I have to feel a certain amount of sympathy for the wife. I know she doesn`t enjoy me constantly discussing football, she`s Scottish. Over the last few weeks I`ve bored her to tears with my thoughts on seven foot strikers, Wayne Rooney`s foot and the merits of a fifth striker. She does occasionally take an interest though, I heard her on the phone to her mother discussing the need for a man in the hole. Luckily for my Buckfast swilling spouse, it`s finally time for the talking to stop and for the action to begin.
England head in to their opener against Paraguay on the back of a superb performance against Jamaica. Admittedly, Jamaica are not Brazil, but a six goal shoeing remains a six goal shoeing. A confident England look a great bet at 4/7 to kick off their campaign with a win.
Sven looks set to play a 4-4-2, and it`s that middle 4 that will win the match for England. Joe Cole, Gerrard, Lampard and Beckham all look in fine form, Becks can actually land a football on a penny from 60 yards, he`s quite tight like that. Golden Balls is a tasty 10/1 shot to net the opener.
The robotic goal machine formerly known as Peter Crouch looks certain to start, and although I`m not his biggest fan, I am a supporter of the 'follow the striker in form` philosophy; the body popping beanpole is available at 6/4 to net at any time.
It`s a shame that our Scottish brethren will not be participating in the finals, and to add insult to injury, UK Gold have shelved plans to show matches from their last finals appearance back in (19)'98, claiming Paramount was a more natural home, allegedly.
On a brighter note, the tartan army can get behind Trinidad & Tobago player Jason Scotland; although that too looks likely to end in tears as the Swedes are certainties to see off the Caribbean islanders on Saturday afternoon. At skinny odds of 1/4, you won`t be able to buy a yacht with your winnings, unless of course, you are wagering 80% of the cost of a yacht.
Saturday`s action concludes with Argentina v Ivory Coast. The Argies are my pick for the whole shooting match, so I can`t see Drogba`s mob causing an upset. Riquelme has been described by the country`s leading betting expert as a genius and he`s surrounded by players of a similar ilk. Playing on Crespo & co at 4/7 will pay for the Saturday night curry; join me in an Argy bhaji.
I always thought the 'group of death` referred to married men, but it`s a sporting cliché as old as Helen Chamberlain herself. Sunday`s early match will see Serbia & Montenegro and Holland fight for the honour of joining Argentina in the knockout stages. Any team that has the word beer in their name has to be respected, but I prefer orange; the Dutch should be backed at 5/6.
Sunday`s action continues with Mexico v Iran, in a match that could be a play-off for the nation that dislikes America the most, with presumably the French playing the winners. The Mexicans can wave goodbye to the Iranian dream, 8/15 is on offer.
Here`s a dull stat, the first player to ever score a hat-trick in the World Cup was a Yank. Here`s an interesting fact, the Yanks are not the 5th Best team in the world, even though those bureaucrats at FIFA would suggest otherwise. The Czech Republic are available at 10/11 to see off the USA on Monday, jump on it like it was a bouncy castle with a lager roof.
Another excellent betting proposition presents itself on Monday, when Australia meet Japan in group F. The Aussies are available at a huge 11/8, that`s enough to buy plenty of shrimp for the barbie, or a few surfboards, or cricket bats for local immigrants.
By Rob The Bookie
Manager Tim Sherwood has spoken of his disappointment - and shouldered the blame - for today's one nil loss to Stoke City.
All the stats from Aston Villa (0) vs (1) Stoke, Villa Park, 3/10/15 Att: 33,189
Statistics, damn lies and Aston Villa..
Bit of a mix and match today from manager Tim Sherwood's pre Stoke press conference.
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