Every four years, soccer fans boil over with excitement, painting their faces, strapping down their beer guts with skin-tight jerseys, and driving around honking their horns with flags flying out the passenger window. And every four years, you feel like punching those people in the face.
You hate soccer.
You hate soccer like little kids hate Brussels sprouts. You hate soccer – or futebol (gag!) – like Dan Marino hates Boomer Esiason. You hate soccer like Celtic hates Rangers. And if you get that reference, then there are legions of anti-footy fans that hate your stupid little face.
However, if you’re a sports bettor who just so happens to hold soccer in the same light as dentists and ex-wives, you know you don’t stand a chance when it comes to the World Cup.
It’s on ESPN, Fox Sports 1, taking up space in your local sports section, and infiltrating your favorite sports bars and watering holes. And, it’s probably front and center whenever you stroll into the casino or log into your online book. Or at least it will be when the tournament kicks off Thursday.
Since the NBA and NHL playoffs are coming to a close, and baseball is months away from being interesting, the World Cup is the only show in town.
But rather than do the desperate thing – and start betting on the WNBA – join the dark side. As the Emperor said to Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi, “Use your aggressive feelings, boy. Let the hate flow through you... your hate has made you powerful.”
Here’s everything you hate about the "Beautiful Game" and how to wager on it in our "Soccer Haters’ Guide to Betting the 2014 World Cup":
Soldiers describe war as long periods of boredom punctuated by short moments of excitement. Soccer is the same way. But, for soccer haters, the only war going on during a match is the battle between your eye lids and gravity as you fight to stay awake.
To quote the great Krusty the Clown, "Come on, you shnorers! Do something!"
Teams like Croatia bring the action to a snail’s pace, making for the longest 90 minutes of your sports betting life. So perhaps you want to stick to games involving squads like Germany (scored 16 goals in 2010), Spain (217 international goals on the roster) and the Netherlands (Wesley Sneijder and Robin Van Persie combine for 69 international goals), who quicken the pace with tremendous ball movement and scoring.
Throwing down a little coin on the Over/Under is a quick way to get your heart beating, even if the players on the field aren’t breaking a sweat.
Whoa! Hold on to your hats – a 2-1 final!
Soccer isn’t known for its wild high-scoring action. Hell, soccer isn’t known for scoring at all. No wonder these guys go ape shit, like Rod Tidwell on Monday Night Football, every time someone cracks the goal line.
The 2010 World Cup saw 145 goals for a yawn-inducing 2.27 goals per game. That was two less than the 147 netted in 2006. Oddsmakers at Pinnacle Sports are feeling optimistic, setting the 2014 tournament total at 155 goals (Over -117/Under +100).
The premium on goals can also kill your bets before the game is even over. A 2-0 deficit - which is nothing to scale in hockey and baseball - is pretty much a death sentence in soccer, even if there is more than an hour left on the clock. Teams grabbing early leads will stack the back line and play keep-away from the losing side until the whistle sounds.
At least you can put yourself out of your misery and turn the channel to something else, knowing you’re likely not missing the comeback of the tournament.
Stats – or lack thereof
If you’ve been betting baseball since April, you live on Covers’ daily MLB matchup pages - digging through stacks and stacks of pitching numbers, situational stats and betting trends.
A good chunk of you probably wager with some sort of statistical model, using complex algorithms that would make “Good” Will Hunting spit take his Sam Adams all over Chucky’s face.
If you’re looking to break down your World Cup wagers using the help of in-depth stats and formulas, you may just want to stick to MLB odds. Finding stats and records that actually hold water is tough when a tournament comes around only once every four years and international rosters change faces more than Nicole Kidman.
That’s not to say the sports stats egg heads haven’t tried. Stats are out there but whether or not they apply to what happens in Brazil is another thing.
What kind of a sport doesn’t overkill its fans with tons and tons of stats? What the hell are you supposed to talk about when you’re watching the games at the bar – feelings?
This is the weapon of choice for every soccer hater.
When you’re used to your sports heroes getting cracked over the head or driven half a foot into the turf only to bounce back up and not miss a play, you have a little disdain for the soccer player’s antics.
Writhing around on the ground like they were Kane from Alien with a chestburster popping through their ribcage after an opponent merely stepped in front of them. It’s enough to make most hardnosed football fans (we’re talking pigskin not pig bladder) throw up in their mouths a little.
Just like flopping is a part of taking a charge in basketball, diving is part of drawing better field position in soccer. And some countries are much better at it than others - or at least do it more frequently. It’s no surprise those teams are among the top contenders for the World Cup.
Italy, Brazil, Portugal, Spain, and Argentina are all well known divers, headlined by names like Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, and Sergio Busquets – all of which chew more scenery than Nicholas Cage when given the slightest nudge.
However, the top offenders are being mocked by 888Sports.com's prop odds. Uruguay’s Luis Suarez is priced at 7/2, Netherlands star Arjen Robben is listed at 4/1, and England’s Daniel Sturridge is at 11/1 to be carded for diving during the World Cup.
Draws and Penalty kicks
You wouldn’t decide Game 7 between the Heat and Spurs with a foul shot competition would you? Or turn the fate of Super Bowl XLVIII over to the legs of kickers Steven Hauschka and Matt Prater for a head-to-head field goal showdown?
So why in the Wide World of Sports would you decide the biggest games in the universe – or so those annoying soccer fans would lead us to believe – on penalty kicks?
This is something our 13-year-old daughters could score on while still holding their glitter-encrusted iPhones and texting their friend Megan about how her “stupid dad keeps yelling at the soccer players on the TV. OMG!!!!! Sooooo embarrassing!!! :S”
And before we even get to penalty kicks, World Cup bettors have to suffer through a Group Stage loaded with draw after draw – which is the sports equivalent of kissing your sister. At least you can bet a draw, which doesn’t sting as much as pushing with the five-goal total in a hockey game night after night.
According to SportingCharts.com, 27 percent of Group Stage games since the 1986 World Cup have ended in draws – that’s one in four matches. They also worked out that since 1986, 38 percent of those games that didn’t draw finished with a one-goal differential.
Draws often come with a plus-money price tag, so if you just can’t stand the thought of sitting through a tie game, there's a silver lining. And if you fear getting burned by penalty kicks in the elimination rounds, most books offer strict 90-minute odds – another reason you may want to change your tune when it comes to draws.
Your sister's not that ugly after all...
What else do you hate about soccer and how are you wagering on the action in Brazil? Let us know in the comment section below.