All to play for as knockout stage approaches

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England are already home after a disappointing World Cup campaign but there are still a few last 16 places up-for-grabs with the opening round yet to be finish and all four teams in Group G still have a chance of qualifying ahead of this evening’s (Thursday) fixtures.

It’s just 7/4 via Ladbrokes for Germany’s clash with USA to be inconclusive as that’s a scenario that would keep both teams in the competition at the expense of Ghana and Portugal and, with German legend Jurgen Klinsmann in charge of the Americans, many punters wouldn’t be surprised to see a particularly friendly contest in Recife.

Bet365 chalk a goalless affair up at 8/1 for those expecting little in the way of attacking intent from the two sides but Joachim Low’s men are too ruthless to do anyone a favour, even if it is a man that bagged 47 goals for Die Mannschaft over the course of a stellar career.

Subsequently, Germany, at 4/5 with betway, can throw the Ghanaians a lifeline by seeing off the United States, it’s 16/5 courtesy of for the group leaders to shade it by a one-goal margin and BetVictor go 9/1 about a 2-1 triumph for the Europeans.

To capitalise on a German win, Portugal would need to comfortably defeat the Ghanaians and although they’re bet365’s 5/4 jollies they have yet to show anything in the tournament that suggests they can hammer the Black Stars.

Stan James rate James Kwesi Appiah’s men at 85/40 to give themselves a chance by collecting a maximum haul and that’s a decent bet given that the Portuguese are fortunate just to have a solitary point from their two games.

Concluding the group phase, Stan James’s 4/5 chance Belgium can end South Korea’s championship in Rio’s Maracana Stadium leaving Algeria and Russia to battle it out for the last qualification berth.

A draw, at 13/5 (bet365) will be sufficient for Algeria to emerge from Group H and Ladbrokes make them 11/4 to progress in style by conquering Fabio Capello’s team in Porto Alegre.

However, the Russians, BetVictor’s 23/20 favourites, can break Algerian hearts and sneak into second spot with a victory.

Few punters put money on Chile qualifying from Group B and even fewer backed Greece and Costa Rica to meet in the World Cup’s knock-out stage, yet all three have an opportunity to book a place in the quarter-finals this weekend.

The action kicks off with a mouth-watering showdown featuring Brazil and an impressive Chile outfit in Belo Horizonte.

The home side get the nod from bookies, bet365 pricing them at 4/6, while Stan James make Jorge Sampaoli’s side 9/2 to stun the nation by eliminating the Selecao in normal time. It’s 3/1 (BetVictor) for the fixture to require extra-time.

Brazil warrant their status as favourites following an improved performance against Cameroon, but they’re a risky bet against a Chilean side winning plenty of friends with their attacking style.

In fact, punters might be better served by avoiding the match betting and focusing on goal-related wagers, such as William Hill’s 10/11 about both teams getting on the scoresheet or Stan James’s 5/6 about a tally of three or more. Alternatively, in-form front man Neymar is 7/2 with Paddy Power to break the deadlock.

Colombia and Uruguay face off in Rio on Saturday, the free-scoring Colombians installed as bet365’s 23/20 favourites to win inside normal time.

As we go to press, no decision has been made regarding Luis Suarez’s future involvement in the tournament, although if he does play, Uruguay’s 11/4 odds (Ladbrokes) may shorten.

Three of the pair’s last four meetings (all World Cup qualifiers) have been won by Uruguay, and post a massive 55/1 against them continuing that trend by winning 3-2 on Saturday night.

Backers anticipating a hatful of goals may also fancy Stan James’s 4/6 for the match to yield more than 2.5 successful strikes, while bet365 offer 11/10 about the game’s total goal minutes exceeding 130.

Holland and Mexico have met only once competitively – a 2-2 draw at the 1998 World Cup – and Skybet’s 12/5 for Sunday’s encounter to finish all-square has attracted steady support.

Not surprisingly, bet365 make the Dutch their 11/10 favourites, but Mexico have proved dogged opponents and their 14/5 odds (William Hill) appear a little on the frothy side.

Indeed, such is the Mexican’s defensive prowess that taking on Skybet’s 9/1 for it to finish goalless at 90 minutes holds obvious appeal and it’s 6/1 (bet365) to end 1-1.

Georgios Samaras secured Greece’s berth in the knockout stages with an injury-time penalty against Ivory Coast and his team-mates once again start as underdogs (2/1, to overhaul Costa Rica (13/8, Betway) in Recife on Sunday.

Stan James chalk an inviting 4/1 against the match ending as a score draw and bet365 offer 5/4 against both teams scoring.

Bet of the week: Colombia to beat Uruguay – 23/20 (bet365).

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