World Cup Strategies

With the World Cup beginning on 11th June, now is a good time for us to draw up a battle plan regarding how we are going to approach this tournament from a betting perspective.

In this article, I will take you through the many markets that are offered on Betfair (and I make no apologies for using Betfair because we can back as well as lay as well as trade!).
Not only do I have ALL of that for you, but I’ve also found time this month to get going with some new videos for you to walk you through the practicalities of using Betfair (after all I am always talking about it!)

In this first video I show and talk you through the basics! I’m new to all of this so let me know what you think:

First things first

The first thing we should have at our disposal is a schedule for the tournament and the early group matches. will offer such a schedule.

A pdf version of the schedule is available at

Having looked at the early schedule, I would look for any standout games – standout for the following reasons:

  • Is one team dominant?
  • Are goals expected?
  • Does one team have a strong record in head to heads? (Go to – click on your team of choice and use the head to heads facility to gauge whether opposition is a possible bogey team.)
  • Does one team contain more established top league players? (by which I mean La liga/Ligue 1/ Bundesliga/Seria A/English Premiership)
  • Does one team carry a significant player? (e.g. Argentina and Messi and Higuain, Spain and Xavi and Torres, England and Rooney.)

At this stage, then, my personal choices in the early days of the World Cup would be Argentina v Nigeria, England v USA, Germany v Australia (Germany contains more top league players), Holland v Denmark, Brazil v North Korea (possible mauling – check out the goal markets for this team, one of three at the bottom basement of the World Cup winner market), Spain v Switzerland. These, for me, merit further consideration.

Research and info

I place great importance on research and thoroughly believe that the better your research, the better your betting decisions and consequently the better your strike rate (and the better your betting bank).

So, where are the best places to visit for research?

The obvious starting point would be the website of FIFA, whose competition this is. is the relevant link for the World Cup.

On a daily basis, check the news section here to gain an insight into possible significant injuries and absences. For instance, at present, there is talk about Michael Ballack being absent from the German squad through injury. If there are key personnel injured, then quite obviously they will weaken any side.

As already mentioned, by clicking on the Matches link, you can see the schedule for the Group stages of the competition, either via the website or through the pdf document you can download and print off.

The next section is the GROUPS section. Underneath each group are links to Details /News/Analysis/Quotes/Matches:

I would be interested in News and Analysis. The analysis can serve to provide you with someone else’s opinion on how the four teams will fare in a particular group. If you feel the journalist here has offered a cogent argument for a certain team or teams, and against other teams, then you can shape your betting accordingly in the group markets on Betfair (more on them later in the Betfair Bet Markets section).

In the Analysis section here, I would pay attention to the Favourites, the Ooutsiders, Players to Watch (could turn you towards those players likely to provide goals for certain sides?), and the Crunch Match.

Why would the Crunch Match be significant? If this is a significant match, then will this be a tight match, and so can we set our betting sights on goals bets (opposing many goals in crunch matches?).

The Teams section is next. Choose your team to research and focus on the Profile and Analysis for the specific team. This Groups section is excellent because the relevant latest news for that specific team is available.

I also would use the Head to Heads section (as mentioned previously) just to get an idea whether, historically, one side has had trouble against a particular opponent, meets them for the first time this World Cup, or has a record of positive results against a particular opponent.

These are the relevant sections of the FIFA website. Do look at it regularly for up-to-the-minute team news.

The great thing about the World Cup is that newspapers and magazines will offer free pull outs. Make sure you buy the Racing Post newspaper’s World Cup special. Again, you don’t have to follow their tips, but it will do you no harm to read the opinion of others who have tried to find a “betting angle” into a number of betting markets. As ever, if you agree with these opinions, then feel free to follow them.

Your newspaper of choice also has an online version which will have World Cup specific sections. Do check these out. Also, have a read of resources such as

More opinions can do your decision-making no harm.

Betfair World Cup markets

The markets

These are the major betting markets on Betfair – let’s take a quick look at the markets of personal interest.


Groups A–H – who will win the group? This is a fairly straightforward market. Remember though that first and second go through so it may not be some teams’ priority to win the group, rather their priority to beat two other teams into 2nd place. This is a straightforward 50/50 bet.

Group betting options

There are four markets in the Group Betting at Betfair. I would personally focus on the “Dual Forecast” and “To quality” markets. Why? Well the Dual Forecast market asks us to predict who will finish 1st and 2nd in any order – we don’t have to be precise.

The “To Qualify” market allows us to select one team who will finish 1st or 2nd. It is a simple 50/50 bet. The “to qualify” market, in certain groups, can de dutched with as many as three teams in a tight group to go through. You can easily dutch two teams in certain groups “To Qualify”

Goal scorer match bets

This is the next market of interest to me, not so much in what the market is offering, but in which players Betfair have chosen in this A v B market. The goal scorers selected are from a select group of teams – the Ivory Coast, Argentina, England, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy and Brazil. Have the market makers at Betfair given us a shortlist of teams “most likely” to last the longest in this tournament? Similarly, can we assume the goal scorers selected in this market by Betfair are likely to be featuring as Top Goal scorers in the tournament? We have Drogba, Klose, Fabiano, Messi, Ronaldo, Kaka, Aguero, Torres, Villa, and Gilardino.

Have Betfair inadvertently offered us a shortlist for top goal scorer?

Team Specials

The Team Specials market on Betfair is divided into, four categories of bet:
Group Position/ Stage of Elimination / Team Top Goal Scorer / Total Group Points
Perhaps we can use the information provided by Betfair in the goal scorer match bets market to back those teams whose goal scorers are featured in that market (the logic being that teams who score the most goals are most likely to progress).

First Time Winner

For this market we need to know which sides have won the World Cup previously and they are Uruguay, Italy, Germany, Brazil, England, Argentina and France. A select band. By backing YES there will be a first-time winner, we are effectively backing all other teams to the exclusion of this small band of seven. The other teams include amongst their ranks Holland, and favourites Spain and all of the African nations who are improving year on year. The 2.42 therefore on offer at the moment allows us to back 25 teams to win the World Cup. The 1.65 for no first-time winner allows us to back only 7 teams, one of those being Uruguay, as well as an out of sorts Argentina side who have the out-of-his-depth Maradona at the helm, and a France side lucky to be at the finals. So, realistically there are four previous winners who could win again, and 25 who could win for the first time.

Group Most Goals

This is an interesting market. Remember, this is the Group with the most goals. In other words, which group will have the most goals scored for and against. Why not use the World Cup Winner market and look for potential whipping boys. The base of the World Cup Winner market features New Zealand, North Korea and Honduras.

New Zealand appears in Group F and should be well out of their depth against Italy, Paraguay and Slovakia (who could be dark horses).

North Korea appear in Group G along with (clears throat) Brazil, Portugal and the Ivory Coast.

Honduras appears in Group H along with Spain, Chile and Switzerland.

For me, Group G stands out, doesn’t it. North Korea are priced as the whipping boys in this tournament and face Brazil, Portugal (Ronaldo has been in superb goal-scoring form for Real Madrid) and the Ivory Coast (top Premiership goal scorer Drogba).

Group G is 5.8 to have most goals. Cast your mind back to the goal scorer match bet market and you will see a number of those named goal scorers in Group G.

Tip: If you are taken by my argument that to determine the Group which has the most goals, we look for the Group with the potential whipping boys, then you can actually back Group F (currently 7), Group G (currently 5.8 odds) and Group H (currently 5.2) to level stakes and profit, if my logic is correct.

Nominate finalists

If you have decided on a shortlist of teams which you think will win the World Cup, then, instead of backing in the outright winner-only market, why not try to dutch your favoured team against certain opposition most likely to meet them in the final. You will get far better odds than if you just backed a single team to win the outright winner market. The shortest odds here are 12 for a Brazil v Spain final.

Top European Team

This is the next market which interests me. Surely Spain and England have outstanding chances of going the farthest in this year’s competition? If you agree, then they are both backable at level stakes (note the market is illiquid – wait for it to become a lot more liquid). I would advocate dutching here as the odds will be big enough to allow us to select more than one team to be Top European Team.

Top Goal Scorer Top 4

Who will finish in the Top 4 of the top goal scorer list for the tournament?

Your selection should obviously tie-in with your selection for the team to reach the finals. Also, remember the Group Most Goals market. Major attacking talent playing against the likes of Honduras, North Korea and New Zealand could have a serious field day early on in the groups which could lay the foundations for a high goals total at the end of the tournament. Focus therefore on goal scorers from Brazil, Portugal or Spain (as they are facing Honduras and North Korea early in the Group stages).

Top South American Team

We can actually back both Brazil and Argentina here in a dutch at current prices.

Tournament Hat-trick

This is an interesting market. We have to acknowledge that the three minnows mentioned have a good chance of being spanked when facing Spain, Brazil and Portugal, but 1.26 to lay a hat-trick being scored is appealing or backing NO hat-trick at 4.8 is appealing. There have only been 48 hatricks in the 700 matches in the 18 World Cups to date, the last in 2002.

Winning Confederation

This is an interesting market as it effectively allows you to back multiple teams to win the World Cup under the guises of their confederation. The strong favourites are UEFA and Conmebol. UEFA contains previous winners Germany, England, Italy, and current favourites Spain, as well as strong teams such as Holland.

Brazil would seem to be the only real contenders in the Conmebol region – I am a little concerned that Argentina, despite wonderful players like Higuain and Messi, may not shine under the, ahem, tutelage of Diego Maradona.

Playing the probabilities then, backing UEFA would seem to cover a lot more stronger teams.
Bottom line

As well as the markets mentioned above, there will be in-running betting on Betfair which will open numerous markets for the backer, layer and trader.

As I said, I will be attempting a live chat on each major football game in the World Cup in June. This exercise will seek to help us collectively profit and trade successfully in certain matches and I look forward to it.

It’s going to be FREE – so register now if you want a place:

In the meantime, I hope you can garner, some insights from the arguments I have made as I rambled through selected Betfair World Cup Markets. It will certainly be some spectacle this June, and I hope the cameramen continue the fine tradition of close-ups of the beautiful Brazilian Samba women!

And remember, for an introduction to Betfair Trading go now to to view  a special video I’ve made just for you.