With just days to go before the start of the 2014 World Cup, Brazil remains a 3-1 favorite to be the first team to win a World Cup title on home turf since France in 1998.
A clean bill of health and home-field advantage contribute to Brazil’s favorite status. The same cannot be said for a number of squads heading to Brazil this week with key players on the sidelines.
Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has battled leg injuries all year, which kept him out of Portugal’s recent friendlies against Greece and Mexico. However, the Real Madrid forward, who owns odds of 12-1 to lead the tournament in goalscoring, arrived at Portugal’s camp under a ray of optimism that he will be ready for group-stage action.
He remains a favorite in another fun World Cup prop that projects which Real Madrid player will score the most goals for his national team.
Germany’s 11-2 odds make it the favorite European team in this year’s World Cup. However, a number of players are nursing ailments. Midfielder Marco Reus appeared to suffer an ankle injury in a recent friendly against Armenia.
The extent of the injury is not currently known, but a prolonged absence by Reus, who has 66-1 odds to be the World Cup’s leading goal-getter, would further complicate a difficult group stage for Germany.
Uruguay soccer fans were devastated to hear that star forward Luis Suarez underwent knee surgery two weeks ago, putting his World Cup participation in doubt. Uruguay has odds of 9-5 to win a difficult group that also features England and Italy.
Suarez, a forward with Liverpool, has odds of 18-1 to lead the tournament in scoring. He was expected to play a huge offensive role against England, which features a number of players from the English Premier League, including some of Suarez’s Liverpool teammates.
Injury woes could also impact Italy in the group stage. AC Milan captain and Azzurri midfielder Riccardo Montolivo broke his leg in a friendly against Ireland a week ago. To complicate matters, star midfielder Daniele De Rossi reportedly suffered an ankle injury in practice.
De Rossi, who sports odds of 66-1 to be the tournament’s leading scorer, is back with the squad. That is excellent news for an Italian team with 8-5 odds of winning Group D.
England’s Alex Oxlade Chamberlain is on the mend after suffering a knee injury in a recent friendly against Ecuador. The 20-year-old phenom is pegged at 16-1 to lead all Arsenal players in goals scored at the World Cup.
However, concerns exist that Oxlade Chamberlain will miss the group stage, which could impact England’s 4-7 odds of advancing to the round of 16.
Odds and stats courtesy of Odds Shark.