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Betting Blog: CL returns

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Back Messi for a World Cup hat-trick

Messi wasn't on top form but his goal was the difference for Argentina on Sunday.
Lionel Messi netted in Argentina's opening win over Bosnia -- and should be backed to be among the goals against Iran.

Iran might not have earned too many column inches over the first week of the World Cup but they have nevertheless received plenty of praise for the coaching ability of Carlos Queiroz. The former Manchester United assistant has got them organised superbly and they did well to earn a point in their opening match -- in itself huge progress on recent campaigns. The problem for them now, though, is that they're not an unknown quantity any more and have to contend with Argentina in their next match.

Lionel Messi and company didn't play that well against Bosnia but the Barcelona superstar scored a fine goal and the chances are he will get better from here.

So, the dilemma is whether you believe Iran are good enough to keep Argentina out. I doubt it. And more pertinently, I doubt they can stop Messi either. The little magician is a man who thrives on confidence and his goal in the opener should have boosted that, so I would not be surprised to see a hat-trick here. Bet365 go 7/1 that he scores three or more and that's worth a punt in a game where value is lacking.

Germany looked in ominous form against Portugal -- albeit with 11 against 10 for much of it -- and they will be confident of beating a Ghana side beaten by the USA in their opening fixture. The Germans play with a "false nine" but the man who invariably ends up in the box is Thomas Mueller and he is excellent value with Bet365 at 4/5 to score at any time.

The United States did superbly well to find a late winner against Ghana in their opening match and I fancy them to cause another upset, of a kind, when they play Portugal on Sunday. The Portuguese are reeling after their thumping by Germany, even if being down to 10 men obviously left them open.

But for all their talent, they are not a top team and in terms of fitness and team spirit, the USA have the edge. They are loving the World Cup, it seems, and really believe they can get out of the group. Organised and willing to run to the end, they will give it everything and Bet365's 15/4 on them winning is a big price given what we have seen so far. If you're feeling a bit more conservative, the 20/21 on a draw or a USA win might be more tempting.

Belgium started slowly in their first match but came good late on and with the nerves gone, they ought to be good enough to see off Russia on Sunday. The Russians have some ability but lack real star quality while Belgium have steel to match their talent, so take them at even money to make it six points out of six.