between coach Milovan Rajevac and midfielder Sulley Muntari. The two have since patched things up, but the situation underscores the fact that Ghana may simply lack the mental toughness to advance deep in this competition. The team is also going to play shorthanded, with a number of starters out due to suspension or injury.
Realistically, neither of these teams will make it to the finals as they’ll have to play a formidable opponent in either Brazil or Holland. Uruguay looks to be the better side from a tactical standpoint, and we’ll back them to win the game inside of 90 minutes. It should be a relatively up-tempo affair, however, and should see enough scoring to push the final score OVER the total.
PLAY URUGUAY +109 OVER GHANA
PLAY URUGUAY/GHANA OVER 2 +103