Following some exciting battles in the group stages and especially the first knockout round, only eight sides are left in the tournament, vying for the ultimate prize that is the 2014 World Cup. For the first time in tournament history all eight group winners have made it to the quarter-finals and this feels like the right time to assess their chances ahead of the decisive battles in Brazil.
Outright Winner Odds: 3/1 @ William Hill
Hosts Brazil did well to win the first place in Group A, but some unspectacular performances hinted they might not be ready for an assault on the trophy. The Seleccao largely struggled in the Last 16 stage clash against industrious Chile side and they needed a big smile from the Lady Luck as well as the help of veteran keeper Julio Cesar to make it through. In-form Colombia are likely to prove very difficult opposition in the quarter-finals, but Luiz Felipe Scolari’s remain the number one favourites for the trophy, although they clearly need to raise their game in order to win the first trophy on home soil.
Outright Winner Odds: 4/1 @ 888sport
Argentina are another high-profile side that qualified for the quarter-finals despite not exactly hitting the ground running, but they seem to be improving as the campaign unfolds and playing with a lot of confidence. While the back line is well protected by the likes of Gago and Mascherano, Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria seem to be on top of their game and they are not only creating chances, but also converting them. And if Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero manage to raise their game in the final stages, Argentina could realise the ultimate goal of winning the World Cup on Brazilian soil.
Outright Winner Odds: 9/2 @ bet365
Having reached the final stages at the last four major tournaments, Germany were again tipped to at least make it to the semi-finals, and while they remain in the mix, Die Mannschaft haven’t exactly played to their potential. After hammering Portugal in their opening fixture, Joachim Low’s side worked hard to secure the first place in the group, while they were very fortunate to eliminate Algeria in the first knockout stage, with Manuel Neuer coming to the rescue on several occasions. But, with Germany players boasting a wealth of experience and plenty of individual talent, Die Mannschaft have got to be considered one of the favourites for the trophy.
Outright Winner Odds: 5/1 @ Paddy Power
Netherlands have defied the odds to emerge victorious from Group B, defeating the likes of Spain and Chile to prove they should be regarded as serious contenders. Despite playing well against Mexico, Oranje were on the verge of elimination, but plan B worked like a charm for Louis van Gaal as two late goals set up a clash with Costa Rica in the next stage. And with the likes of Van Persie and Robben in the form of their lives, Netherlands have a decent chance of winning their first ever World Cup title.
Outright Winner Odds: 8/1 @ BetVictor
Arriving in Brazil amidst doubts over team’s quality and without the likes of Ribery and Nasri, France did brilliantly to prove the doubters wrong, producing some stunning attacking performances to see out Honduras and Switzerland in the group stage before the second string side played out a goalless draw with Ecuador. And while they did experience some problems against Nigeria, Les Bleus proved they can carve out chances with ease, while the fact most key players appear to be in very good form at the moment should keep them in a good stead for the crunch tie against Germany.
Outright Winner Odds: 12/1 @ Betfred
Regarded by many as the dark horses of the 2014 tournament, Colombia have already surpassed the expectations as they are probably the team that performed at the highest level in the first four fixtures. Four convincing victories later and Los Cafeteros have set up a quarter-final clash with Brazil, but many believe it is the Seleccao that could face all sorts of problems in that game. Boasting an incredible team spirit and amazing individuals like James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado, Colombia look like they can even go all the way this time out.
Outright Winner Odds: 14/1 @ BetVictor
This is clearly one of the most talented sides in the national team history, but the players were clearly suffering from nerves at the start of their first ever tournament finals. Belgium were somewhat fortunate to win all three group games, but they managed to live up to the billing in the first knockout stage, completely outclassing very good USA side. With Argentina next, the Red Devils cannot be considered favourites to go through, but if they can eliminate Los Albicelestes, Marc Wilmots’ side might even manage to make this an unforgettable tournament.
Team: Costa Rica
Outright Winner Odds: 66/1 @ bet365
Costa Rica surprised everyone by winning the so-called group of death that contained three former World Cup winners, but nobody can say Los Ticos did not deserve to go through. Jorge Luis Pinto’s side have already exceeded all expectations, meaning they can play without any pressure, but I cannot see them winning three more high-profile fixtures to win the title and produce what would be one of the biggest upsets in the tournament history.
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