No Premier League side will be better represented in Brazil this summer than Chelsea with no fewer than 16 of Jose Mourinho’s squad set to make the trip across the Atlantic. Football writer Tom Powell assesses the chances of success for the Chelsea travellers and looks at the World Cup odds surrounding them and their countries…
A Whole Host of Brazilians
It may surprise a few to learn that the Brazilian squad has more players from Chelsea than from any other club team with four players in former Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari’s final squad. The host nation’s midfield could be littered with Chelsea men with Ramires, Willian and Oscar all set to be involved while David Luiz could also be involved though he hasn’t played for his country since the Confederations Cup semi-final last year.
Of the aforementioned players it’s Oscar whose touted to have the most impact with odds of 12/1 available on the midfielder top scoring for his country and 33/1 available on him winning the Golden Ball. Brazil – with their Chelsea cohorts – are 3/1 favourites to be the first winning host nation since 1998.
Loan Stars to Boost Belgium
After Brazil it’s Belgium who contain the most Chelsea interest, especially considering two of the three men in Marc Wilmots’ final squad could be returning to Stamford Bridge from successful loan spells last campaign. Thibaut Courtois looks to have won the race to start in goal for the much fancied Belgians while an injury to Christian Benteke means Romelu Lukaku is almost certain to start up front.
You probably won’t get big odds on a Chelsea man top scoring for Belgium with Lukaku (2/1) and Hazard (5/1) the top two in the betting but you can still get odds as big as 20/1 on Belgium winning the World Cup.
More Top Scoring Blues?
Two more countries that could see a few goals from a pair of Chelsea forwards are Spain and Cameroon, though after a troublesome season leading the Blues’ line few may be looking to back Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o to hit the goal trail.
However, Torres did top score for Spain in last year’s Confederations Cup and he is 12/1 to grab the most Spanish goals and 66/1 to top score in the whole tournament. Eto’o’s international tally of 55 in 115 matches is unquestionable and with little opposition up front for the Indomitable Lions he could still be value to be Cameroon’s top scorer at 4/1.
Andre Schurrle managed more goals than Torres and just one less than Eto’o this season but may struggle for game time for Germany though Victor Moses – on loan at Liverpool last year – and Jon Obi Mikel should start for a Nigeria side who look value to be top African team at 4/1.
Three Lions and Two Chelsea Heroes
Then there are England’s two representatives, one who was guaranteed to be on the plane and another who is perhaps a touch lucky to have made Roy Hodgson’s final 23.
Gary Cahill started England’s crucial last four matches and helped his side to three clean sheets and is certain to partner Phil Jagielka at the back in the opening match against Italy with best odds of 1/14 available on that happening.
Frank Lampard is a huge price 6/1 to line up in Manaus, with the bookmakers suggesting the central midfield partnership will be Steven Gerrard and one of Jack Wilshere or Jordan Henderson. England are 4/6 to qualify for the knockout stage and 5/4 to be eliminated in the group stage.
And the rest …
That leaves two more Chelsea players heading to Brazil this summer though both could be doing more watching than playing.
Cezar Azpilicueta has been a revelation filling in at left back for the Blues this term but he has to fight for a place in Spain’s defence with the likes of Juanfran, Jordi Alba, Dani Carvajal and Alberto Moreno for one of the full-back berths. Spain are 7/1 to retain the World Cup.
Lastly, Patrick Van Aanholt has snuck his way into Louis Van Gaal’s Dutch squad after an impressive season on loan at Vitesse. Holland look weak at the back which could open the door for the left-back to earn some playing time but Holland NOT to qualify from Group B looks value at 11/8 with Chile and Spain imposing opposition.