Where Is The Value In World Cup Futures?

via Bleacher Report


With a little down time in the international game right now, we wanted to see where teams stand for Brazil 2014.  As we approach the June World Cup qualifiers, WGF has decided to take a look at how teams real odds of winning the World Cup look against the current betting odds.  There are sure to be inconsistencies.  Before getting into the biggest differences regarding individual teams, it is important to understand how the group stage will work in Brazil.


The Final Draw

The final draw for Brazil may end up being slightly more complicated than the draw for South Africa.  Both UEFA (13) and CAF (5) have a known number of teams that will participate in the final tournament.  Surely, the bottom 8 from UEFA will form one pot (which we will refer to as Pot 2), while the top 5 UEFA teams will join Brazil in Pot 1.

AFC (4.5) and CONCACAF (3.5) would have been perfect in a combined pot had they been drawn against each other in the playoff, but that was not the case.  Since CONCACAF’s 4th place team will play New Zealand, what to do with that winner remains to be seen.  There are 4 possible combinations of winners in the playoffs:


Scenario 1: New Zealand defeats CONCACAF #4 and CONMEBOL#5 defeats AFC #5.

Scenario 2: CONCACAF #4 defeats New Zealand and CONMEBOL #5 defeats AFC #5.

Under both of these scenarios there are 4 AFC teams, and CONCACAF/New Zealand would be a total of 4 teams that could form Pot 3.  Pot 1 would then have Brazil, the top 2 CONMEBOL teams and the top 5 UEFA teams.  Pot 4 would have the 5 CAF teams and the bottom 3 CONMEBOL teams.


Scenario 3: New Zealand defeats CONCACAF #4 and AFC #5 defeats CONMEBOL #5.

This scenario shakes things up a little bit but overall doesn’t cause too many problems.  The 5 AFC teams would be paired with 3 CONCACAF teams in Pot 3.  Pot 1, again would have Brazil, the top 2 CONMEBOL teams, and the top 5 UEFA teams.  Pot 4 would have 5 CAF teams, the bottom 2 CONMEBOL teams, and New Zealand.


Scenario 4: CONCACAF #4 defeats New Zealand and AFC #5 defeats CONMEBOL #5.

This is the scenario which would make things very interesting.  With 5 AFC teams, 5 CAF teams, 4 CONCACAF teams, and 4 CONMEBOL teams, 2 from these 18 teams will go into pot 1.  In every other scenario, we were able to simply take the top 2 CONMEBOL teams and throw them into pot 1.  If we did that in this scenario, we will end up with 9 teams in Pot 3 and 7 teams in Pot 4, which clearly doesn’t work.

What would have to happen is only the top CONMEBOL team goes into pot 1 and the top team from either CONCACAF or AFC would also go into pot 1.  Should Mexico qualify for the finals, there is most likely no circumstance under which this team would not be Mexico.  What this also means is that Colombia and Ecuador, who look almost certain to qualify would also be left behind in Pot 4 as Argentina has a strong lead in the bogus FIFA rankings.  This would give Mexico a tremendous advantage given that they’d be paired with an AFC team, one of the bottom 8 UEFA teams, and potentially a CAF team, which on paper looks advantageous.


Best Bets

Futures bets are different for big Football tournaments than in other sports.  Whereas in basketball, american football, and other sports, futures are rarely worth the investment due to compounding principles, in football, things are different because a team does not need to win every match to win the whole thing.  What we want to identify here are teams who are borderline longshots that have a legitimate chance at actually winning the World Cup.  Teams like Brazil, Spain, Argentina and Germany are obvious contenders.  Their current odds are not likely to get much worse between now and the start of the tournament, so you can let them go for the time being.

Without further ado, here are the teams we feel represent the best value based on today’s current odds:

Mexico (50/1): Despite Mexico struggling to start 2013, they still shouldn’t have too much trouble actually qualifying for the finals.  Given Scenario #4 above, there is also a legitimate possibility they end up in Pot 1 with a favorable draw.  Of all the teams in qualifying, they have the highest potential for a favorable draw.  It seems we’ve been down this road before when Mexico ended up in Pot 1 in 2006, drew favorably, and made the knockout stage.

Croatia (100/1): It’s hard to believe that the current #4 team in the world is only 100/1, but I can understand that given the tight battle with Belgium, there is still uncertainty about whether Croatia will qualify.  But then why is Belgium 20/1?  It’s virtually 50/50 right now, and despite the oddsmakers clearly thinking Belgium is the better squad, the reality is that if they do qualify, Croatia probably ends up in Pot 1 and Belgium does not.  It’s hard to believe that a team that could end up in Pot 1 is only the 16th favorite.

Ecuador (125/1): Speaking of teams that could end up in Pot 1, Ecuador’s odds are even longer.  I have to be honest… I grabbed some Ecuador a couple months ago when they were 200/1 and I wish I had done more.  In 3 of the 4 scenarios above, the top 2 CONMEBOL teams end up in Pot 1.  Given that Argentina is a virtual lock for one of those, seemingly Ecuador is in direct competition with Colombia for a place in Pot 1.  Ecuador in all honesty is probably better off not playing any more friendlies this year.  A friendly last month saw them thrash El Salvador 5-0, which actually hurt their FIFA ranking.  I truly think Ecuador, currently #6 in our rankings, has a legitimate chance at winning the whole thing, and this is definitely my favorite pick.

Switzerland (200/1): This is a super long shot, but they’re currently #11 in our rankings and are in extremely good shape to qualify for Brazil.  They’d surely be in Pot 2, but there’s no reason to think they’d be overmatched in the group stage.  Maybe they avoid some of the haymakers in Pot 1, and maybe not.  Even still, finishing 2nd in the group is good enough to move on.  It’s almost laughable that a team like France is at 33/1 when they’re most likely going to end up in a playoff to even get into the tournament and also have no chance to make Pot 1.


Worst Bets

Belgium (20/1): I’m going to pick on a number of UEFA teams here, but there’s good reason.  As mentioned in the Croatia blurb above, Belgium isn’t even certain to make the finals.  They are currently the trendy pick given the quality on the roster, but at best they qualify directly and end up in Pot 2.  I have to think that no matter what, after the draw comes out their odds will be higher than 20/1.  If you like them, I’d certainly wait until you know more.  You’ll get more value.

France (33/1): What I had to say about Belgium applies directly to France as well.  After losing to Spain at home, France is most likely looking at a play off match and a destination in Pot 2.  Is that deserving of being the 9th favorite?  I don’t think so.  France is currently ranked #21 in our rankings, and we think there’s a reasonable chance they don’t even make it out of the group stage.  I’d just stay away from this altogether as all 4 of our best bets have better potential at better odds.

Uruguay (50/1): Uruguay is in some serious trouble in CONMEBOL.  They have 3 road games remaining including a trip to Ecuador.  Their two home games are against Argentina and Colombia.  We don’t think Uruguay even qualifies for Brazil, but even if they somehow do, they’re headed to Pot 4.  I don’t think I’d even be interested in Uruguay at 200/1.  You should stay away.


Odds will obviously change after the June qualifiers, so if you like the “Best Bets” as we do, the time to get in is now.  Feel free to reach out to us on Twitter @We_Global if you’d like some more analysis on a team not mentioned.  We’ll be having some promotions around that time, so be sure to stay tuned.