Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

Argentina can end Spain's dominance

No European nation has won football's World Cup in South America and it's foolhardy to expect that to end in Brazil next summer.

With the host nation, supported by Argentina, Columbia, Uruguay, Ecuador and Chile, the others – including holders Spain – face a difficult task in making history.

The Spanish, it has to be said, were the first Europeans to win outside their own continent, having lifted the trophy in South Africa in 2010, and are the only nation to win back-to-back European Championship and World Cups.

Spain, however, despite qualifying from their group unbeaten, took a 3-0 hammering from Brazil in the Confederations Cup and are on the wane.

The best of the Europeans may turn out to be Italy which spells bad news for England.

The Azzurri are worth a bet at 28/1 and should be supported to top Group D at a very tasty 7/4.

But for the overall winners, look no further than Argentina (5/1) who shouldn't be hard-pushed in the opening phase against Bosnia, Iran and Nigeria.

That leaves an anticipated second round clash with Switzerland or Ecuador which, in turn, can pave the way for a quarter-final tie with possibly Belgium.

The draw is set up for a Brazil-Argentina final and the pair are 13/8 and 2/1 respectively to reach the decider.

As for England, it's time to be realistic. Unlikely to be good enough but they have a sound chance of making the second stage where a potential clash with fancied Columbia awaits.

That's likely to see the end of Roy Hodgson's Three Lions and 11/4 to bid farewell as one of the last 16 is well worth considering. And that also applies to the 11/8 on offer to total either three or four points in the initial round.

If Argentina go all the way then Lionel Messi is sure to be among the goals and 9/1 to 'wear' the Golden Boot must be snapped up.

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