Costa Rica v England betting
England's final group game against Costa Rica on Tuesday was supposed to be the opportunity for Roy Hodgson's men to clinch qualification for the last 16 after the more difficult openers against Italy and Uruguay, but the Central Americans have turned the group on its head and have the chance to go through as group winners.
Costa Rica were a 50/1 shot to win the group prior to the tournament, but can now be backed at just 1/5 after stunning and well-deserved victories over former winners Uruguay and Italy. Yet the betting for this match looks completely upside down, with England odds-on favourites to win.
Paddy Power are attempting to attract patriotic England supporters by offering the best odds of 17/20 about an England win, while Costa Rica can be backed at 18/5 with BetVictor and the draw is an appealing 29/10 chance with Bet365. It simply can’t be right that England, eliminated after two games for the first time in their history, can be clear favourites to win against a team who have been so impressive thus far.
The motivation for Costa Rica to win the group and avoid a second round clash with a strong Colombia side is clear, as they would surely much prefer to face one of Ivory Coast, Greece or Japan next. So even if coach Jorge Luis Pinto is tempted to rest players, there is good reason not to.
Instead it is Hodgson who may feel it prudent to change things around so he can start to look to the future and prepare for qualification for Euro 2016. England played well in their defeat to Italy in the opening game but their performance level certainly dipped against Uruguay and there were significant problems arising from both games.
The chief concern is the way the defence has switched off at key moments, affording vital space to Mario Balotelli and Luis Suarez to strike the crucial blows in the respective games, but also showing a lack of awareness of the dangers presented by set pieces.
It's not clear what Hodgson can do to rectify that issue - it's doubtful that Chris Smalling would be an upgrade on Phil Jagielka for example - and he also has to solve the problem of protecting his full-backs, with Leighton Baines in particular left exposed against Italy.
Joel Campbell has proved in the first two games that he can be a real threat to England down that left side with his searing pace, while Bryan Ruiz has looked a much cleverer player in this tournament that he ever managed to suggest while at Fulham. Just as they did against Uruguay and Italy, Costa Rica have the potential to be dangerous on the break.
Where England have shown greater promise is going forward, with Raheem Sterling proving that he can be a key player at international level and, when given the chance, Ross Barkley showing that he can be both responsible in possession and menacing when running at opposition defenders. It may take some time to identify the best roles for them both, however, and the clamour for Barkley to start the game may go unrewarded.
With weaknesses at the back but strength going forward, England's first two games have seen both teams score and 'over 2.5 goals' and that trend can continue here. Sky Bet and Paddy Power both offer 4/6 that both teams will score, but Bet365 and BetVictor quote 4/5 and in a competition full of attacking football that looks great value. The value looks more marginal in the 'Over 2.5 Goals' betting, where Coral and William Hill are paying 10/11.
Having scored 12 goals in his last 20 internationals and 40 in all for his country, Wayne Rooney remains England's most potent attacking weapon despite the debate about whether or not he should be in the team at all. He was unlucky not to score more than once against Uruguay and at 15/8 with BetVictor he looks a big price to get on the scoresheet again, especially as BetVictor will refund losing First/Last/Anytime Goalscorer, Correct Score, Half-Time/Full-Time and Scorecast bets on this game, if a penalty is scored.
|Yes||Both Teams To Score||4/5||Bet365 & BetVictor
|Wayne Rooney||Anytime Goalscorer||15/8||BetVictor*
* Money back on losing bets, as a free bet up to £25, if a penalty is scored