Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 April 2014

The Punter: Brazil will end England dream

Kaka and Brazil could stand in the way of England in the semi-finals

England have a ‘gimme’ in Group C of the World Cup in South Africa next summer and it’s simply out of the question to think that they will not progress to the knockout stages.

Layers were quick to cut the Lions to 6-1 to go all the way but don’t get sucked into that.

Interestingly, the draw was only underway when Argentina came out first in Group B which brought the immediate comment from Jonathan Pearce that England “cannot face Argentina until the final!”

So that’s all right then. Fabio Capello’s boys have nothing to worry about until the decider on July 11.

Pearce might be right but England will have a few tough hurdles to surmount before they can think of Argentina.

Assuming everything goes according to plan in the groups, England are on course to face Brazil in the semi-finals and Argentina are in line for a penultimate battle with Spain.

And if it does work out that way, then my money is on an all-South American conclusion with Brazil my choice to be champions of the world.

The Samba stars are exactly that with players such as midfielders Gilberto and Felipe Melo along with Kaka, Luis Fabiano and Robinho.

Of course, it won’t be plain sailing for them and they have been knocked off the number one perch by Spain whom many are convinced will add to their European success of last year.

The Spaniards, too, are littered with quality with the likes of Casillas, Ramos, Pique, Puyol, Torres, Villa, Silva, Fabregas and Alonso but one can’t help but reflect on their habit of more often than not being able to ‘walk the walk’ when it comes to the crunch.

On their way to South Africa they won all 10 qualifying matches, hitting 28 goals, but in the Confederations Cup suffered defeat by the USA who were so unlucky to lose the final to Brazil — so England beware!

Bookies may say they are running scared of England but I would take that with a pinch of salt. Wouldn’t it be typical if they went out in the quarter-finals to France, re-opening the whole controversy of the ‘hand of Henry’ and the French right to be there.

From a betting point of view, Brazil are good value at 11-2. They would be only 3-1 if they were not in the ‘group of death’ with Portugal, Ivory Coast and North Korea. But they will come through and may well set themselves up for a tasty clash with Chile in the last 16. The Chileans were only a point behind Brazil in the marathon qualification process and are decent ‘dark horses’ at 50-1.

From the European perspective Holland (14-1) should not be dismissed and must be taken at 4-5 to take Group E along with England (1-3) Group C in a banker double — and for those who like trebles, add in Italy at a best price of 4-7. That would pay just over 13-5.

As for England, take the 9-2 that their campaign comes to a close in the semi-finals.