Brazil clear favourites to win the World Cup

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Perhaps not surprisingly given that they’re the hosts and no European team has ever won the competition on South American soil, Brazil are the clear favourites to win the 2014 World Cup.

BetVictor rate them at just 3/1 to go all the way in front of their own supporters.

The case for Luis Felipe Scolari’s charges is strengthened by the fact that they cruised to victory in the Confederations Cup on their own patch in 2013, in what could be considered a decent dress rehearsal for the big one and it’s fair to say that the Selecao are the team to beat.

South American rivals Argentina are considered the most likely challenger, at 9/2 with Skybet and of course any team that contains Lionel Messi has to be respected.

The Barcelona man,’s 8/1 Golden Boot favourite, didn’t have the best season at club level by his very high standards but he remains a key asset for Alejandro Sabella’s men, alongside Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero and that pair will make them a genuine danger.

Holders and European champions Spain are as high as 13/2 at Ladbrokes to retain the trophy but many are writing off the 2010 victors, who arguably don’t look quite as formidable as maybe they did a couple of years ago.

Reports of their demise of course, are premature and if Diego Costa, a 25/1 chance in Stan James’s top scorer market, can prove his fitness then they’ll be more than a match for most opponents.The one question mark is a possible showdown with Brazil in the first knockout round.

Blending youth and experience, Germany (13/2, Stan James) are the fourth team considered major contenders by bookmakers.

The injury-enforced absence of Lars Bender is definitely a blow for Joachim Low’s men but they qualified at a canter and looked close to the finished article in the last two major championships so punters looking to oppose the hosts could do worse than ponder a flutter on Die Mannschaft.

England have also gone for a mix of young and old and it’s hard to recall a time when the Three Lions have carried so little expectation into the finals of a tournament.

That lack of pressure could actually work in their favour and while Stan James’s 28/1 about themrepeating their 1966 heroics is a touch ambitious, they stand out in a dual forecast with Italy at 11/5 (bet365) to qualify from Group D.

Bet365, meanwhile, chalk the Azzurri up at 13/8 to top the group and that’s a better option than backing the beaten Euro 2012 finalists at 25/1 in the same firm’s outright betting.

Elsewhere, a glance at their squad list, littered with Premier League stars, suggests Belgium are a touch overpriced at 20/1 courtesy of Paddy Power but a lack of recent tournament experience means they’re more appealing at 13/20 via betway to win Group H.

Just behind them in the betting at 25/1 (BetVictor) are France, William Hill mark 28/1 against the Portuguese but punters seeking a surprise package would be well advised to try to profit from Chile. Admittedly, Paddy Power’s 50/1 shots won’t win it but BetVictor’s 5/6 for them to qualify from Group B certainly catches the eye.

Finally, bet365’s 50/1 for Wayne Rooney to be the top scorer in Brazil will appeal to patriotic punters but BetVictor’s 12/1 posted against home favourite Neymar in the same market appears more likely to yield a profit.

England’s final warm-up match before their World Cup opener sees them take on Honduras in Miami on Saturday and it’s just 1/2 with Stan James for Roy Hodgson’s troops to sign off

Paddy Power price the Central American outfit at 7/1 and it’s 16/5 at bet365 to end with the pair on level terms but while it could well be a close affair as the sides look to avoid injuries, the Three Lions should have the quality to prevail.

Betway make England 13/10 to defeat the Hondurans ‘to nil’, it’s 11/2 via BetVictor for Hodgson’s boys to grab the only goal and the same bookmakers go 16/5 about them nicking after a level first half.

In Rugby Union, England take on New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday and perhaps not surprisingly they’re outsiders at 14/1 (betway) to overcome the All Blacks in their own backyard.

The world champions are just 1/20 at BetVictor and rate the home side at 10/11 in the handicaps, when starting 19-points adrift of the tourists.

Lewis Hamilton insists he and team mate Nico Rosberg are still friends despite the well-documented controversy at the Monaco Grand Prix but the Brit will nevertheless be desperate to avenge his Monte Carlo defeat as the Formula One campaign moves to Canada and Stan James make him just 8/15 to emerge triumphant at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, where the Mercedes team are 4/9 (Ladbrokes) to claim another 1-2.

Bet of the week: Brazil to win the World Cup – 3/1 (BetVictor).

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