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World Cup Countdown: Could Europe dominate the group stages?

| 15.05.2014

With the World Cup being held in South America in just 27 days time, all the talk surrounding who’ll do well in the group stages surrounds teams from that part of the world.

However, as part of their daily World Cup countdown, Ladbrokes are willing to take on the Brazils and Argentinas of the tournament by offering 27/1 that Europeans top seven of the eight groups.

Since the globally-adored tournament moved to its current eight-group format in 1998, seven European sides have never topped the group stages.

Germany’s 2006 tournament is the closest the bet has ever come to landing, with six European nations progressing to the knockout stage as group winners.

That seems fairly rudimentary given that the footballing festivities were held in their own continent, but there is a slight cause for optimism given how European sides fared in the first round the last time the World Cup was held in South America.

In 1978, Argentina were the privileged hosts and although the participating nations were only split into four groups, three of them were won by European sides.

Fast forward to 2014 and there are really only two nations to worry about as far as the 27/1-shot is concerned.

Greece, who are the 7/1 outsiders to win Group C, have already been highlighted as low-scorers coming into the tournament and may struggle to lead Colombia, Ivory Coast and Japan into the second round.

In Group F, Bosnia face a tough task beating Argentina but, with Iran and Nigeria, don’t have as many teams to worry about as the unfancied Ethniki in Group C.

Croatia’s mission in Group A pits them against hosts Brazil, but you just never know what the pressure of such an expectant fan-base could do to Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side.

Every other group in the competition has two European representatives, severely boosting the chances of one of them helping this special-priced punt.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.