NZME's award winning* football blog Goalmouth Scramble is back. Our rotating stable of football writers will offer daily hot takes on all the action from the World Cup in Russia. Today, Steven Holloway tries to work out where all his money went.


For many sports bettors, this World Cup has caused some sleepless nights. For me, it's been a financial nightmare.

I was reminded of this last week by two internet trolls. The first was Twitter user @frofessor who tactfully reminded me my 'best bets of the World Cup' column was total trash.

The second was by award winning journalist and troll, Dylan Cleaver. Cleaver had forced me, against my will, to complete a wall-chart prior to the Round of 16, detailing all my future projections. He smugly called on Monday morning to ask how I thought my Spain-Serbia semi-final would play out. About as well as my 'Brazil v Uruguay', I replied.

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(Cleaver gleefully pointed out he had predicted both Croatia v England and Belgium v France semi-finals, but in the interests of balance I should mention his 'my last $10' Midweek Fixture tips could have bankrupted a small nation)

So where did it go so wrong? Well, to start with anyone who wagered any serious money on the below happening, is either lying or rich:

- Mexico to beat Germany in first round
- Germany to be eliminated in group stage
- South Korea to beat Germany
- Russia to knock out Spain
- England to make semi-finals with Harry Kane leading golden boot race

I got all those wrong, and my 'daily' picks were often way off base too. I backed African teams, I thought Panama v England would be low scoring, I thought Sweden and England was destined for 0-0. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

But it didn't stop me confidently predicting the semi-final results like some delusional, pissed up Nostradamus.

The foundation for my horror World Cup was laid with this column, published a week out from the World Cup titled: The best bets of the World Cup
Lets look at the results:
Outright winner
10 units on Spain @$6.50 (TAB), @$7 (Bet365)

Oh boy. I don't want to just sit here and make excuses but I feel like I've got a good one here. This bet was made before the Spanish Football Association decided to self-destruct on the eve of the tournament and fire their coach. Spain were average for large parts of the tournament and had no cutting edge in their dire 1-1 draw with Russia, but surely, surely, Julian Lopetegui would have provided a better alternative to Fernando Hierro's 'just keep passing sideways and see if you can get to 1000 passes' strategy. I think the age-old question 'should you fire your coach 48 hours before your first game of the World Cup?' has finally been answered. No.

Group bets:
20 units on Uruguay to win Group A @$1.80 (TAB), @$2 (Bet365)
Bazinga.

10 units on Egypt to qualify @$2.40 (TAB), @$2.50 (Bet365)
Ehh. Not my best work. I didn't think Russia would be so strong and Egypt so poor. Mohammed Salah's fitness didn't help but I think we can chalk this up to a bad bet.

10 units Peru to qualify @$2.70 (TAB), @2.75 (Bet365)
Mate, Peru played some great footy. They comfortably rolled Aussie 2-0, but lost 1-0 to both France and Denmark. Happy with the bet though. I'm confident if we created a simulation where we ran this World Cup 10 times, Peru would qualify in four of them. Prove me wrong!

Golden Boot
4 units Gabriel Jesus @$15.00 (TAB), @$17.00 (Bet365)
What a shocker. 0 goals in 5 games from Jesus, despite starting up front in every one. He didn't ever really look like scoring either. I think if we ran a World Cup simulation 10 times he still wouldn't score a goal. My bad guys.

4 units Timo Werner @$15 (TAB), @$15 (Bet365)
Even worse. Well, not really worse because they both scored 0 goals but Werner looked the most toothless German striker I've seen at a World Cup in my lifetime.

4 units Antoine Griezmann @$11 (TAB), @$13 (Bet365)
Still alive! Griezmann has scored three goals so just needs a hat-trick, then one more to beat Harry Kane. Ok fine, this is a loser too - but three goals with two games to play is respectable.

Golden Ball
3 units Andres Iniesta @$41 (Bet365)
This bet relied on Spain not participating in the world's worst game when they were eliminated by Russia on penalties. Iniesta was on the bench for this game, THE BENCH! Refer to my earlier comments about the importance of a good coach. Meh.

Denmark top scorer
10 units Christian Eriksen @$3 (Bet365)
A winner! Three players scored a single goal for Denmark and Eriksen was one of them. Time for a pat on the back...

Total penalty shootouts
10 units 4-5 games @$4.00 (TAB)
Ok, now this is looking like a good bet. There have been four penalty shootouts so far with four games remaining. My tipping reputation rests on this bet. NO MORE PENALTIES PEOPLE.

In conclusion:
85 units wagered
46 units returned
1 bet outstanding. If this bet wins I will return a one unit profit on the tournament.

There is light at the end of the darkness.

*Goalmouth Scramble's "award" was more of an inter-company acknowledgement in an email from 2012.
Previously, on Goalmouth Scramble:
Joel Kulasingham: Why Belgium v Brazil is the sports event of the year
Niall Anderson: 10 things to do when there's no World Cup games to watch
Chris Rattue: Why England haven't got a hope of winning the World Cup
Damien Venuto: Why the world might want England to lose
Steven Holloway: 10 thoughts on the World Cup, and why Neymar is a d**k
Damien Venuto: The villains of the World Cup
Joel Kulasingham: The 11 All Blacks who would dominate* the FIFA World Cup
Chris Rattue: Bring on the penalty shootouts
Niall Anderson: So, uh, which of these World Cup teams are actually good?
Steven Holloway: Funbag: Messi and World Cup conspiracy theories
Michael Burgess: Why I'm missing Sepp Blatter
Cam McMillan: The far too early second round projections
David Leggat: A few things you need to know about the World Cup
Damien Venuto: Messi - The Argentinean Andrew Mehrtens?
Cam McMillan: Why Brazil will (and won't) win the World Cup
Niall Anderson: The best (and worst) games to watch
Chris Rattue: Funny footballs and goalkeepers
Chris Rattue: The big World Cup questions
Steven Holloway: Fancy a punt? The World Cup's best bets