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.
Today we’ll have two plays in what should be the ‘marquee’ games:
CAMEROON VS. JAPAN 7:00 AM PACIFIC
In addition to having the ‘home field’ advantage due to the World Cup’s South Africa venue, Cameroon holds a significant advantage over Japan on the offensive end. Japan is by all means a solid team—they were the #1 qualifier out of Asia, but that still makes them the lowest ranked team in this group. The Japanese squad is solid, but simply can’t match Cameroon’s world class strikers led by Inter Milan’s Samuel Eto’o who is one of the best in the business at putting the ball into the net.
Making matters worse for Japan, this isn’t a game that Cameroon can overlook—they’re expected to advance to the knockout stage but are in a tough seeding with Holland and the Netherlands. Holland is considered a strong choice to win the entire event, while the Netherlands are a tricky tactically sound side that could take Cameroon out of their game. In other words, a win in this opening contest with Japan is crucial.
We spoke yesterday of the strong showing of favorites in the World Cup-- in the 2006 tournament the soccer betting favorites won 43 of the 64 games (67.1%). Like Slovenia yesterday, this doesn’t look like a game where you can make a good case for a value play on the underdog or even the draw.
PLAY CAMEROON +125 OVER JAPAN
ITALY VS. PARAGUAY 11:30 AM PACIFIC
Both of these teams expect to advance from Group D play, and realistically they should. They’re simply more talented sides than their group mates New Zealand or Slovakia. Since both sides should beat the other two teams in Group D, that makes this game crucial. More specifically, it makes it crucial for both teams that they take at least one point from today’s contest.
Italy is, of course, the defending World Cup champions and in terms of talent are a superior side to Paraguay. But it’s important to keep in mind the tactical nature of the Italians—they emphasize defense and don’t score many goals themselves. Italy only allowed 3 goals in 5 pre World Cup exhibition games, but they also scored just three goals. They were 1-3-1 in these contests, which could give us a hint of what to expect here.
Paraguay is something of an underrated side—they finished third in South American qualification just one point behind mighty Brazil. They took advantage of a strong home field advantage, going 7-2 in qualifying including wins over World Cup favorites Brazil and Argentina. In warm up games they went 2-3-1.
The situation here is that neither team can afford to lose this game, and will most likely play to avoid mistakes rather than maximize opportunities. Italy has a track record of sitting on leads—to the consternation of many fans—and playing ‘not to lose’ rather than trying to push for the win. They’re very good at this ‘not to lose’ style, however, which helps downplay their offensive liabilities. Paraguay also employs this style away from home, and with both teams expected to qualify this could be a game where they play ‘keep away’ for 90 minutes and settle for a draw. There’s definitely value in betting that this will be the case.
PLAY ITALY/PARAGUAY DRAW +205