FOOTBALL: SPREAD BETTING

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The Independent Online
WHEN IT comes to pithy titles for their more off-beat markets Sporting Index are way ahead. Fresh from yesterday's splendid "Roberto's Swerving Ball" special on Brazil's left-back, their tournament-long offerings include "Shocking Decision Referee" (which forecasts the number of disallowed goals being 22-25) and "Last Orders" (where the quote for hitting the bar is 39-43).

More relevant today is "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" where Italy and Chile are among eight sides vying for the honour of collecting most yellow and red cards.

In this type of market the teams most likely to advance the furthest are the most attractive. This is why Argentina has moved rapidly from 25-28 to 30-33 (the "winner" receives 60 points, with the 40, 20, 10 and 0 being the other make-ups), and Italy (23-26) and Chile (22-25) are next rather than Iran or Mexico. Chile had the worst disciplinary record in qualification, averaging 30 points (10 per booking, 25 per sending off). Argentina were sixth (fourth in Sporting's list) averaging 21.9 while Italy were seventh (fifth).

Chile offer a tempting bet in the Group Index stakes. On the evidence of their 2-0 win at Wembley they should coast through to the second round as the weakest European and African teams - Austria and Cameroon - make up the quartet. Sporting quote 18-21 so if the South Americans finish second, you lose just one point, but if they win Group B you make a profit of 19. A win or draw against Italy in Bordeaux today would see that huge ratio shrink and a loss need not induce much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

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