Back Barney and Mighty Mike to finally gel for Dutch
The ever-more reputable PDC World Cup of Darts is about to enter its fourth edition, and for the third time running in the Alsterdorfer Sporthalle in Hamburg, Germany.
This year’s edition does offer some change, though, as rather than an initial group stage, there will just be a straight knockout. Also, the number of countries has increased from 24 to 32, meaning the overall prize money is now £200,000, although the victors will still share the same £40,000 award.
It precedes the football World Cup by six days, and is the perfect way to soak up the atmosphere of competitive international action.
England, yes England, are the defending world champions (in darts) and favourites at 11/8, and the winners of the last two tournaments. Stoke duo Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis, join forces once again in their attempt to bring the trophy home. Coral offer special odds of 60/1 for England to win both the darts and football World Cup.
Taylor and Lewis go up against tournament debutants Thailand in the first knockout round this time, and are heavily odds-on at 1/66 to win. A 5-0 whitewash is a more enticing price of 11/8. Thanawat Gaweenuntawong and Watanyu Charoonroj certainly have a near-impossible task on their hands against two darting giants, but are 14/1 to beat them.
Premier League Darts finalists and Dutch duo Raymond van Barneveld and Michael van Gerwen will be England’s main rivals. Barney, who won that league duel, is also a World Cup champion, back in 2010 in the inaugural event when he partnered Co Stompe. They start their campaign against no-hopes Italy.
The Netherlands are surprisingly second-favourites at 6/4 to lift the trophy, so take advantage of these odds. You can back them and their Dutch football counterparts to win their respective World Cups at an enticing 84/1.
Van Gerwen and Van Barneveld did not gel last year at all, after only beating Poland 5-3 in their group, before being knocked out in the second round to Finland. However, surely no one can see past them this time around, with main rivals The Power seemingly in decline and Lewis out of form.
Last year’s surprise finalists Belgium, who will consist of brothers Kim and Ronny Huybrechts again, are fifth favourites in both the football and darts global competitions. They are also coincidentally priced at 20/1 to be world champions in the two sports individually, and 440/1 chances to triumph in them both.
Belgium go up against India, who go to their first finals in the opening round, and are odds-on at 1/10 to beat them, and 7/2 for a 5-0 win.
Scotland have yet to reach the last two in the four World Cups, but are priced at 6/1 to go all the way. It will be a surprise to many that Premier League semi-finalist Gary Anderson has not made it to the team, but they have Peter ‘snakebite’ Wright and Robert Thornton to lead the line. They face Russia in the opener, where they are priced at 13/8 to beat them 5-0.
Australia, represented by Simon Whitlock and darts ‘bad boy’ Paul Nicholson, reached the final in 2012, where they narrowly lost to England on sudden death. They face Denmark first, and are odds-on at 1/4 to win the last match of the night, and 12/1 to go all the way.
Wales, meanwhile, who are 33/1 chances, could be a good shout for the title. Mark Webster, who reached the final in 2010 with Barrie Bates, seems to up his game in this competition. He will be partnered by Richie Burnett this time, and the duo are 1/7 to knock out France in their first battle.
Northern Ireland (50/1 to win the World Cup) and Republic of Ireland (300/1) face fairly straight forward opposition in the first round, against Asian nations Malaysia and Singapore respectively.
Perhaps the tightest battle of the night is between Sweden and Gibraltar. The tiny oversees British territory, off the southern coast of Spain, has a total population of 30,000, but have been present in all the World Cups to date, with the fantastically-named pair Dylan Duo and Dyson Parody their entrants in all of them. Go British and back Gibraltar to beat their seeded opposition at 6/5.
Surprise semi-finalists at the last World Cup Finland (odds-on at 2/7) open the evening against Poland (5/2), who got though their group last time around. The Scandinavian nation are 100/1 to upset the odds and win the competition.