James Moore: Losing Streak

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The Independent Online

Today's bets: Germany-Holland final at 17-10 with Stan James

Before a ball had been kicked, this column tipped Germany to win the World Cup at 14-1. A (relatively) inexperienced team they might have been, with doubts swirling around them, but that looked far too big a price for a nation that has made seven of the last 10 semi-finals.

So it has proved. And yet despite two imperious performances, Germany only briefly topped the market as favourites for the cup on Saturday night. After their demolition of many people's idea of the winner, William Hill still priced them on a par with Spain and Holland at 2-1. While Spain were labouring against Paraguay, Germany briefly topped the market a 15-8. But they quickly drifted back out as the Spaniards usurped them. At the time of writing, both Holland and Germany could be backed at a best-priced 9-4 while Spain were 2-1.

One of the latter pair will knock the other out. Holland have only 12-1 Uruguay to worry about. If the bookies are to be believed, we will have an all European final, all but unthinkable in the early stages when the South American teams were putting the Europeans to the sword.

Given what Germany have done, why make Spain favourites in the light of their struggles over beating a team greatly inferior to the Argentina side Germany destroyed? It's probably because of the bookies' pre-tournament liabilities. A lot of money is riding on Spain, and they won't be keen to take too much more.

There is a theory that the Spaniards will not allow the Germans the free time on the ball that they enjoyed in their quarter-final, and will be alive to their potent counter-attacking threat. But I think people are trying to find reasons why Germany won't win. I'm not going to give them any credence. Germany have more than enough in the tank to beat Spain and will be alive to the Spaniards' reliance on one player to get them through. David Villa will not see much ball on Wednesday.

Therefore today's bet is simply: a Germany-Holland final at a best-priced 17-10 with Stan James. That will be a match to savour, given these two nations are not exactly fond of one another. No disrespect to Uruguay, but they've had an easy run. The Dutch will have too much for them.

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