They say that lightning never strikes in the same place twice. Or at least, that is what repair workers for Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Cristo Redentor will be hoping.
Brazil will never get a better chance to win the World Cup in their home country. The Statue of Christ may have since been restored to full health. Whether the nation’s football team will recover if they fail to live up to their hype is another matter.
As ever with international tournaments though, there is always a team or a player that, to put it politely, exceeds expectations.
Perhaps best known at World Cups for the crazy hair of Carlos Valderrama, Colombia have a sporting chance and could sneak into the quarter finals with relative ease. Drawn against Greece, Ivory Coast, and Japan, it is a group which may not be the subject of much media attention. If Monaco pair James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao are both on form, along with Porto ace Jackson Martinez then they could be the shock South American contenders, and are at 7/2 with Bet Victor to reach the quarter finals.
A team that have always been on the periphery, and are usually safe bets for quarter finals, Portugal could definitely challenge. This is an occasion that Cristiano Ronaldo will relish, and despite the old cliché that one man doesn’t make a team, this man could probably score bare foot and blind-fold from the Copacabana. Portugal are 7/1 with Ladbrokes to reach the final.
As briefly mentioned, Ivory Coast are another ‘out of the box’ team that could, if the draw goes their way reach the latter stages of the competition. Likely to be Didier Drogba’s last World Cup, he will spearhead his team’s bid. They have never lived up to their promise at previous tournaments, and are part of a strong African contingent, though Bet Victor price them at 7/2 to win their group.
The World Cup, always throws up unexpected Golden Boot challengers and Brazil 2014 will no doubt be the same.
After a couple of terrific seasons out on loan in the Premier League, Belgian hotshot Romelu Lukaku could take the tournament by storm if his team can gel. With the likes of Eden Hazard, and Kevin Mirallas providing chances from both sides, there are bound to be chances galore in the group stages against Algeria, Russia and South Korea. betfair offers him at 33/1 to top the charts.
On current form, it is hard to ignore Diego Costa‘s chances of collecting the coveted trophy. He is scoring for fun with Atletico Madrid this season, and is surely a cert to start for Spain. Surrounded by a wealth of creativity, he barely even needs half a chance. Never mind the Golden Boot; he’s got the golden touch, and a golden compass with directions to goal set to default. bet365 have given him odds of 25/1, which are surely hard to ignore.
At the minute, there isn’t a market for Mario Balotelli to commission a statue of himself to be built alongside the Cristo Redentor, though chances are he’ll be calling it ‘Ma Rio’ by the end of June.