The World Cup is now just around the corner as bookmakers release their new free bets offers, including Bet465, Paddy Power Ladbrokes and more.
With almost £1bn to be wagered throughout the tournament the bookies are itching for new customers – and there are plenty of opportunities to pick up some nice incentives.
Our Top 5 World Cup free bets :
- £200 free bets from Bet365 + money back if the game finishes 0-0!
- Neymar 4/1 to score anytime tonight against Croatia from Paddy Power!
- Brazil to play in YELLOW shirts against Croatia – 2/1 with Coral!
- £100 free from Ladbrokes to spend on any game!
- Brazil 2/1 to beat Croatia tonight from Winner.com!
So how do we rate England’s chances?
Most people know the England drill by now; appear to be sailing to qualification, make it nervy towards the end but get over the line, look uninspiring in the build-up, have a major star hit with injury before or at the start of the tournament, just about get through the group stages and then exit via a penalty shootout with the tournament villain identified with England’s last kick of a game.
The script already appears to be written. However this summer there appears to be something different about Roy Hodgson’s team. The unassuming manager has built a rather unassuming team. Sure there are stars in there, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard are established worldwide names however by and large this is very much an inexperienced squad.
So much so that expectations amongst the England football fraternity are low. They don’t expect much and that could suit Hodgson, a manager that during spells at Switzerland, Fulham and WBA worked better when he was the underdog.
Given his experience and standing in the English game it is surprising to find that Rooney is not the key man for England. The Manchester United forward named on the twitter World Cup XI, a team based on search results and mentions on the social platform, has struggled in the white of his country in recent games, so much so there are real doubts as to whether he will start in the first game against Italy.
The emergence of Daniel Sturridge as a striker of international class, enhanced further by his strike against Peru in the Wembley farewell game has taken the spotlight off Rooney. The Liverpool striker is not without his confidence and if he gets the service can be one of the stars of the World Cup.
So too can Raheem Sterling. The Liverpool winger/attacking midfielder has developed into one of the brightest young talents in the game and with pace to burn, a newly acquired physical presence, strong defensive ethics and fantastic dribbling technique he looks set for a big career.
While that career has emerged in the last 18 months, it looks set to move up a notch with a starring role this summer. Sterling is comfortable in a 4-3-3 or as an out and out winger in a 4-4-2 and if given the chance by Roy Hodgson could add real value to the England team.
At the back, Gary Cahill has stepped into the voids left by Rio Ferdinand and John Terry in recent years. The former Bolton defender looked world class at the back of Chelsea last season and while Terry received much of the plaudits the 28 year old was just as important to the Blues defence.
As the most experienced of England’s back four Hodgson will need his all top level experience as he sets about keeping the attacks of Uruguay and Italy at bay.
At the moment it is hard to see beyond the group stage and surely given the inexperience in the squad progress to the knock out part of the tournament would be viewed as a real success. The opening game with Italy will tell a lot of where England are at.
The Italian’s are notorious slow starters at tournament although given their form in qualifying that may have quashed that myth. If the Three Lions can get a result against the Italians then it would put them in a strong position and means that a good result against Costa Rica could seal progress.
The clash with Uruguay in the middle of both of those games will pit Cahill and Co against Edinson Cavani and possibly Luis Suarez, if he can overcome injury, and given the South American climate, more localised support and the strength of Oscar Tabarez’ side this game will be England’s most difficult.
Four (win and a draw) or five (win and two draws) points could be enough to seal a runners up spot and set up a clash with the winner of Group D which includes Ivory Coast, Japan, Greece and Colombia. If they can get that far then it would appear they would face a quarter-final with Brazil, which given their status as favourites automatically means an exit. Of course if they can win the group, the quarter-final (assuming progress against weaker group C opponents) would be Spain. It’s catch 22 although either way Hodgson’s under-dog card will play out nicely.
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion), Fraser Forster (Celtic).
Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Southampton), Chris Smalling (Manchester United).
Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Everton), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Southampton), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Manchester City), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal).
Forwards: Rickie Lambert (Southampton), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United).