With all the major European leagues now completed and less than 30 days to go until the big one, thoughts are turning for many of us as to how we can win some money on the World Cup.
Articles on who will win the tournament and which hitman will claim the Golden Boot will likely be featured on a host of websites so we thought we would kick things off on 101gg from a different angle.
At every World Cup there is a team that bombs. France and Argentina in 2002 are two excellent examples and Italy in 1974 showed that even Fabio Capello has been on the receiving end of a horrible tournament and the ignominy of leaving before the knockout rounds start.
Good money can be secured by tipping a big team to fail to emerge from the group stages and here we present three candidates who could well bring the bucksâ€™ home by being rubbish.
Working on the assumption that Brazil (The Samba Boys are 6.50 not to make it out of Group G) and Spain (9.00 to fail to emerge from Group H) are the best two national teams in world football and that they will likely cruise their groups, if not make the final, a case can be made for other big nations not to make it through.
1. France fail to qualify from Group A: 3.50
Raymond Domenech. No introduction is needed to the man who is hugely lucky to be in a job. Les Bleus scraped through to the 2006 final thanks to Zinedine Zidane and if reports are to be believed the squad in Germany paid little attention to their woolly haired coach.
A lacklustre performance at Euro 2008 followed by a World Cup qualifying campaign that saw Thierry Henryâ€™s infamous handball see them past Republic of Ireland in a play-off they deserved to lose indicates all is not well in the French camp.
Whilst fingers have been pointed at Domenech, the players at his disposal are hardly in the best of form either. French captain Thierry Henry looks a shadow of his former Arsenal self and Franck Ribery has been carried by Bayern Munich this season rather than the other way round. Florent Malouda is the form attacking player but he is not guaranteed a starting berth and Karim Benzema has been left at home.
To round things off Les Bleus also face some tough opposition including Uruguay in their first game (with free scoring strikers Diego Forlan and Luis Suqrez), then a revitalised Mexico under Javier Aguirre and finally the hosts South Africa which could be a hugely tricky game just 11 days after the tournament starts.
2. England fail to qualify from Group C: 10.00
It was widely assumed that England received a favourable draw for the World Cup in South Africa but they have been included here simply because you can win biggest on the Three Lions failing to show up when it comes to the crunch.
First the negatives that have all England fans fretting in the build up to the World Cup. The lack of an obvious number one is an Achilles heel but this is worsened by the fact the first choice central defensive partnership includes the injury prone Rio Ferdinand and the out-of-form John Terry.
The midfield is still reliant on Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, the former had a poor season with Liverpool and the latter has never truly performed on the international stage. Throw in the injury to Gareth Barry, the fact Emile Heskey never scores and most importantly the reliance on Wayne Rooney and there is cause for concern.
Of course Don Fabio can be trusted to get it right but if Rooney doesnâ€™t play or isnâ€™t fully fit, USA, Slovenia and Algeria will be sniffing blood. America in particular could be key as they face England first; Bob Bradleyâ€™s side impressed at the Confederations Cup and are a team that is much greater than the sum of their parts. Likewise Algeria stunned a class Egypt outfit in their play-off and Slovenia have quality throughout their team with goalie Samir Handanovic one of the best up-and-coming keepers in Europe, Robert Koren experienced from his time with West Brom and Bundesliga-based strikers Milivoje Novakovic and Zlatko Dedic always dangerous.
3. Germany fail to qualify from Group D: 9.00
Deutschland getting knocked out the World Cup is always one of the most pleasing sights of the whole tournament (if it happens). Bulgaria in 1994 and Croatia in 1998 were classic games with the rest of the world cheering on the minnow.
In recent years Germany have reasserted themselves as a real force, reaching the final of 2002 and the semi-final on home turf last time out. They do though have internal problems with coach Jogi Low failing to agree a new deal which means he will be out of contract should his side reach the quarter finals of the competition in July.
The German squad does look strong and there are some up and coming players to watch out for (particularly Mesut Ozil and Manuel Neuer) but they do look weak in certain areas. Most notably up front where Kevin Kuranyi was surprisingly left out and the likes of Mario Gomez, Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose, who all struggled for goals over the past season, were included.
Group D also looks very tricky. Australia are unlikely to roll over in the opener as the Socceroos boast a number of quality players and are becoming more experienced on the big stage. Serbia meanwhile have some very strong defenders and could be one of the dark horses for the tournament and Ghana have a host of quality young players and will be keen to impress on African soil.
101gg predicts: Never bet for (or against) the Germans but France could be easy money and at least if England do screw you can console yourselves with some dosh.
Argentina (the Maradona factor), Portugal (in the Group of Death) and Italy (too many ageing players) may also be worth a flutter.
Full 2010 World Cup odds can be seen here.