James Moore: Losing Streak (02/07/10)

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The Independent Football

Today's bets: Brazil to win 2-1 at 17-2 (Skybet). Arjen Robben to score at any time at 7-2 (Skybet)

At last, the World Cup is back. I mean, two days without any matches, what are you supposed to do with yourself? All we've had for entertainment is a dead rubber at the end of a meaningless one-day cricket series (although beating the Aussies is always nice), together with the latest (disturbing) rumours coming out of the England camp. Oh, and apparently there's a tennis tournament going on somewhere in south London, where there's some Scottish bloke who's doing quite well.

But we can forget about that now because the World Cup is officially back. And with a bang. Well, sort of. Brazil v Holland would, ordinarily, be one of the highlights of the tournament, of any tournament. This time, though, both of them have been rather more efficient than effusive in their style of play. It may prove to be more of a tense and tightly played encounter than the billing suggests. I fear, too, that the main talking points could revolve not so much around the play but the antics of the players.

The Spanish are marginally ahead in the "most desperate piece of World Cup" cynicism award for the way defender Joan Capdevila got Portugal's Ricardo Costa sent off (although, Portugal don't exactly have clean hands when it comes to these incidents). But the Brazilians have proved anything but immune from the temptation to come crashing down like wobbly fence posts at any opportunity. So those in the happy position of being able to start the weekend early tomorrow afternoon might not be in for quite the treat the names on the fixture list suggest.

Still, at least there should be plenty of incident and I'd be willing to take a chance on a tight 2-1, shaded by Brazil, at a best priced 17-2 with Skybet. For the Dutch goal, Arjen Robben, coming in from the left to score at any time at 7-2 represents reasonable value. He's scored 14 goals in 48 matches, so the price (again with Skybet) is a fair one. As for the evening game, most neutrals would probably like to see an African team make the semi-finals in an African World Cup, but it's hard to see Ghana pulling it off against Uruguay. With most of Africa behind them, the 3-1 available on Ghana to pull off a shock over 90 minutes is tempting, but it would be a bet with the heart rather than the head.