World Cup: The Sky Bet verdict

  • Last Updated: June 8 2014, 16:15 BST

We get the verdict from the Sky Bet team on their top tips for the World Cup.

  • Gary Cahill: Good bet to be England's top goalscorer
  • Sky Bet have a money back offer if Brazil win the World Cup 
  • Spain could find it tough to defend their title 

Sky Bet have 425 markets available on the World Cup so there's sure to be something there to take your fancy!

The firm are also offering a World Cup Countdown Boost every day in the build-up to the tournament and new customers can claim a matched bet up to £30.

The action gets started when hosts Brazil take on Croatia in Group A on Thursday night at 2100 BST but what are the best bets for this summer's football extravaganza?

We've asked Sandro Di Michele, Paul Lowery and Tim Clement from Sky Bet to find out.

Hosts Brazil are pre-tournament favourites to win the World Cup. What’s the verdict on their chances and is there a stronger contender?

Sandro Di Michele: It’s obviously very difficult to look past Brazil and arguably they could be shorter as the market hasn’t given enough weighting to their home advantage. However being a bookie it’s in my blood to look past the favourite and considering Brazil have a very tough last 16 facing Spain, Chile or Holland and then are quite likely to face Italy or Uruguay I won’t lose too much sleep about laying them at 11/4. We are also money back on the outright if Brazil win so if you do fancy Brazil then have a saver on an outsider with Sky Bet!

Paul Lowery: Whilst they are arguably not the best side, home advantage in football cannot be underestimated and will undoubtedly tip the scales in Brazil’s favour. We rate Argentina, Spain and Germany as better sides than the hosts in terms of pure ability but playing in front of their fans should give the Brazilians the best chance of the leading four teams in world football.

Tim Clement: As five-time winners and hosts, they certainly warrant our respect, especially with the environment likely to play a significant part. However, if this tournament was being held in Europe they definitely wouldn’t be at the head of our betting. This squad looks more solid than spectacular, while Neymar carries a heavy burden but doesn’t quite look the finished article. We’re essentially taking them on with our big offer of money back on losing outright bets if Brazil win the World Cup.

Who’s the liveliest outsider in the outright market?

Sandro Di Michele: The lads think I’m mad but I’m a big fan of Bosnia! Strong side full of talent who are in a very nice part of the draw. They could quite easily find themselves in the quarter-finals, then who knows! I also like Uruguay.

Paul Lowery: Ecuador could provide you with some interest past the group stages.  They have every chance of getting through a relatively easy draw to the Round of 16. We wouldn’t be surprised to see both Ecuador and Switzerland give France a tough run in Group E.

Tim Clement: Well given England must be considered outsiders at 25/1, they are typically a worst result for us. Belgium are slightly shorter at 20/1 and have attracted a lot of support, while a fair few see Uruguay as dark horses at 28/1.

What are you expectations for England this summer?

Sandro Di Michele: I’m probably going to upset a lot of people here, but I don’t see them getting out of the group. They can’t retain possession effectively enough and at international level you get severely punished for that. The lack of patience in their play is also a big negative and I struggle to see where goals come from. I’ve had a few quid on them to finish bottom of the group at 10s! They could be out by the time they face Costa Rica.

Paul Lowery: As usual England will probably struggle through the group, win to give the nation unrealistic hope in the last 16 and then break plenty of hearts by going out on penalties in the quarter-finals! 

Tim Clement: As mentioned, our expectations of England are pretty modest. We see it as a real struggle to get out of Group D, with Roy Hodgson’s men the same price as Uruguay at 8/15 to qualify and Italy favourites.

Do you have a best bet for those Englishmen looking for a patriotic punt?

Sandro Di Michele: Based on the answer to the previous question no!! However of a similar theme no England goalscorer at 40/1 or maybe Gary Cahill top England goalscorer at 28/1.

Paul Lowery: At a big price why not get stuck into Gary Cahill for top England goalscorer. England’s centre-backs have got good scoring records in previous tournaments and could be our main goal threat in a potentially low scoring group.

Tim Clement: Given Wayne Rooney is already facing his critics and his struggles at previous World Cups, Daniel Sturridge looks a fine bet to be England’s top scorer at 5/2.

What’s the best value to be had in the opening round of group games?

Sandro Di Michele: Ghana to beat the USA at 8/5 or 4/5 draw no bet if you’re a little more risk adverse. I’ll be opposing a few odds on favs in the early games though such as Spain, Colombia, Uruguay and France.

Paul Lowery: The first group matches are notoriously cagey and low scoring. Look for attacking side Chile to buck that trend against Australia and score three or more goals as they look to give themselves the best possible chance of qualifying.

Tim Clement: There are some question marks over Brazil, I like the look of opposing them to win the opening game. The pressure will be on and Croatia have a lot of quality, particularly in midfield. Croatia or a draw is 9/4 if want to be a party pooper.

Will any favourites fall by the wayside before the last 16 – and if so who?

Sandro Di Michele: I’m against quite a few of the fancied sides in the group stage and could see any of Colombia, France, Belguim and Russia going home early. It’s not impossible the defending champions Spain make an early exit as well.

Paul Lowery: The most fragile in our opinion are France and Italy. Brazil, Spain, Germany and Argentina are the clear better teams in the tournament and Belgium have been given a very kind draw. If I had to choose one of the really shorter priced teams to struggle I’d say Spain have got the toughest job of qualifying.

Tim Clement: Spain and Germany certainly have the toughest asks in getting out of their groups of the four main outright favourites. Italy are considered favourites for Group D but we’re pretty happy to take them on. Cesare Prandelli’s men have struggled in their warm-up matches and have only named three out-and-out strikers, while they also have one of the worst schedules in terms of travel and potentially exhausting and humid venues. While this group will undoubtedly be very tight, they do look to be one fragile favourites in the Group Winner betting and it would be no surprise to see them struggle.

The top goalscorer market is always popular. Who’s your top pick and is there an outsider to back?

Sandro Di Michele: It’s hard to look past Lionel Messi when Argentina are in a pretty weak group so the little man could have scored four by the end of the opening games. However at the prices I like Edin Dzeko at 66/1 and Mario Gotze at 80’s who I expect will play through the middle for the Germans.

Paul Lowery: We like Argentina to be fairly high scoring and punters who choose wisest between Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero will probably find themselves on a decent value bet but for a more solid option I’d go for Pedro at a big price as Spain use a false 9 and he could find himself on the end of a lot of their chances.

Tim Clement: Firstly, it’s worth noting there’s separate markets for top goalscorer and the Golden Boot. It’s an interesting market given Neymar looks a very weak second favourite, having failed to even manage double figures in La Liga this season. Lionel Messi heads the betting but has never been as prolific for his country and club. Much depends on who you fancy to go deep, so for that reason I like the look of Diego Costa at 22/1 if he leads the line for Spain, as he did in their final warm-up game. Cristiano Ronaldo is proving very popular and I wouldn’t put anyone off taking the 14/1 on offer.

There’s plenty of World Cup Specials on offer with Sky Bet. Give us a selection to provide interest throughout the tournament?

Sandro Di Michele: I’m a big fan of our name the semi-finalists market and at a juicy price something like Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Germany at 50s appeals.

Paul Lowery: Naming all four semi-finalists looks to be shaping up to be really popular, and if you can manage to get the correct line-up you will certainly take home a nice payout, and enjoy notoriety amongst your friends as a football know it all!

Tim Clement: I’m not entirely convinced by Argentina’s defence but they certainly have lots of goals in their team. They should cruise through a group containing Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria and rack up plenty of goals, so I’ll be having a few quid on them to be the highest scoring team at 100/30.

Which player do you reckon will find himself being chased by a host of Premier League and top European clubs by the time he leaves Brazil?

Sandro Di Michele: Although I’m not a huge fan of the French team I could see Antoine Griezmann have a good tournament and be touted by many Premier League clubs. He’s coming off the back of a great season with Real Sociedad and I expect him to be heavily linked with Arsenal amongst others.

Paul Lowery: Jackson Martinez of Colombia has got a great platform to prove himself with Falcao now ruled out of the tournament. If he bags a few goals expect English clubs to come calling to Porto for his services.

Tim Clement: Sevilla playmaker Ivan Rakitic is one of the players I’m expecting to impress after a superb season in Sevilla. Word suggests that Barcelona have already won the race to sign him as a replacement for Cesc Fabregas. Mexico’s Alan Pulido looks like one to watch out for, having scored a hat-trick on his debut at the start of the year, while France midfielder Paul Pogba is arguably the most talented youngster in the game right now and Juventus can expect some hefty bids if he has a big tournament.

Finally, give us your best bet for the tournament?

Sandro Di Michele: Bosnia at 5/6 to qualify from group F.

Paul Lowery: Arsenal’s lack of firepower is really apparent when you look at the market for top Arsenal scorer. Their best striker Giroud is not a guaranteed starter for France and with Ozil and Podolski also looking like they may struggle for minutes I think Park Chu-Young looks to be a great bet for top Arsenal scorer. He will start every game up top for a South Korea side that have a decent shout of playing at least one game in the knockout round.

Tim Clement: Spain are my pick in the outright at 6/1. I simply cannot accept them being twice the price of Brazil given the vast difference in talent and recent success. Costa’s emergence and controversial decision to turn his back on Brazil could prove huge and I think the 50/1 on him to be top scorer and Spain to land back-to-back crowns is huge.