2014 World Cup betting guide
Value title bets, group bets and props included in exhaustive guide
The greatest football tournament on the planet starts Thursday when the 2014 World Cup kicks off in Brazil. The home team is the star attraction -- but as ever, there will be plenty of thrills and upsets along the way.
Our 2014 World Cup betting guide covers everything you need to know about wagering on the tournament, including the best title value bets, group bets, Golden Boot wagers and other prop bets and how you should bet the U.S. national team.
All odds courtesy of the Las Vegas Hilton unless indicated by an asterisk.
Title value bets
Note: With an each-way selection in the outright winner (i.e., to win the World Cup) market, bookmakers will pay out half the odds if your selection reaches the final.
The one factor that counts against Germany lifting the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro on July 13 is that the tournament takes place on South American soil. Traditionally, European teams struggle to win when they have to cross the Atlantic. In every other respect, Joachim Loew's side looks like a potential winner. It is a squad of formidably talented players with tremendous top-level tournament experience, a style of play that isn't so reliant on physical and athletic power that the team will wilt in potentially difficult climatic conditions and collective hunger borne of coming so close without getting its hands on a major trophy for so long. (The last time Germany claimed a piece of silverware was 1996.)
Don't let the supposed absence of a top-class goal scorer put you off. There is good, recent evidence that it's possible to win the World Cup without needing a standout penalty-box predator during the knockout phase (France 1998, Italy 2006, Spain 2010). At bigger odds than Brazil and Argentina, and at the same price as a Spain side that would need to make history to retain its title, Germany are the smart pick.
France each-way (+2500)*
Looking purely at the qualities of the squad and likely starting XI, France are no better a bet to reach the World Cup final than other solid outsiders such as Italy, Belgium and Portugal.
To see the rest of James Eastham's 2014 World Cup betting guide, including how to bet on the U.S. team, you must be an ESPN Insider.
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Adrian Melville ranks all 32 teams competing in the group stage of the 2014-15 Champions League. Barcelona tops the list.