World Cup favourite’s Spain play Switzerland in their opening game at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban on Wednesday afternoon.
Despite not kicking a ball, bookmakers have shortened Spain’s betting odds to win the World Cup from 9/2 since the tournament started; best odds available are now 7/2 with Betfred, Bodog, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power.
Since beating England 1-0 in February 2007, Spain have played 48 games, won 44 and lost just once.
Within that sequence, they won the 2008 European Championship and qualified for the World Cup with an unprecedented 10 straight wins. Bet365 and Betfred offer odds of 6/4 Spain for a similar achievement and take the maximum 9 points from Group H.
Despite Fernando Torres and Andres Iniesta expected to watch from the bench against Switzerland tomorrow, the depth and quality in the Spanish squad suggests a straight forward victory. Bookmakers are only prepared to offer odds of 2/7 for a Spanish win and it is difficult to find a reason to oppose their view.
What slim chance Switzerland held of causing an upset against Spain has been further reduced following confirmation that Alex Frei is ruled out with an ankle injury, encouraging bookmaker Victor Chandler to offer odds of 16/1 for a Swiss victory.
Frei, who has scored 40 international goals in only 73 matches, has not trained since Switzerland have arrived in South Africa although Ottmar Hitzfeld has dismissed as “absurd” suggestions that his star player is out for the entire tournament.
West Ham’s Valon Behrami is also missing for Switzerland but should return against Chile.