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Ronaldo and co up against it in Brazil

| 22.11.2013

Coral have clipped both Portugal (25/1 from 33/1) and France (20/1 from 50/1) for the World Cup after the two nations qualified in dramatic fashion last night, but you have to wonder whether either team will be up to making a serious impression in Brazil.

They say that Diego Maradona won the World Cup single-handedly for Argentina in 1986, but he had a stronger team around him than Cristiano Ronaldo has with Portugal. The Real Madrid man may have done it pretty much on his own against Sweden by notching his fifth hat-trick of the season, but taking them all the way in South America is a different matter altogether.

Even so, Ronaldo’s match-winning exploits in Stockholm should guarantee him the Ballon d’Or – Coral slashed him to 1/2 from 5/4 this morning – and it’s a relief to know that one of the best players in the world will be strutting his stuff on the biggest stage.

France deserve immense credit for turning around a two-goal deficit against Ukraine, but are also likely to fall short when coming up against the likes of Brazil (100/30) and Argentina (11/2) on their own continent, let alone the better European outfits, like Germany (11/2) Spain (6/1) and Belgium (14/1).

Spain were embarrassed by South Africa in a friendly last night, while the USA also lost to non-qualifiers, Austria, and Belgium went down 3-2 at home to Japan, but we can be sure that there won’t be the same discontent in those camps as there was at Wembley.

The boos which greeted England’s defeat to a shadow Germany side were not, I would suggest, so much criticism of an individual performance, more an expression of frustration that this is simply as good as we are at the moment – and that’s not good enough.

Coral rate Roy Hodgson’s men 25/1 shots to win the World Cup, but realistic England fans will be more attracted by the ‘Stage of Elimination’ market: It’s 2/1 they don’t survive the Group stage, 15/8 they go out in the last 16, 11/4 in the quarter-finals, 15/2 in the semi-finals and 20/1 they lose in the final.

Hodgson will, however, have learned more from defeats to two top sides than he would have with easy wins against hand-picked minnows and he certainly has plenty of food for thought.

And a few reasons to be optimistic. Adam Lallana (11/4 to be on the plane to Rio) has staked his claim with two 7/10 performances; Andros Townsend (4/11) has confirmed that he is here to stay; and Jack Wilshire (1/8) will surely give England that extra dynamism in midfield once he has regained full fitness.

The Wayne Rooney-Daniel Sturridge partnership should also be the answer up front as soon as the Liverpool man relaxes into the role. Sturridge is a quality striker, but it’s in his own best interests, as well as England’s, to make it work with the irreplaceable Rooney.




Premier League Tips
Hertha to beat Hoffenheim
Schalke to beat Dortmund
Dusseldorf to win at Paderborn


Jon Freeman