The 2010 World Cup is only four days old, but some trends are already emerging that bettors need to account for.
10. Vuvuzelas are really loud
OK. That's not really a betting trend. But if you're going to watch a game you bet on, be prepared for some serious background noise. I like the atmosphere it provides, but most people find it very annoying.
9. Germany is really good
Germany is the one team in the World Cup (so far) that has played with absolute confidence and ruthless efficiency. In their 4-0 victory over Australia, the Germans looked comfortable with the new Jabulani ball (the Bundesliga has been using it for a while), attacked with flair and finished brilliantly. Granted, Australia isn't a top-flight opponent. But still, the German side is the only one that's looked like a World Cup title winner so far, and betting against them is a dangerous idea right now.
8. Weather will be a factor
Paraguay and Italy played to a 1-1 draw in the driving rain Monday. Brazil will be playing North Korea in 47 degree weather on Tuesday. And when Portugal plays Ivory Coast on Tuesday, the temperature will be 51 degrees with 25 mph winds. Wow. Before you place your bets on game, remember to check the weather. Severe conditions can serve as an equalizer for talent disparities -- except in the Brazil-N. Korea game, where nothing can help the North Koreans.
7. Europe struggling
At the end of Monday's action, Europe was 3-3-3 in World Cup play, and only Germany had truly distinguished itself. Slovenia lucked into a 1-0 win and the Netherlands were uninspiring in their 2-0 win over Denmark. England lost the possession battle in the first half of its 1-1 draw with the United States, but managed to win it for the game, holding a 57%-44% advantage. Slovenia's win over Algeria occurred when the Desert Foxes -- who were the best team on the field -- went a man down and then saw their goalie botch a save that even Robert Green would have made. Greece was awful in their 2-0 loss to South Korea, and France looked like they wished Ireland was playing against Uruguay in their 0-0 draw. And an uninspired Italy parlayed a goalkeeper gaffe into a 1-1 draw against Paraguay. European teams struggle when they leave Europe, and unless Germany breaks that trend here, the continuing trend will be no European team has won the World Cup outside of European soil.
6. Ghana not just Essien
Most pundits expected Ghana would fold quickly without superstar Michael Essien in the lineup. They were wrong. Ghana beat Serbia 1-0 Sunday, and the outcome was clearly not an upset. "The Black Stars" were equal to or better than Serbia in every phase of the game and are clearly the African team to watch in this tournament.
5. Home field means something
When the World Cup began most soccer geeks (except for this one) dismissed South Africa's chances of surviving group play despite the fact that every World Cup host has advanced into the knockout round. But after one game, everyone in Group A has one point, and the Bafana Bafana control their own destiny. If South Africa can come up with a win against Uruguay, South Africa has a good shot at advancing.
4. Take the over on Jabulani complaints
No one has posted odds (I'm counting on you Bodog) on complaints about the new World Cup soccer ball, but already it's being blamed for the goals given up by England's Robert Green and Algeria's Faouzi Chaouchi. Sorry to rain on your parade fans, but both were examples of bad goaltending, not a ball gone wild. And for all the teams complaining about the ball, please note Germany's performance this week. It was stellar and precise. Stop complaining.
3. Goals at a premium
If you exclude the Germany game, there have been 14 goals scored in 10 games. Ouch. That's not a lot of offense. Even if you include the Germany game, that's 18 goals in 11 games. So when you place your bets, understand that goals are at a premium, and adjust your wagers accordingly.
2. Bet the tie
When there are not that many goals, the odds of a draw increase. And so far, there have been four ties in 11 matches in this year's World Cup. If you had bet the same amount of money on the draw in each game this tournament, you'd be up 16% right now.
1. Goalies matter
Green, Chaouchi and Paraguay's Justo Villar have all cost their teams points in the World Cup so far, and have cost the backers of England, Algeria and Paraguay a fair amount of money. Before you plunk down that next wager, make sure your comfortable with the goaltending situation. Three games have already been decided by goalie blunders, and we're not even a week into the tournament.