I’ve come up with a good reason to not want England to win the World Cup. If we were to do it, you know that within seconds of David Beckham lifting the trophy, recording studios up and down the country would be full of people recording versions of ‘We Are The Champions’ to clog up the airwaves and the charts for months afterwards. Do you want to listen to Heather Small warbling her way through it, accompanied by the sound of Freddie Mercury rolling in his grave from now until Euro 2008?

But, it doesn’t matter, as England won’t win, but they stand a good chance of being runners-up. This year’s footballing patterns show that English teams are very good at getting to major international finals, but then losing them – Liverpool in the World Club Championship, Middlesbrough in the UEFA Cup and Arsenal in the Champions League.

For those of you interested, there are some interesting odds available on Betfair right now. For instance, Costa Rica are currently being offered at 16.5 (15.5/1 odds) to beat Germany this afternoon. Given that this is one of the weakest German sides for years, plus the tendency of opening matches to cause shocks, that seems rather good value to me. Other good value bets being offered are 6.4 (just under 11/2) on Poland to beat Germany and 4/1 on Ukraine to beat Spain.

There’s also good value in the overall market – you’d be hard pressed to find the Czechs at better to 25/1 from conventional bookies, yet Betfair have them available at 40 (39/1) while Mexico at 70 and Ukraine and 75 also look good value, given their relatively easy groups. Ukraine’s price seems especially good value to me, as I’d say they have a good chance of winning their group which would mean a second-round game against the runners-up in France’s group, likely to be Switzerland or South Korea. And, of couse, this is Betfair, where you can easily lay off your bets for a profit before the end of the tournament should the prices drop, as they likely will for teams who qualify from the group stage.

And who do I think are going to be beating England in the final? I’m plucking for the Dutch or the Czechs, while wondering just how long a Holland-England final would take to complete if it went to penalties.