Despite unusually low expectations, Al Hain-Cole believes it is worth backing Roy Hodgson's men to finish above a Uruguay side lacking a fully fit Luis Suarez in Brazil
While the North American minnows Costa Rica are 10/1 (11.00) outsiders to qualify and priced at a hefty 50/1 (51.00) with Paddy Power to finish in first place, there seems to be little to choose between the other three teams.
The Azzurri are current 13/8 (2.63) front runners in a tight race for top spot, with Oscar Tabarez’s men only slightly behind at 15/8 (2.88) and England on offer at 21/10 (3.10).
This anticipated three horse race leaves little value in the qualification market, where Roy Hodgson’s side boast the longest odds at a mere 8/13 (1.62) to earn a place in the last 16, with Uruguay 1/2 (1.50) and Italy 4/11 (1.44) offering an even more slender return.
However, with Luis Suarez struggling to recover from knee surgery in time to make it to Brazil and likely to be less than fully fit should he manage to take to the field, the 6/4 (2.50) price on his country falling at the first hurdle looks rather attractive.
Considering they may find themselves without their inspirational captain and record goalscorer in Suarez, La Celeste arguably appear overrated as they head to a tournament that they only qualified for via the play-offs.
In contrast, the Three Lions will head to the World Cup with expectations unusually low, as odds of 6/5 (2.20) on them crashing out in the group stages demonstrate.
With this in mind, there is clear value to be found in backing the 9/2 (5.50) price on Hodgson’s team to make it to the knockout stages as runners-up to Cesare Prandelli’s group favourites, particularly given the strong league form of a number of their players last season.
Five points would probably be enough to earn safe passage from a tight group, with 10/11 (1.91) odds available on England achieving that target at least, while Uruguay can be backed at 11/10 (2.10) to gain no more than four.
|Uruguay to fail to qualify for a 2pt stake at 6/4 (2.50) with Paddy Power
||Italy 1st & England 2nd for a 1pt stake at 9/2 (5.50) with Paddy Power
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Al Hain-Cole is a Liverpool fan, experienced tipster and avid follower of European football. He specialises in accumulators and if you would like to read more from Al you can follow him on Twitter here.