Belgium and Colombia may be international football’s flavours of the month, but with the pair as short as 12/1 and 20/1 in the World Cup 2014 betting, established knockout stage side Portugal rate a far more alluring bet from a value point of view.
Europe’s Seleccao are as long as 40/1 to lift the trophy for the first time, a price which will look absurd when they eventually nail down their tickets to the land of Samba.
Golden generations can melt under the weight of expectation, as Colombia know only too well.
Belgium’s current bumper crop are hardly brimming over with previous international experience to offset the pressure of public anticipation having not qualified for a World Cup or European Championships since 2002.
Meanwhile the Coffee Growers have been here before, when well-fancied outsiders for USA 1994 after a similarly impressive qualifying campaign, only to fall at the group stage.
Portugal have reached at least the quarter-finals in four of their last five international tournaments.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s countrymen have a huge wealth of collective experience after falling at the penultimate hurdle at Euro 2012 under current boss Paulo Bento.
On the one occasion during the last five tournaments in which they failed to get beyond the round of 16, it was a perilously close 1-0 loss to eventual world champions Spain which halted their progress.
That narrow defeat merely hints at their recent role as the kingmakers of international football.
They’ve lost to the eventual winners in four of the last six major tournaments, with the losing finalists eliminating them on the other two occasions.
The 40/1 won’t be seen for dust when Portuguese qualification questions have been answered affirmatively.
Paulo Bento’s men will need a slip up from Russia to avoid having to go into the play-offs to assure qualification for next year’s shindig, but thanks to a FIFA seeding system seemingly designed to aid the big sides they should be in Brazil.
Once they secure a positive result against one of the four lower-seeded teams in the knock-out pot the 40/1 about a side with such a strong recent major tournament pedigree will be long gone.