While you can't win this trophy, you can sure win some bets. @FIFAWorldCup verified Twitter account
There is an obsession with possessing the 11 pounds of 18-carat gold that is only offered every four years. Some say playing for your country is the greatest feat one can accomplish, a chance to represent your roots and homeland.
No stage is more significant than that of the FIFA World Cup; the wait is over. Welcome to Russia!
LATEST ODDS TO WIN 2018 WORLD CUP
Egypt . +15000
Serbia . +20000
Nigeria . +20000
Costa Rica +30000
South Kore +50000
Panama . +100000
Saudi Arabia +100000
Some of the odds have changed with some places having Brazil as slightly the lone favorite.
Be attentive of the news coming out of Spain as news is breaking that they might sack their manager before the start of the World Cup. Julen Lopetegui announced recently that he would be taking over the Real Madrid vacancy, the way he went about the process didn't sit well with the Spanish FA and there are rumors of him being fired with less than 24 hours until the kickoff of the tournament.
Mexico - Team Stage of Elimination
Round of 16 +200
I like this wager for the reason I think that Mexico will advance out of this group with the second spot. Although this would be a great accomplishment, failing to win Group F matches you up with no other than tournament Favorite Brazil. El Tri advance and lose in the round of 16 to Brazil.
Brazil reaches the semifinal -102
As mentioned above, I think Brazil wins their group matching them up with CONCACAF representer Mexico. A win there matches them up potentially with Belgium. Playing a Roberto Martinez led team that is historically known for attacking and leaving spaces will be the end of Belgium, seeing Brazil through to a South American clash with Uruguay.
Uruguay stage one points over 6½ -104
Listed as a MAX pre-tournament bet, Uruguay to win the group will be tied into over 6.5 group points. In this tournament, a win is worth 3 points a draw 1. With that in mind, I see the South Americans winning their first two group games, seeing them face up against the host in the final group game. The only worry here will be that if Uruguay has already clinched the top spot in the group, they may opt to rest players in the final group game. Still, I think they have enough to pull out a draw vs. a Russian squad who will potentially be eliminated at this point.
Brazil stage one points over 7½ +150 3U
This bet, plain and simple. Brazil will run through the group stage accumulating 9 group points. Even if qualified for the round of 16 going into their third match, Serbia is a very favorable match-up to get the final 3 points to win this wager. I like this bet quite a bit.
Peru total World Cup goals over 3 -160
Group C is one I see plenty of high scoring affairs in. I also have expressed my love for this Peruvian team, and I think they can score more than three goals through the group stage. Paolo Guerrero's return will be a story line to follow in Russia, look for him to be one of the top goal scorers of the tournament.
Belgium stage one points over 6½
This comes back to my predictions of Belgium taking the group. The first two matches I see as a relatively easy 6 points. The final game of the group stages will see England and Belgium fight for the top spot in the group. A draw in the final game will see this bet cash if Belgium wins the first two games as predicted.
Neymar wins Golden Ball +795
This is Neymar's tournament to shine, and he will do just that. Look for the Brazilian start to light up the pitch, find different props on him as he will be a stud this tournament. The Golden Ball goes to the best player, the Golden Boot, to the top goal scorer. We like this bet rather than the top goal scorer as he is likely to see extra attention at times, leaving him open to also get assists throughout the tournament. Goals and assists on a team that will be playing deep in the tournament is the perfect recipe for the best player in the Cup. Another bet I saw was will the top goal scorer in the tournament be Brazilian? -300. If Brazil is favored that heavily to have the top scorer than Neymar should top the list.
Argentina - Top Team Goals corer
Juicy, but justified. The horse for the Argentine National team, the world best #10 is known to carry this team time after time. Four goals in Brazil 2014, look for Lionel Messi to pick up where he left off and lead Argentina through the tournament.
Peru - Top Team Goalscorer
Paolo Guerrero +200 2U
Another value bet, as he is the teams leading scorer and we saw that in his return after getting his ban lifted. Nothing short of spectacular netting two goals.
Paolo Guerrero - Total Goals O/U .5 Over 2U
The wager is basically will he score this World cup with the total sitting at .5
England - Top Team Goalscorer
Fresh off the big resigning with Tottenham, we take a shot with the English top target. A lethal finisher from any spot, look for Kane to put his stamp all over Russia in 2018. Raheem Sterling is the other player who could lead the team, but I see Kane being the beneficiary of Sterling's pace and ability to get England out in open space with the ball.
Colombia - Top Team Goalscorer
Radamel Falcao +250
El Tigre waited four years to get his chance once again to represent Colombia in a World Cup. Remember a time going into Brazil 2014, where Falcao was deemed as one of the best finishers in the world at that moment, and James Rodriguez was more of a sidekick. An injury vs. a third division player in one of his last games with his club team before getting ready for Brazil 2014, saw him miss his chance to play in a World Cup. Look for a Tigre to be reborn in Russia.
The World's greatest sporting event is finally here, and a wise man once told me: “Soccer, is a sickness we are all born with, but in sickness and in health, ALWAYS TOGETHER “
RIP DAD, wherever you are…...
Houston Astros skipper Joe Espada wasted no time this week at spring training by answering one of the most talked about questions of the offseason.
Espada revealed that newly-acquired free agent Josh Hader will be the team's closer and will pitch the ninth inning, with Ryan Pressly working as the setup man.
Bryan Abreu will be tapped to pitch the seventh inning, but it wouldn't shock anyone if he had the best season of the three. But after Abreu, things get interesting in the bullpen.
Who pitches the sixth inning?
Astros GM Dana Brown gave Rafael Montero a vote of confidence, saying he's “legit.”
While we have our concerns about Montero after he finished with an ERA over five last year, there's reason for hope. The nature of relief pitchers halving up and down seasons from year to year could work in Montero's favor.
And with the salary that's already committed to him, Brown will likely give him every opportunity to justify his contract. It will be fascinating to see how Espada deploys him early on. You have to think with the boss man backing Montero, Espada will be on board too.
But if he does struggle, will Espada quickly stop using him in critical situations? The good news is, the team won't often have to turn to him in high leverage situations with Abreu, Pressly, and Hader ready to handle those duties.
Be sure to watch the video above for the full discussion about the Astros 'pen, and much more!
Don't miss Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every week on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel!