James Moore: Losing streak
Today's bets: Holland to win 2-0 at 6-1 (Blue Square) and Arjen Robben to score at 15-8 (Paddy Power)
Tuesday 06 July 2010
it's not unusual in World Cups to look at the four teams at the semi-finals and ask of at least one of them: "Hang on, what on earth are they doing there?"
That's when you realise what the third place play-off is for.
This year's candidate to lose that game, surely the World Cup's most meaningless match is Uruguay. They may have been a force in the early years of the competition's history when you could go to the pictures then down a couple of pints and still have change from a shilling (or some other weird denomination) after a fish supper, but not any more.
Although ranked at a respectable 16 in the world, Uruguay started the tournament at 100-1 and are still here largely because of a very favourable draw – although England could learn a thing or two from them about disposing of inferior opposition. The South Americans remain a huge price to beat Holland over 90 minutes – 6-1 when there are only two other possible outcomes (Holland win at 4-6 or draw at 27-10). Which says it all about the bookies' view of their chances.
And they're probably right. Holland pulled off a minor surprise with their defeat of tournament favourites Brazil and if they can beat the Samba boys, they really shouldn't have too much trouble with a side which only qualified for the finals by dint of a 2-1 play-off victory over Costa Rica.
The best hope for Uruguay against the Dutch will probably be to stick 11 men behind the ball and hope for a penalty shoot-out. But this was a team that beat Brazil and, as long as they suffer no hangover from that, they should win. The odds of 4-6 won't make anyone rich, though. I'd be inclined to take another chance on Arjen Robben scoring. He's a best priced 15-8 with Paddy Power, and he never passes it. Robben is due and he can score again against Uruguay. I also like the 6-1 available on a workmanlike 2-0 victory from a side that has been workmanlike and efficient all the way through. You could almost say they'd learnt something from their next-door neighbours. But, given the way the Dutch fans feel about Germany, I'll keep that one to myself for fear of getting lynched next time I order a pint of Oranjeboom.
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