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Rupert Wyman 8th Jan 2010 - 10:01

World Cup 2010: Group H

Group H contains the pre-tournament betting favourites Spain. Everyone will be expecting the European champions to easily progress past Chile, Switzerland and Honduras to reach the knockout phase of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Can the three outsiders in Group H prove their World Cup credentials and give Spain a run for their money?

Spain Chile Switzerland Honduras
FIFA Ranking 2 13 20 36
Appearances (Last) 12 (2006) 7 (1998) 8 (2006) 1 (1982)
Best result Fourth (50) Third (62) QF (34, 38, 54) Group stage (82)
-v- Spain - P7 W0 D1 P18 W0 D3 P1 W0 D1
-v- Chile P7 W6 D1 - P3 W2 D0 P5 W2 D0
-v- Switzerland P18 W15 D3 P3 W1 D0 - P0
-v- Honduras P1 W0 D1 P5 W3 D0 P0 -
Coach Vicente del Bosque Marcelo Bielsa Ottmar Hitzfeld Reinaldo Rueda
Star man David Villa Humberto Suazo Alexander Frei Wilson Palacios
To win Group H
1/4 (1.25) 9/2 (5.50) 10/1 (11.00) 33/1 (34.0)
To lift the cup
4/1 (5.00) 50/1 (51.00) 200/1 (201.00) 750/1 (751.00)


Here comes the Spanish Armada

The European champions Spain found qualification all too easy as they won UEFA Group 5 with a perfect record of 10 wins from 10 matches. They come into the World Cup as the tournament favourites at 5/1 and if they play like they have for the past two years then you will struggle to find a team to stop them.

People may be cautious at backing Spain at such odds though as at many World Cups before they have been fancied to go well only to disappoint, but this is a different Spanish team. They play the best football on the international stage and it is no surprise when they have the two favourites to be top goalscorer in the tournament in David Villa and Fernando Torres (both at 9/1.) The two strikers get an array of chances provided for them by the class of Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Xavi in midfield.

One of the Premier League's best, Cesc Fabregas, usually finds himself on the bench such is the talent at Vicente del Bosque's disposal.

However, Spain's biggest problem could be injuries as Fabregas, Iniesta and Torres all suffered bad injuries towards the end of the domestic campaigns.

Before the Spanish entertain ideas of lifting the trophy on 11 July they first have to negotiate themselves out of Group H. This should be a formality though as odds of 1/5 suggest and there can't be a bigger banker bet at the World Cup than this.


It might be cold but it won't be Chile in South Africa

Under the stewardship of Argentine Marcelo Bielsa, Chile impressively qualified for their first World Cup since France '98. La Roja finished second in the table, just one point behind Brazil.

Bielsa led his native Argentina in 2002 to the World Cup where his side were unceremoniously eliminated at the group stage by England and Sweden. He will therefore hope for better this time around and he should get it as Chile look the most likely threat to Spain in the group and at the very least the South Americans should finish in second. They are 9/2 second favourites to win the group.

Under Bielsa, Chile tend to play a 3-3-1-3 formation and they are widely regarded as one of the most attractive teams to watch as they have a commitment to attack with pace. Chile's weakness is defensively particularly in the air, but with Spain playing it on the ground this won't be exposed by the group favourites. Nevertheless they conceded 22 goals in qualifying and if you don't include the 1962 finals, which were hosted by Chile, then they have not won a match at a World Cup finals since 1950.

Therefore it may be optimistic to expect too much especially given their outright odds of a rather skinny 50/1.


Blunter than an army knife

Switzerland had the fortune to have a relatively easy qualifying group and as a result they finished top of the group to reach the World Cup finals for the second consecutive time. Back in 2006 they managed to reach the second round and realistically that is the best that they can hope for in South Africa.

In Germany they managed to finish above France and an even harder task faces them this time to top their group, in Spain. 10/1 is the price that they win the group.

Switzerland's main problem is they lack any superstars, especially in attack, although Alexander Frei is a Swiss legend and their all-time top goalscorer. Regardless they will have to rely on team cohesion and Hitzfeld's tactics to do anything against the better teams.



They will need a coup to go through

The outsiders in the group at a massive 33/1 are delighted just to be in South Africa as this is just the second time in their history they have made a finals. What is more impressive though is that they managed to qualify when the country was in turmoil following a military coup.

They qualified in the most dramatic of fashion as they won 1-0 against El Salvador in the last round of matches and then the USA scored a last-minute goal against Costa Rica to seal Honduras' qualification, at the expense of the Costa Ricans by virtue of a superior goal difference.

Honduras won't want to be just making up the numbers at the World Cup but one gets the impression that is what will happen despite them rapidly improving in recent times. They might well take inspiration from Trinidad & Tobago's effort in Germany four years ago when they took a point off Sweden and didn't disgrace themselves in losses to England and Paraguay.



This website is not associated, affiliated or connected in any way with FIFA, the World Cup 2010 Local Organising Committee, or the South African Football Association.


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