|Posted on June 14, 2015 at 5:15 AM||comments (2)|
Colombia v Venezuela
Colombia head coach Jose Pekerman said the 2014 World Cup would mark Los Cafeteros’ arrival at football’s top table and the coffee-mad nation didn’t disappoint. The boss has been quick to dampen expectations 12 months later but there’s no doubt this current crop should be considered serious challengers to go the distance.
Sure, Colombia are rebuilding their defence following the retirement of veteran centre-half Mario Yepes and a new crop of youngsters will be given experience in Chile but there’s still more than enough star quality to see the side cement their place amongst the global elite.
Radamel Falcao’s been handed the captaincy and is likely to be partnered by Sevilla’s superb hot-shot Carlos Bacca in an outstanding front two, fed by the mercurial Real Madrid playmaker James Rodriguez. Venezuela will have James marked tightly but should the World Cup golden boot winner wriggle free and make the best use of space he finds, Colombia will expect to improve on a surprisingly poor record against Sunday night’s opponents.
Los Cafeteros have tasted victory in just one of their last five matches against their neighbours but that head-to-head record is unlikely to have any major bearing on this encounter. Colombia have won their last 12 matches excluding against Brazil (who have beaten them twice in the past year) with seven of those victories by a margin of two-goals or more.
The seven successive wins secured since the World Cup have mainly come against lesser lights in the international game but a quick glance at previous competition openers suggest Colombia are fast starters – the nation have come out on top in five of their last six Copa America or World Cup curtain-raisers, without conceding a goal in any of those victories.
So what should we make of Venezuela? The country with more love for baseball and beauty contests than the round ball game have made great strides in the past 10 years on the international stage but now under the tutorship of the most successful domestic boss in their history Noel Sanvicente, La Vinotinto have struggled to continue their upward curve.A fourth-placed finish at the 2011 Copa has proven a false dawn and preparation for the 2015 edition has been less than convincing. Venezuela have seen five friendly fixtures cancelled over the past year and didn’t even have a pre-tournament game planned to hone their strategies. To make matters worse, the squad have struggled to adapt to Sanvicente’s methods with the attack misfiring and defence far from solid.
The three wins secured under ‘Chita’ came twice against Honduras when only domestic players were contesting and the other a 1-0 victory against an understrength Peru team in their first match under new boss Ricardo Gareca. Still, Colombia would be foolish to ignore the claims of Salomon Rondon and Josef Martínez and it should be noted that La Vinotinto have only failed to score once in nine outings since Sanvicente took charge with eight of those outings featuring three goals or more.Im happy to play a small Suarez on this one
|Posted on June 13, 2015 at 7:00 PM||comments (0)|
Ireland v Scotland
These two sides will meet in Dublin. If Ireland were to suffer another defeat in this match to Scotland then their hopes could be ended as that would leave them five points behind Scotland in the race to qualify. Meanwhile a win for Scotland here would set them nicely for a shot at an automatic qualification place, while three points for Ireland would mean the race for third spot would be wide open.Ireland knows they cannot afford to lose a second time to Scotland here. Their defeat in Scotland was a big blow to their hopes of qualifying, but they can keep their chances alive by avoiding defeat in this match. It has to be said that other then the 7-0 win over Gibraltar, the points that Ireland have managed have all come late in the game thanks to dramatic goals. They only scored a winner over Georgia in the final minute of their opening game, and then needed a 94th minute equalizer to get the draw with Germany. They also had to do it the hard way when they needed a 91st minute equalizer to get a draw against Poland.Going forward, Ireland sure does not look all that convincing.Last weekend they could only managed a 0-0 draw against England. Also in four of their last six meetings with Scotland there has been just one goal scored. It well could be a stalemate here.In their last ten matches it has been four wins each and two draws. Since 1961 there has not been more than two goals in a fixture between Ireland and Scotland. And in their last three Euro 2016 qualification matches, Ireland have failed to win. In their last six matches played be it competitive and friendlies they have posted a W2 D3 L1 record. Scotland have recorded some great results and managed W3 D1 L1 in qualification. They are playing positively and with confidence and their only defeat in the race for Euro 2016 was against Germany. In competitive and friendly matches, Scotland have suffered defeat just once in six of their matches played. That was a friendly loss against England.A stat which may surprise many is that the Scots have averaged over two goals per game in Euro 2016 qualification, but chances are it will be a low scoring game in this match. Interestingly three out of the four wins Scotland have managed have been by a 1-0 scoreline. However, the Scots have yet to win on their travels in qualification so it could well end in a draw here. O’Neill-Strachan head to heads just one of the 10 meetings had produced a match with over 2.5 goals and that was an FA Cup tie when Coventry beat a weakened Leicester 3-0 in 1999. We won on the cards market the lat game up at Hampden Park. There were six bookings at Hampden and the stakes are even higher this time. McGeady was one of those cautioned and he’ll be as fired up as anyone against the country of his birth so consider him at 4-1 as a straight bet and if i can get 2.00 on the overs i will be taking it.As a trade the prices reflect what will probably happen a low scoring affair.The price is slightly high on Ireland to do a Arsenal trade but i wouldn't put you of it at all. Under Gordon Strachan the Scots have hardly put a foot wrong and I don’t think we’ll lose. so if not an Arsenal trade a low score scalp 1-0 0-1 1-1 with cover on the 3.5.For the brave a 3.5 lay
|Posted on May 30, 2015 at 5:00 AM||comments (0)|
Arsenal v Aston Villa
Arsenal are strong favourites for Saturday’s FA Cup Final but there’s good reason to take them on in the 90 minutes.Arsene Wenger’s side have consistently failed to impress at Wembley in recent years and have let down punters on many occasions. In their last three competitive visits to the national stadium they failed to oblige at odds on against Wigan, Hull and Reading.
Tim Sherwood seems the kind of manager who will thrive on these big days. He’s won 50% of his matches as Aston Villa manager and has beaten the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham in recent weeks. Put faith in Villa causing Arsenal problems on Saturday and play the Arsenal trade.
Aston Villa will lift the trophy on Saturday.WHAT!!!!. Tim Sherwood has made a huge difference to the club.
Where they once resembled a sweaty-palmed boy approaching a girl for the first time, they now look like studs who pull most Saturday nights. They look bold and brash and that’s down to self-aggrandising Sherwood. He believes, so they should too.
Since he walked into the club in mid-February he’s won half of his 16 matches in charge. Local rivals West Brom were beaten twice in four days, Liverpool were outclassed in the semi-finals, his old club Spurs were beaten at White Hart Lane and Manchester City given a real fright in a 3-2 loss last month. When it comes to the big games, his side rise to the challenge.
I’ve heard a few people reference the fact they lost their last two games very poorly (a 6-1 loss to Southampton and 1-0 defeat at Burnley) but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I expected it . This side will be hungry. It could be a defining day for their careers and Sherwood will demand everything from his charges as he seeks to put his own name up in lights.
Will the hunger be as strong from the Arsenal players? I can’t see that. They won this competition just 12 months ago and revelled in the glory of that. ARSENAL TRADE
|Posted on May 28, 2015 at 4:55 AM||comments (0)|
Rangers v Motherwell
As you’ll be aware, there’s lots at stake in this tie. Rangers are desperate to end three years of deep pain by returning to Scotland’s top flight while Motherwell are looking to avoid falling out that division for the first time since 1984/85.
You’d have to say it’s been a contrasting few weeks for these sides.Rangers failed to win 17 of their 36 Championship matches this season despite being long odds on for the title at the start of the season. Let’s not beat about the bush, it’s been a season that’s given so much joy to Rangers haters, but with the crucial appointment of Stuart McCall in March the Govan club might have the last laugh.
Since the ex-Motherwell boss took over, Rangers have lost just twice in 18 games. The second of those defeats came against Hibs on Saturday when they were already 2-0 up from the first leg.
Crucially McCall has got them ticking in the big games too. Hearts and Hibs were both beaten towards the end of the league season and Queen Of The South and the Easter Road club have been eliminated in the play-offs.
For Motherwell it’s been an appalling season. 22 defeats in their 38 matches has saw them deservedly finish second bottom in the top flight and enter this play-off. Both McCall and his replacement Ian Baraclough have failed to get Well anywhere close to the levels they achieved last season when finishing second.
The best period in Motherwell’s season came between late-February and early-April when they lost just one in six and won four of those matches. St Mirren were mashed 5-0, Hamilton hacked into pieces in a 4-0 victory, hopes were high of finishing above the bottom two, but then the defeats kicked in again.
Well won just one of their last six fixtures and even lost to bottom side St Mirren the weekend before last. It doesn’t bode well at all. While Rangers will be buoyant, Motherwell will be tentative.Another key factor to note is Rangers’ improved record against top-flight opposition this season. Top 4 sides Inverness and St Johnstone have both been beaten along with Kilmarnock.
In previous seasons in the lower leagues they’ve struggled against these kind of sides. Well actually…apart from when playing against Motherwell. Yes Rangers knocked the Steelman out of the 2012/13 League Cup when they were in the bottom tier of Scottish football.
Is that relevant? I think so yes. I’m still convinced some of these top-flight sides get spooked against Rangers due to what they used to represent. A sprawling, powerful, brutal monolith that dominated Scottish football for the whole of the 1990′s!.They should win over the two legs but the route to profit for me here is to back a cagey affair. So alow score scalp 1-0 2-0 0-2 1-1 with over 3 .5 as cover. i will also scalpthe draw to cover the dutch oon the scores.
|Posted on May 24, 2015 at 5:30 AM||comments (0)|
Palermo v Fiorentina
For weeks now (it might even be months) I’ve begging anyone that can bothered to listen, to give Serie A a chance. It’s enjoyed a real transformation in the past two years or so and is now a real hotbed for goals and attacking intent.
Sadly, the negative stereotypes continue to stunt its growth in the UK but I can assure you, the majority of clubs plying their trade in the Italian top-flight are forward-thinking. You just need to look, compare and contrast the goal records in Serie A to that of its European counterparts – Serie A is out-scoring the Premier League this season!Palermo bagged a 1-0 win away to Cagliari in the island derby last time out but taking their results at their Stadio Renzo Barbera home in isolation, the Rosanero have returned a huge 13/18 (72%) of Both Teams To Score winners, netting in all bar three and keeping just three clean sheets across the same spread.
Fiorentina remain in a battle for a Europa League place and managed to bag a third successive Serie A victory on Monday when strolling to a 3-0 success over beleaguered Parma. It was the ninth game in 10 that La Viola had proved profitable for Over 2.5 Goals backers and Vincenzo Montella’s men have been good for goal-hungry punters this season.
On the road, the Tuscans have scored in 14 of their 18 away league fixtures but kept just three shutouts of their own. Unsurprisingly, they also feature high on the BTTS table with 11/18 (61%) of their matches away from Florence seeing goals at both ends.
If we put the two teams’ home and away Both Teams To Score records together and find the average, we should have a 67% expectancy for BTTS to bank again.So a BTTS trade it is
|Posted on May 23, 2015 at 4:40 AM||comments (0)|
Paderborn v Stuttgart | Saturday 14.30
It’s the tightest relegation battle in Bundesliga history with six sides still fighting for their top-flight status. Saturday’s promises to throw up plenty of thrills and spills and we’ll begin by looking at two of those teams battling it out at the bottom.
Basement dwellers Paderborn welcome 16th-placed Stuttgart to their compact Benteler Arena home. Three points for the visitors would secure safety but the hosts would still require results to go their way if they’re to survive for a second season in the German top-flight. Tensions will be running high with so much at stake but the best betting option should be to back a high-scoring encounter.André Breitenreiter’s SCP have W3-D7-L13 since November but performances certainly haven’t been as bad as the results suggest and recently the minnows have found their goalscoring boots once more. Paderborn have scored in four of their previous six and despite failing to find the net in four consecutive games in front of their home supporters through February and March, the hosts have managed to notch in 11/16 (69%) of fixtures at the Benteler Arena.
Breitenreiter’s charges have found keeping the goals out their major problem. SCP have kept just three Bundesliga shutouts since September and so it’s not too surprising to see a healthy 12/16 (75%) of Paderborn’s home games have broken the two-goal barrier with 7/16 (44%) also banking for Over 3.5 Goals backers.Taking all those stats into account and the fact this clash is essentially a shootout for Bundesliga survival, I’m as confident as i can be with these end of season games to play a Suarez
|Posted on May 20, 2015 at 5:30 AM||comments (0)|
Juventus v Lazio | Wednesday 19.45
It’s leg two of a potentially historic treble for Juventus. The Old Lady have secured a fourth consecutive Serie A title with ease and now have two finals in the next fortnight to crown a memorable season, starting with the Coppa Italia. It’s a competition Juve have fallen out of love with in recent years.
Incredibly, you have to go back a whole 20 years since the Turin club last claimed Italian cup honours. Since 1994, the Bianconeri have suffered five defeats in the final whilst Wednesday night’s opponents Lazio have lifted the trophy on five separate occasions.
The Biancocelesti themselves are enjoying a thrilling season and their 1-0 win at Sampdoria on Saturday night kept the capital club on course for Champions League qualification. Santiago Gentiletti was the unlikely goalscoring hero and Stefano Pioli’s men will now arrive at their Stadio Olimpico home in high spirits for the midweek cup classic.
For the superstitious amongst us, as well as a dreadful Coppa Italia return across the past 20 years, Juventus also hold a bizarre head-to-head record against Lazio. Since 2004, the Old Lady have W15-D6-L0 against the Biancocelesti in Serie A (including doing the double this season) but in Coppa Italia duels since 2003/04 that record reads W0-D2-L4.
The league champions fielded a much-changed team for their Derby d’Italia victory at Inter on Saturday night but were rather fortunate in picking up three points. Having fallen behind at the San Siro, Claudio Marchisio levelled matters from the penalty spot and a dreadful mistake from Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic allowed Alvaro Morata to bag the winner in the closing stages. Both Marchisio and Morata are suspended for the final.
Nevertheless, it’s hard not to be seduced by the prospect of backing Juventus at odds-against quotes on Wednesday night. have chalked up the Old Lady at 6/5 to win in 90 minutes and that’s a price I believe to be worth taking.
I’m not prepared to be swayed by their poor cup record as the XI that Max Allegri choose to field will be far superior to that of Lazio. Sure, Lazio are playing in their own backyard but Juve cruised to a 3-0 success at the Olimpico in November and are capable of something similar, should they bring their A-game.
Pioli’s underdogs are still working to get key defender Stefan De Vrij back to full fitness and whilst they boast plenty of potential match-winners in forward areas, I’m unconvinced they have enough to step up to the plate when it matters most. A small stake Suarez is a risky call but ill make it
|Posted on May 18, 2015 at 5:15 AM||comments (0)|
Fiorentina v Parma
Fiorentina were booed off the pitch by supporters following their 2-0 defeat at home to Sevilla on Thursday, ending their dreams of a place in the Europa League final. But La Viola boss Vincenzo Montella launched a firm defensive in his post-match press conference, claiming his side deserve more respect for their achievements this season.
After a really encouraging start to 2015, the Florence club have suffered elimination in the Coppa Italia semi-finals as well as in the Europa League whilst four successive Serie A losses in April put paid to their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League via a top-three finish.
Still, back-to-back wins over Empoli and Cesena in league action mean a place in next season’s Europa should be assured. And with in-form Slovenian international Josip Ilicic leading the line, La Viola will expect to record their third straight Serie A success for the first time this campaign when Parma visit the Stadio Artemio Franchi on Monday night.
Parma, who were condemned to relegation earlier this month, managed a creditable and deserved 2-2 draw with Napoli on home soil last weekend and are looking to end a bleak season on a high note. Declared bankrupt in April and with players unpaid since last summer, the Ducali coach Roberto Donadoni has been full of praise for his battling visitors.
The basement club have roused themselves for big games already this season – beating Juventus and Inter as well as drawing with Roma and seeing off nine-man Fiorentina in the reverse fixture but Parma have been extraordinarily bad on their travels. The visitors have collected just six points from their 17-away days (W1-D3-L13), leaking 43 goals.The home side have seen Overs bank in 12/18 Serie A outings since January, including eight of their last 10 with an average of 3.5 goals-per-game plundered across those 10 fixtures.Parma have broken both the 2.5 and 3.5 goals barriers in six of their last nine with their 17 away matches averaging 3.24 goals-per-game. The Ducali have conceded at least three goals in 7/17 road trips already this term.This all points to goals so here comes 0-0!!!. No i will be on the Suarez play on this one
|Posted on May 17, 2015 at 4:50 AM||comments (0)|
Atalanta v Genoa
or weeks I’ve been screaming about goal trends in Serie A being higher than it’s perceived in this country and last weekend we were treated to a bumper 42 goals in an action-packed Matchday 35 – that’s an average of 4.2 goals-per-game!
We correctly called Both Teams To Score in the Palermo v Atalanta fixture and it didn’t disappoint with the Bergamo club coming away with an excellent 3-2 victory to keep their Serie A status almost certainly safe.
Edy Reja’s been in charge of La Dea for 10 games and although the club has picked up a reputation as draw specialists (W2-D7-L1) it’s the goal-heavy games that seem to have followed Atalanta of late that has again piqued my interest.
Returning to their Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia home this Sunday, the Nerazzurri have proven very profitable for punters chasing high-scoring games. Already this season we’ve seen 10/17 (59%) of Atalanta’s home fixtures producing Over 2.5 Goals winners and 12/17 (71%) feature BTTS.
Those 17 outings in front of their home supporters have returned just three clean sheets with the hosts notching in all bar four. In fact, 12 of their most recent 13 in Bergamo have banked in the Both Teams To Score column as well as 13 of their last 15 home and away.
It’s been a similar story for Genoa this season. Gian Piero Gasperini’s troops thrashed Torino 5-1 on Monday night but that result was glossed by three late goals in the Rossoblu’s favour. The three points kept Genoa right in the hunt for a Europa League qualification place and was the 14th occasion in 20 Serie A matches involving the Grifone that Both Teams To Score had proven a successful selection.
It’s been a similar story on their travels. Genoa have recorded 12/17 (71%) BTTS winners on the road as well as 10/17 (59%) ticks in the Over 2.5 Goals column whilst their tally of just three clean sheets away from home should give us an excellent recipe for goals on Sunday.
With the two teams’ combined Both Teams To Score stats suggesting we should be expecting a 71% chance of a repeat, so a BTTS trade or even a Suarez
|Posted on May 15, 2015 at 5:10 AM||comments (0)|
Middlesbrough v Brentford
It’s advantage Middlesbrough following last Friday’s first leg with Fernando Amorebieta’s stoppage-time goal giving the Teesiders a potentially decisive 2-1 lead. It was a hard and close-fought encounter that now sets up a tense return leg at the Riverside, a high-stakes shoot-out, if you will…
Aitor Karanka’s men showed plenty of bite in a match that featured nine yellow cards and with a packed Riverside Stadium awaiting their heroes, Boro fans are dreaming of a return to the Premier League. It’s six years since Middlesbrough were a top tier club and with 11 wins from 13 on home soil, you can understand the confidence amongst the Boro faithful. Ignore their 4-0 win over Brentford at the Riverside in September (Bees boss Mark Warburton described it as ‘by far their worst performance of the season’) and the Teesiders have done a job on the Londoners twice at Griffin Park.
On both occasions Karanka’s charges have defended deep and stout and been clinical enough to pinch a win. Admittedly the league encounter saw Boro clearly second-best but the fact they’ve beaten the Bees in all three meetings this term is surely going to give them the psychological edge, alongside their excellent home record.
It’s also worth noting that a few of the Brentford players may have written Karanka’s pre-match pep talk for him. Harlee Dean has accused Middlesbrough of being far too predictable in attack, claiming they can only score through set-pieces and counter-attacks whilst Moses Odubajo has confidently claimed that the Bees will be “better” than Boro in Friday’s decider.Boss Warburton revealed he’s been in touch with former Watford colleagues Malky Mackay, Brendan Rodgers and Sean Dyche to help his side’s preparation but he won’t have been too pleased with the fuel added to the fire by his players’ public comments ahead of the second leg.
The Bees manager passes Wembley on his way to work every morning but sadly, I see their dream dying at the Riverside. In 11 matches against top-six clubs this season Brentford have returned W2-D1-L8, conceding at least twice in six of those games and failing to keep a clean sheet.
Boro have leaked just 12 goals on home soil this season and only once has a visiting side netted twice or more – should the hosts grab a goal, you have fancy them to seal their place in the final.
I’m also going to have a stab at Both Teams To Score.Championship play-off semi-final second legs tend to be high-scoring as teams go on the offensive with Wembley waiting and in the past five years, eight of the 10 second legs have broken the Over 2.5 Goals barrier. So a Suarez play would also be a good trade