Here is our preview of the 2018 PDC Darts World Cup
Before football fever grips the planet, we have first the event that Uncle Barry described as the "real" World Cup! He may possibly have had his tongue firmly in his cheek when he said that just before the draw, but then again maybe he didn't!
Anyway, the action starts on Thursday 31 May 2018 and the final is on Sunday evening - 3 June.
The Netherlands have been installed as favourites at a best price Even money. Scotland (Anderson and Wright) are 11/4 but is anyone brave enough to take them on after last year's shambolic display? Rumours are rife that the Team don't hit it off and we know from past experience of this event that team spirit is a vital and fundamental factor!
Another new look Team is England. The halcyon days of Taylor and Lewis seem a long time ago now. The Power has retired and so has Jackpot, from winning darts matches anyway. We have Chizzy and Cross in Team England. On paper the 5/1 about England looks better value than Team Scotland but this new partnership may not gel so a watching brief this time round I reckon.
After the big 3 we hit the outsiders at 20/1 or more. Australia (Whitlock and Anderson). Wales (Price and Clayton) Belgium (Huybrechts and Van de Bergh) The brothers have been separated. A shame in a way as their team spirit shone the brightest out of any team's. Dimitri is a fine replacement though and it is Kim that will need to get going, he is having a hard time at the moment.
We are now really mixing it with the outsiders but there are some teams that could easily go under the radar and go on a bit of a run. Finland (300/1) and Sweden (500/1) are both good teams although Sweden have a potentially tough game v Scotland to kick things off.
I also like the look of Team Poland (Krzysztof Ratajski &Tytus Kanik) Both these boys can play and at 100/1 they may be worth a small dabble. They are also a best price 5/2 to KO Northern Ireland (Gurney and Dolan) in the 1st round.
Most of you will know we sponsor Team Brazil captain Diogo Portela so it would be remiss not to give Brazil a mention. Like last year, Brazil have one goal; to win the first game. It is V Denmark this time. Anything else can wait for Friday morning.
The two teams are very similar in as much as most darts people have heard of Diogo and Per Laursen. It is the "mystery men" of the teams that nobody knows much about. Henrik Primdal for Denmark and Bruno Randel are both making their debuts. I know nothing about Henrik (yet) but I know about Bruno.
He visited DPC HQ recently. Bruno has a wealth of experience, a good technique and him and Diogo, as well as Mario, Diogo's Dad have been friends and darting rivals for years. The team spirit is already there and building each day. It will be a close and exciting game I am sure of that!
So come Sunday night I expect to be watching The Netherlands v who?. Scotland should be there if the bookies have their way but they will have to have made huge strides to still be in it to win it by then. So maybe Wales or Australia will cause a surprise or two and come through to the final. We will see!
In the opening games there will be shocks and some mild surprises. Poland V Northern Ireland, Hungary v South Africa, Switzerland v China and Sweden v Germany is where I would be looking for teams to defy the odds!
Personally, I can't wait. Any tournament with a different format and the chance to see players we don't get to see too often is a winner in my book. Actually, I think Barry is right, this is the proper World Cup!
Enjoy and don't forget to support Brazil!