I am no great admirer of a flutter on football because of the variables of injury, sendings off and poor refereeing. Furthermore, the best team – which Brazil were in 1982 – do not necessarily win. The pundits favour Argentina, but the trick is to identify the dark horse that finishes third or fourth each way, as Uruguay did last time. The other feature of World Cup betting is that one team normally starts impressively, winning all their group games in style as Argentina did last time, but the team that wins gathers momentum over the tourney. Holland, though never winners, and Italy in 1982 were in this mould. So it’s better to keep your powder dry till the business end of the competition.
I don’t like the top goal scorer market as this is (as often as not) shared, causing fragmentation of the odds.
Though you would not think so from the wall to wall coverage in the media, there are other sports events taking place – notably the US Open in Pinehurst. The smart money is on Webb Simpson, a native of Charlotte, who scores well on course management, and the brilliant young Japanese Mitsuyami who won his first PGA a month back. Perennial runner up Mickelson would be a popular winner, but since Lefty was apprehended by FBI agents on the course for insider trading his mind does not seem wholly on his game. We will never forget Payne Stewart’s 15 foot putt to win the event at Pinehurst. Tragically Payne died 42 days later in a plane accident. There is also the Lords Test but, unlike some cricketers, I am not ever tempted to have a tickle on this sport.