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Dark Horses, four courses

May 29th, 2006 by · No Comments · Betting, Football

This time WCO will eat their sombreros if Spain don’t, at least, make it to the Quarter Finals. Two factors make us think that this time it might just be different. Those factors are the draw and the current Spanish squad.

Spain are drawn in Group H, dubbed by some wags as the ‘Group of Life’, with Ukraine, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. The bookies are giving their best odds on Spain collecting 7 points from the three group games which will be enough to see them through to the second round. That total would see them top the group and meet the runners up from Group G who will almost certainly be South Korea or Switzerland. France should win Group G with Togo finishing a distant last.

Seeing off South Korea or Switzerland in the second stage should be well within the capabilities of this team and that just leaves victory in the third and fourth stages to reach the final. The most likely opponents in the third stage, the Quarter finals, are Brazil, Italy or the Czech Republic.

As always, Spain will certainly have the players required to succeed at this level. This time though they have greater depth and versatility than ever before. From back to front they boast some of the best players in world football in key positions.

Spain will have the finest set of goalkeepers in the tournament with Iker Casillas, arguably the finest goalkeeper in the world, backed up be Jose Reina of Liverpool and Santiago Canizares of Valencia.

A settled back four of Sergio Ramos, Carles Puyol, of Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively, and Antonio Lopez and Pablo, team-mates at Athletico Madrid, are keeping players such as Del Horno, Salgado and Ivan Helgera on the Bench.

The midfield is an embarrassment of riches with a balance of strength, guile with some of the best ball players in the tournament. Try picking four [or five] from David Albelda, Guti and Marcos Senna who offer power, Xabi Alonso, Cesc Fabregas, Xavi and Iniesta who offer vision, and then try finding a place for wide attacking players like Jose Antonio Reyes and Joaquin.

If that’s not enough attacking potential for you then add David Villa, the Valencia striker who has it all, Fernando Torres and Raul. Waiting for a chance up front will also be Luis Garcia and Fernando Morientes.

Torres and Villa are 3-1 with the bookies to be top scorers although Villa in particular will be lucky to play ahead of the undroppable Raul. With that attacking talent and the relative weakness of the opposition in the group stages you might also consider a 3-1 [Labrokes] bet that they can score more than 10 goals in the tournament.

This team will fancy its chances of reaching the Semi Finals if they do meet either Italy or the Czech Republic. Even Brazil would be foolish to take this Spanish team lightly. Spain, on paper, are capable of beating anyone and the Brazilian defense is far from convincing. Getting over that hurdle would probably mean overcoming either England or Argentina to reach a final with Holland or France. That’s assuming a very poor Germany don’t somehow scramble to the final again.

Of course we’ve been here before and Spain can often lose a game in their heads before they even take the field. However, on paper and on the pitch, this will be the strongest Spanish team ever to grace a major tournament and at 15-8 [Corals] to reach the Semi Finals, 6-1 to reach the final and 17-1 [Ladbrokes] to win the tournament they might just be worth a flutter.

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