Friday, June 30, 2006

Getting the hang of grass......

20 yo Tomas Berdych seems to be coming to terms with grass, in the 3rd round for the second year running, he has won 8 of his last 10 starts on the surface.

He reached the final in Halle, earlier this month, losing to Federer in 3 sets, showing lots of heart to take a second set tie break after being "white washed" in the first. Serving well at present, he made 10 aces against the world number one. Tomas struggled to beat Santoro in the second round, but the Frenchman is a one off and difficult to play against, especially twice in as many weeks, the two having met early in Halle.

Today's opponent Tommy Haas is very gifted and has some grass court form, but almost none at Wimbledon, in 7 previous visits he has never gone beyond the 3rd round and has lost to Mark Petchey (207) and Wayne Black (149), not exactly household names. Find it hard to see the German as favourite here, his season is sure to be geared more towards the US hard court season, where he has a good record.

Small interest in the Hantuchova-Srebotnik match, that may well go the distance. Daniela holds a 4-0 h2h over her Slovenian opponent, however, all but one have gone to a third set. At Wimbledon this year DH has been taken into a decider, in both opening rounds, so this looks a nice bet. Will "save" on Srebotnik 2-1 in sets also, we are effectively taking 2.35 on a third set.

3 points Berdych to beat Haas 2.16 betfair.
1.5 points Hantuchova to win 2-1 sets 4.00 ladbrokes/ stan james.
1/2 point Srebotnik to win 2-1 sets 5.70 betfair.

Good Luck.

What is value ?

I have heard all the arguments in the past, a 1.10 winner is better than a 9.0 loser, well of course it is, but the idea is to find value. If you toss a coin 2.02 for heads, or tails, is value, unless it is a double headed ( or tailed) coin.

So, if I price up a contest 1.95/ 1.95 and someone offers 2.05 one side, should I bet ? Possibly, but probably not, it is a small difference in percentage terms and my odds could be a little wrong (pains me to say that), what if 2.40 is on offer, or 2.60 ? Yes and yes please, I have to bet is value.

Today we have two such matches at Wimbledon, I cannot really split the players, will go into the reasons later , yet one is available at 2.40 and the other 2.65. This is why, before looking at bookmakers prices, you should have some idea of your own odds. If you decide that x will win today, do not just take the 1.50 on offer, because that is the best price, if you think it has a 60% chance to win it is a bad price, if you consider it 75% sure to win, it is good value.

The first match in question is Agnieszka Radwanska against Tamarine Tanasugarn, the 17 yo Polish girl is going to go a long way in tennis. She won the Junior Wimbledon title last year and the Junior French title this year and already boasts a senior win over Myskina. To reach the third round Agnie beat two fellow, young, eastern europeans and has done nothing wrong. It is very unlikely that I would be opposing her in this match, a year from now.

Tanasugarn is a grass court specialist, this is her tenth year at Wimbledon and she is looking for her seventh, 4th round appearance, that is some going. Her lifetime record here is 23-9 and on grass, has won 67% of almost 100 matches. In qualification, she won all 3 matches in straight sets, dropping only 9 games.

Agnie has unlimited potential, but at this stage of her career, on grass, at the odds on offer, I have to side with the girl from Thailand.

Next up and for very similar reasons, I choose Mikhail Youzhny over the, very talented,
19 yo Novak Djokovic. Both are yet to drop a set, but the Russian has the far greater experience at Wimbledon, in 5 previous visits he has made the 4th round on three occasions, losing each time to top grass courters. Just find the odds baffling.

More online shortly.

3 points Tanasugarn to beat Radwanska 2.40 betfair.
3 points Youzhny to beat Djokovic 2.69 pinnacle.

Good luck.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Have I missed something ?

Everyone is suddenly rather impressed with Germany, but, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, have they really beaten very much so far ?

A poor Costa Rica, an Ecuador b team and Sweden, who were never at the races, they scored early in each of these contests and won them all, comfortably. The only match where they failed to score in the first 6 minutes was against an average Poland side, who were reduced late in the game to ten men, it took an injury time goal to seal the victory for the Germans.

So, is this the secret, stay with them early ? Maybe, it would certainly help. They have yet to be put under any real pressure, think that there is a steel about this Argentine side and they will not wilt under the expectation of a German nation, expectation that was not there two weeks ago. Has everyone forgotten the gaping holes in the german defence exposed by Italy, Japan and even Costa Rica in recent games ?

Any similar lapses here will be severely punished, Argentina have, by far, the best goals scored to shots ratio, of any team in the World Cup. Scoring at a rate of one goal for every 4 chances created.

Argentina were everyone's idea of the winner after they demolished Serbia and Montenegro, they followed this with a professional display against Netherlands and by beating a very technically gifted Mexican side, well coached and playing at their peak. Not sure what they have done wrong.

How many of the German starting eleven would even make the Argentine squad ? Ballack and Lehman, probably, anyone else ? Would Klose or Podolski EVER be chosen ahead of Crespo, Saviola, Tevez or Messi ? Don't even bother answering that.

Just do not see them losing to Jurgen Klinsmann's side and at level ball +1.20 or more, they are a terrific bet, in my book they are favourites. They have so many options, no other team in the world would even contemplate leaving one of Aimar, Tevez and Messi on the bench, let alone all three.

This could be a classic, we should see goals, I expect the match to go "over" but will stick with the "dnb" on Argentina, my biggest bet of the tournament so far.

6 points Argentina level ball 2.205 asian line.

Good Luck.

Serving up a double .........

Not going to put these up as selections, but the odds on offer for Gimelstob (5.14) to defeat Ljubicic and Falla (3.47) to overcome Kohlschreiber, are too big. As outlined in a previous post, Lubo did serve well yesterday, however is record here is still only 3-6 and Gimelstob is capable on his day, whenever that may be.

Falla did us a good turn yesterday, I like the fact that he won the two tie breaks and his stats match up closely with the German, Kohlschreiber had some good grass results to his name last year, but not at Wimbledon. He is entitled to be favourite, however, once again, the bookies have gone overboard. Would not put anyone off having a small interest on these two.

My second bet for today is a double in the Ladies Singles, Golovin to beat Pratt and Safina over Washington. My reasons for opposing Pratt were outlined in yesterday's posting(s), these two met on a hard court earlier in the year and Golovin won in straight sets. The French/Russian girl reached the 4th round here in 2004, as a 16 year old , she also made the final in Birmingham that year, on grass, losing to Sharapova. Pratt has never progressed beyond round 2 in 14 attempts !

Safina is ten years junior to her opponent and is in a rich vein of form. In her last 3 tournaments, she reached the final in Rome, beating Clijsters, Dementieva and Kuznetsova. Followed this with a grand slam quarter final at Roland Garros, seeing off Sharapove en route. Last week she ventured onto grass at Hertogenbosch and reached the final losing to home girl Michaella Krajicek, in the "battle of the sisters".

Both should be too strong for limited opponents.

4 points double Golovin 1.50- Safina 1.25 expekt

Good Luck.

Very entertaining game in prospect today .....

... with Marat Safin facing Fernando Gonzalez. Marat opened with a good victory over a fading, Greg Rusedski. The Russian totally out served the Brit/Canadian (take your choice) and that tells you as much about Greg's decline as anything else.

Since returning from a long injury, Marat's form has been inconsistent, at best, one good performance swiftly followed by a poor one. His most recent outings have been poor, at Roland Garros he lost in the first round to today's opponent in 4 sets, one stat from that match which will give Gonzalez great confidence, is that he had 26 (!) break points.

The Chilean took some time to come to terms with grass, but reached the quarter-finals last year, losing to Federer in 3 close sets, taking 13 games. He played Queens last week, losing in the quarters to Andy Roddick, so his well being is not in doubt. Fernando does have a propensity to double fault, if he can keep those to a minimum, he should beat Safin today. I hope Marat re-discovers his very best form (not today), tennis needs him, but he is nowhere it at present.

I make him favourite, the 2.42 on offer on Betfair is great value, have some other views which will be online shortly.

4 points Gonzalez to beat Safin 2.42 betfair

Good Luck.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Just been looking at the tennis stats .....

..... I know, bit of a masochist, couldn't help myself.

Broke level on the three selections, but Lopez threw away a 3-1 lead in the 5th, his unforced errors tally increased as the set progressed. All credit to Lubo, he served really well, but I would not hesitate to oppose him on grass, against the right opponent.

The Gajdosova match was very strange, despite losing 2 and 3, she hit 26 winners to Pratt's 11, "tale of the tape" here was the unforced errors, Gaj made 34, the Aussie 2 !!! Where did that come from, is it right ? After all they played 109 points which is quite a lot for an easy win. Mauresmo won 6-0 6-0 and made 9 unforced errors !

Plenty to ponder on, should have some selections online later.

Good Luck.

Just cannot agree with the odds ......

....... on the Ljubicic- Lopez match today. Lubo has very poor form on grass, his lifetime Wimbledon record is 2-6 , last year he was a first round loser to Melzer in straight sets and he lost in the first round of Queens, to Monfils, an early casualty yesterday.

Lopez has had a poor season, but showed a return to some form at Nottingham on grass, last week, winning two matches before losing to eventual finalist, Jonas Bjorkman, serving a lot of aces. His Wimbledon record (12-4) stands up to the closest inspection, reaching the quarter finals last year and beating Mario Ancic en route. In four visits he has never failed to reach the third round.

Ljubicic has had a wonderful year or so, but I am not sure he should be more than a narrow favourite here, the 1.49 is far too short and Feli a value selection.

3 points Lopez to beat Ljubicic 3.00 betfair

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The dimunitive Australian .........

... Nicole Pratt has been playing tennis since her first round opponent was in kindergarten. The 33 yo Aussie has played 10 times at Wimbledon and only twice won her opening match, losing in the next round on both occasions. In addition, she has attempted and failed to qualify, on four seperate occasions. Likewise, in four visits to the pre-Wimbledon warm up event in Eastbourne, she has never qualified for the tournament proper.

She meets Jarmila Gajdosova, 14 years her junior and at opposite ends of their careers. The Slovakian has just broken into the top 100 for the first time (ranked 86) and won three ITF tournaments in a row earlier this season. She has actually won a grass court tournament, without dropping a set, albeit only Felixstowe, last summer.

Jarmila lost to Myskina at Eastbourne last week, but that is no shame and won 3 matches in qualifing, including beating the top seed, Samantha Stosur ( wr #50) in straight sets.

Doubles specialist NP has spent most of her time with a singles ranking over 100 , with her grass court record and in the twilight of a very long career, she should not beat Gajdosova.

4 points Gajdosova to beat Pratt 1.95 betfair / 1.92 centrebet.

Good Luck.

What a turkey !

Switzerland-Ukraine was painful to watch, it was the 103rd minute before the first offside ! That MUST be some sort of record. The Swiss could not even score in a penalty shoot out, we need some entertainment and fast.

Ghana are really going to miss Essien today, they struggled without him in the Cup of Nations and he will leave a gaping hole in midfield. I cannot get out of my mind the shambolic defending in the opening game, if the real Brazil turn up, they could be torn to shreds.

Ronaldo's fitness continues to improve, heard that he has lost 5 kilos since the Japan game, think he is still value to score a goal at anything around 2.20. He needs one more to be the all time leading World Cup goalscorer, on his own. As I mentioned in an earlier post, his form in training has been fantastic, now that the goals have come, we can follow "Ronny".

The Samba Stars will be without Robinho and must decide whether to recall Adriano, these are "problems" other coaches only dream about. Think an early goal will be the key today, there are early chances in almost every game, even in last night's debacle, should Brazil take one, Ghana without their "engine" will be forced forward, leaving their suspect defence exposed.

The 90 minute odds for Brazil( 1.28) have no interest, prefer to take them on the ht/ft market, Ghana concede a lot of shots on goal, even giving up 14 to Czech Republic in a match which they dominated, they may pay for that today.

4 points Brazil-Brazil double result 1.82 betfair.

Good Luck.

"Grass is for cows" ......

...... famous saying by Manuel Santana and echoed down the years by Guga, Lendl, Rios and any other number of clay courters, with a dislike for Wimbledon.

Guess that Nickolay Davydenko has very similar sentiments, he has one win on grass in ten attempts, that sole victory coming against a player ranked 787 in the world! He has lost to such luminaries as Yeu-Tzuoo Wang, Kohlschreiber and in 2003, to the 489 ranked Lee Childs.

Today,weather permitting, he meets 22 yo Alejandro Falla, the Colombian has come through 3 rounds of qualifing, so should be in tip top shape. On his only previous appearance at Wimbledon two years ago, he won his first round match and went out, to Roger Federer on centre court, so should have no nerves today. He has good form on hard courts, a nice back hand, reasonable serve and has improved his ranking by over 100 places in the last 3 months.

Falla went out of Roland Garros in the second round to Roger Federer (again), but managed 4 aces, the same as the world number one. Sure that he will be up to serving a few more today, Davydenko has no liking for grass and Falla is in good shape and hungry, just do not understand how the Russian can be huge odds on, for this match.

4 points Falla to beat Davydenko 2.75 general ( 2.87 bet and win)

Good Luck.

Monday, June 26, 2006

All these red and yellow cards are going to ........

...... ruin the latter stages of the tournament, it is becoming a farce, hope some sanity is restored today.

Goals have dried up a little in the knockout stage and I feel that the oddsmakers have over reacted to this. Any number could have been scored in saturday's games, just have a feeling that today's could be quite open affairs. Think that Italy and Switzerland will progress, Australia will really miss Emerton and it appears Kewell is very doubtful, can see the Aussies chasing the game and leaving some big gaps for Italy to exploit.

The Swiss will miss Senderos but look the better team to me, the all powerful Sepp Blatter can see his country into the quarter finals.

I will have some tennis news for Wimbledon tomorrow.

4 points Italy-Australia over 2 goals 1.83 asian line
3 points Switzerland -1/4 2.10 asian line

Sunday, June 25, 2006

What a match in prospect .......

..... as Portugal meet Netherlands for a quarter-final place. Big Phil Scolari's side come here on a 17 match unbeaten run and he is looking for a 10th straight World Cup finals win, as coach.

Portugal hold the upper hand in h2h meetings, with only one defeat and five victories in nine. These are two well matched sides, extra time would not surprise me, but I was a little surprised to see the Dutch such strong favourites. Both will be at full strength and there can be no excuses, Van Basten may drop the out of form, Ruud van Nistelrooy, this is my worry about the Dutch, where will the goals come from ? Robben is sure to be well shackled and the only other, in form offensive player is van Persie. I just think Portugal, have more options, sure that Cocu will try to stifle playmaker Deco , but that still leaves Figo, Ronaldo and Pauleta and lots of alternatives on the bench.

At +1/4 ball on the asian line they make a value selection.

In the Booz Allen Classic golf, Victor Chandler offer odds, without leaders, Curtis and Quigley, we can try a small ew bet on Bart Bryant at 8-1. After his stella year of 2005, this year has started slowly, but recent weeks have shown definite improvement. He seems to have added 15-20 yards to his driving and his GIR and putting stats this week are good, with his proven round 4 scoring record he looks the likeliest to finish 3rd, or better.

4 points Portugal +1/4 1.90 asian line.
1 point ew Bart Bryant w/o the front 2 8-1 1/4 odds 123 victor chandler

Good Luck.

Conditions will be punishing for England .......

.........30 degrees plus in Stuttgart today, the temperature on the pitch will be hotter still. Despite saying otherwise, this is a huge worry for the England team, but they are sure to be better prepared than for the Paraguay game, when they were out on their feet in the latter stages.

However, I think they will go for an early lead today and be prepared to defend it, they will not want to go chasing the game in the second half in such draining conditions. There is little value in England at the current odds, but the have scored in 15 of last 16 games and their total of 50 shots at goal, is beaten by only Germany and Brazil.

I think the best way to back England, who are the better side and who have a good record against South American opponents, is to take them to lead at half time, alongside a "cover" on a 1-0 scoreline. With a little luck we could win on both.

4 points England half time 2.04 asian line
1 point England to win 1-0 6.40 betfair

Good Luck.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Early goal in Liepzig .........

....... could be on the cards tonight. Argentina scored early in the opening two ties ( 6th and 24 th minute) and were leading 2-0 and 3-0 at the break, in those games. In Mexico's group matches a total of 5 goals came in the first half, 4 in the opening 30 minutes.

Expect something similar here, but how to profit from it ? Stan James offer 2.10 that there is a goal in the first 28 minutes, that looks ok, but I am going to take the first half "overs". 5 of Argentina's last 7 games have produced 2+ goals in the first half and 15/17 of Mexico's , at least one goal.

The asian goal line offers 2.25 "over" one goal in the opening 45 minutes, so stakes refunded with just one score, this bet would only have lost in 13 of the opening 48 matches. Given these teams early scoring record, it looks a very nice wager.

3 points over 1 goal first half 2.25 asian line

Good Luck.

Myskina close to best ?

Justine Henin Hardenne meets Anastasia Myskina in the Eastbourne final shortly. The Russian has made some coaching changes and claims to be playing her best tennis for two years....

"I was really aggressive and I feel that that I’m playing good tennis. It’s the best I’ve played this year or last, I hit the ball really cleanly, my serve was a little shaky but my returns were pretty good.”

Results are improving and her ranking will be back inside the top ten after this week,she beat in form Svetlana Kuznetsova in the semis and a couple of decent grass courters in earlier rounds.

Of course, she will have to go some to beat HH, but may be capable of taking a set. Henin leads the h2h 7-2, but the Russian has taken her the distance in 4 of their last 5 meetings. Hopefully she can continue that trend today.

1 points Henin to win 2-1 sets 4.60 betfair
1/2 point Myskina to win 6.40 betfair

Good Luck.

Germany to face first real examination ...........

The knockout stage is finally here and the host nation will be put to the test today, by a very tough Swedish team. Germany have beaten a poor Costa Rica side, struggled against a now departed, Poland and walloped Ecuador "b". They have not beaten a top ranked European team in six years, that's 13 matches. The defence is in for a real test today. I assume Ballack, the only real superstar in the team, will be given special attention by the Swedes.

Sweden are a very difficult team to beat and were unlucky not to top their group. New Lyon signing Kim Kallstrom and Tobias Linderoth will cause problems from set pieces and form a formidable midfield including Freddie Ljungberg. Larsson and Allback look sharp up front and "Zlatan" will be on the bench, if needed. They never know when they are beaten, coming from behind twice against England, scoring a late winner verses Paraguay and netting in the 90th minute in 4 of the previous 6 competitive games. Tight at the back too, only conceding in the England game and 4 times in 10 qualification ties.

This game could go all the way, fancy the draw today, Sweden have drawn 7 of 9, but the asian line of +1 really looks something to bet on, just cannot see the Germans winning by 2 goals. If it does go to penalties, of course, Germany is Germany, circa 13.0 for them to win on penalties is fair.

5 points Sweden +1 goal asian line 1.79
1 point Germany to win on penalties 13.0 general
1/2 point Sweden to win on penalties 15.0 general

Good Luck.

Karlsson in good shape .........

Robert Karlsson is perfectly placed just three strokes behind leader Colin Montgomerie in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.

Somewhere down the line Monty is going to be thinking about how he threw away, yet another US Open last week and feel he is a very skinny price at present. There you go, the words skinny and Montgomerie in the same sentence..... and they said it would never happen. Paul Casey and Thomas Bjorn are the other main contenders and it is hard to see the winner coming from outside this quartet.

Casey and Bjorn are world class players on their day, but always liable to self destruct, they both have problems closing out tournaments. Think we can open our potfolio with a little each way on the Swede, he is in a rich vein of form at present, finishing 5th-14th -1st on his last three starts in Europe. He missed the cut by a mile in the US Open, but that is not his style of golf at all, the generous fairways here play to his strengths. I find it hard to believe he will not be in contention after today's third round and think the odds on offer are generous.

2 points each way Robert Karlsson 10-1 1/5 123 william hill.

Good Luck.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Make of this what you will........

France will qualify for the last 16 with a two goal win today, conspiracy theorists are having a field day. 80% of Togo's massive national debt, is owed to former colonial power....... France.

Most of the controversy involving the West Africans at this World Cup has involved money, they have nothing to play for and will give some "lesser" members of the squad a game today. I will say no more on this matter, beyond... France should have this in the bag by half time, prices have very little value though.

Switzerland can top the group with a win,this means avoiding Spain and Brazil, a big incentive. Of course qualification is the first objective,which they will do with a draw, but if, as expected, France get ahead early, South Korea will have to go looking for the win and the game will open up. The Swiss have only scored twice so far, but have had 25 shots at goal, the most of any team in this group. SK came from behind against Togo, a game which turned on a dismissal and were very lucky in the match with France. Switzerland are the better team, losing only once in 20 starts and I take them to win.

2 points France -3/4 1.62 first half asian line.
4 points Switzerland -1/4 1.78 asian line

Raul hungry for goals .......

Not too much interest in the early games today. Spain will rotate the squad against a poor Saudi team, however, they have so much strength in depth, it will not make too much difference. Striker, Raul, will be keen to get on the score sheet again and make a claim to start in the last 16 match. This is his type of game, he is sure to get plenty of service and anything over 2.10 is worthwhile.

Tunisia have to go for the win today, they may risk dos Santos, but he is not 100%.
Jaouhar Mnari, Tunisia midfielder said "We have to keep playing attacking football. Against Ukraine we'll need to take a lot of risks because we absolutely must win". Ukraine will settle for the point they need, but are very capable of exploiting the gaps that look sure to appear. We can risk a little on "over".

2 points Raul to score at any time 2.22 betfair
2 points over 2.5 goals Ukraine-Tunisia 2.12 betfair

Good Luck.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Not for the faint hearted .......

Croatia meet Australia in Stuttgart tonight, in what is virtually a sudden death playoff for a place in the last 16, a draw will be enough for the Aussies.

Not many shrinking violets on either team and it could get nasty, referee Graham Poll is likely to be the busiest man on the field. Croatia collected more yellow cards in qualification than any other country and with so much at stake and the make up of the teams (Australia have 7 players of Croatian heritage and Croatia, 3 that grew up in Australia) I would not put anyone off "buying"bookings or yellow/red cards. Six seems the minimum number of cards shown now, this COULD go double figures. Surprised if this ends up eleven v eleven.

I think Croatia are very unlucky to just have one point so far, they could easily have four, now they just HAVE to win, or go home. The Australian defence, with the exception of Lucas Neill ,is average at best, they are sure to give up a few chances and it is time for the Croatian strikers to do the business. They are my strong choice.

Have a feeling, call me mad and I am surprised at myself for saying this, that Ronaldo will score tonight, crazy isn't it ? Thought he looked a little fitter against Australia and heard he has impressed in training over recent days for the first time since joining the squad. Coach Parreira has suggested he will start with him tonight,despite the yellow card, if so, I will try a small wager, remember, class is permanent. Think the team will look to get him on the score sheet tonight and the odds are fair, Brazil can relax a little and we may see their true colours.

5 points Croatia level ball 1.78 asian line
2.5 points Ronaldo to score anytime 2.55 expekt, sure to be bigger on betfair later

Good Luck.

Italy desperate to win the group......

......... of course they have to ensure qualification first, but if they finish second in the group, they will be faced with Brazil and Spain up next. First place may see them with Australia and Switzerland, a very big difference, which will not be lost on the calculating Italians.

Czech Republic created nothing against Ghana and could have lost by more than the 2-0 scoreline, they are without Koller, Lokvenc and Ujfalusi. Baros is likely to play at least some part, but is definitely not 100% fit, do not think he would be risked, if there were other options.

For me this can only be a draw or Italian win, the Czechs look vunerable at the back and if Ghana take the lead, this game could really open up. Going to take Italy -1/4 ball as my main selection for this afternoons two games.

The Ghana- USA tie promises to be a physical affair, they have so far collected 12 yellow and two red cards between them. The Americans have no choice, they have to go for it and hope to get help from the Azzurri, Ghana do make mistakes at the back and will not be allowed as much room to play today. I feel sure that USA will score and get something from this game, they look worthwhile taking on the asian line +1/2, Ghana will settle for the draw if Italy take the lead, which also helps.

4 points Italy -1/4 1.72 asian line
3 points USA +1/2 1.80 asian line

Good Luck.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Argentina- Netherlands

This will decide the group winners, a draw being enough for the south americans. Both teams are resting key players......

Van Basten has confirmed, after all, that he is to rest no fewer than six of his first-choice line-up, with Giovanni van Bronckhorst, John Heitinga, Arjen Robben, Joris Mathijsen, Mark van Bommel and Khalid Boulahrouz all currently within another booking of earning a one-match suspension. "We don't want to take any risks for the next round," said the coach, mindful of the fact that the disciplinary slate is wiped clean at the Round of 16 stage.

Nevertheless, while Argentina’s Jose Pekerman is said to be planning a similar move with his own cautioned quartet of Javier Saviola, Gabriel Heinze, Luis Gonzalez and Hernan Crespo.
Van Basten insists that there is no question of either side going into this match half-heartedly.

I do not feel that these two football purists will simply go through the motions, surely they will want to entertain. To be honest the Argentine "b" team is hardly weaker at all, probably a little stronger. Messi and Tevez on the bench in earlier matches, what an embarrassment of riches !

See this as a glorified "friendly" and no reason why there should not be goals. The "replacement" superstars will be keen to keep their place and Argentina can get maximum points.

3 points over 2 goals 1.75 asian line
2 points Argentina 2.08 general

Good Luck.


This game worries me, a draw suits both, Portugal will then be group winners and Mexico will qualify. However, Portugal will not want to lose, as it may mean they will meet Argentina instead of Netherlands.

When I see the team news, the europeans are resting Deco, Ronaldo, Costinha, Valente and Pauleta, it really makes me wonder if they have "shaken hands" on this result. Regardless, I could not bet this Portugese side, that do not need the win. This leaves the draw or Mexico, take your choice, I am going to take the +1/4 in asia, but for small stakes.

2 points Mexico +1/4 asian line 1.78

Good Luck.


Hopefully we can keep the good run going, 5/6 winners (one void).

Angola still have a small chance to qualify, but must come out of their shell and go for the win, it looks likely that they will start with Benfica striker, Mantorras and switch to 4-4-2. This should leave more room at the back than in the opening ties, riding their luck at times, goalkeeper Joao Ricardo has been outstanding. Team Coach, Goncalves, said "we will play to win and perhaps we will take a few more risks"

Iran have nothing to play for, but to my eyes have looked the better of these two and certainly have more options up front. They are certainly making the right noises ahead of the game......

Iran coach Branko Ivankovic said on Tuesday his side was determined to win their last match, having lost to Mexico and Portugal"."A win against Angola would mean our World Cup had been a success," the Croat told reporters. "This is the biggest and most beautiful event in sports history and we should be proud to have been a part of it."

Ferydoon ZANDI (IRN) Obviously it's a matter of honour and pride for us now. We'll give it our best shot in our last game and bid the tournament a worthy farewell. We'd like to finish third in the group, but we're well aware Angola will provide tough opposition.

I make Iran favourites to win, at odds against on the level ball asian line we have to get involved, the goal line of "2" also looks attractive, it could really open up in the second half.

3 points Iran level ball 2.13 asian handicap
3 points over 2 goals 1.77 asian line

Good Luck.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

We never beat Sweden .......

...... but maybe tonight, is the night. I know Sweden need the point to qualify, but they are in anyway if Paraguay do not lose to T&T and i do not think they will. It is one thing to set out a gameplan for 0-0, another when you have to go and win the match.

England will not want to play Germany, so I think defeat is not an option, they will get slated by the media if that happens. Just have a feeling that Paraguay will be ahead and England will perform tonight. Of course I am worried about the draw, so the asian level ball line, albeit at short odds looks the best option. Sweden not to score at around 2.36 on Betfair is also ok.

5 points England dnb asian line 1.63

Good Luck.

Germany to keep the fans happy .......and avoid England

Germany and Ecuador meet to decide the group winner, think the host nation want it more, but the odds are very skinny.

They do not want to play England, memories of the 5-1 drubbing are still too raw and will want to keep the momentum they have built up, going. The fact that Ballack will start, despite his yellow card, shows how keen they are to win.

Ecuador have several key players on one card and are likely to rest some, if not all, they can ill afford to be without them come the knockout stage.

Think the best way to back Germany is to take them to win the first half, the odds are ok and if they get a lead, they will be able to ease down and rest Ballack.

3 points Germany to win first half 2.04 asian line.

Good Luck.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Friendly International .........Costa Rica-Poland

The first friendly of the World Cup, as both teams are going home after this match. Poland showed more fight against Germany and will want to give their vast army of fans, something to cheer. Costa Rica looked clueless at times in the defeat to Ecuador, Wanchope and Gomez really struggled up front, they have already conceded 7 and look likely to add to this tally.

In 2002 World Cup , Poland were in exactly the same position and in the final game beat USA
3-1, motivated from the start, they scored 2 goals in the opening 5 minutes.

They are likely to change the team around, Sobolewski is suspended and the "youngsters" will be given a chance to impress. Reading interviews with the central american players, their heads are already in CR, bodies to follow shortly.

Poland to win, maybe by a couple.

3 points Poland 1.82 betfair.

Good Luck.

Tunisia to keep it tight ...........

My outright selection, Spain, take on Tunisia in Stuttgart tonight. The north africans are still without dos Santos and will try to frustrate their opponents, they very rarely concede multiple goals. The tie with Saudi Arabia was only the 3rd time they have allowed 2 goals in 21 starts.

Tunisia were well on top in the first half in that game, it maybe that they were over confident after the break and got caught out. The second place in this group could well come down to goal difference, therefore, a one goal loss would not be a disaster.

Spain looked good in the opener, but did get all the luck that was going, these things tend to even out, so they may have to settle for a narrow victory.My idea is a one goal win for Spain, but have finally opted for the Carthage Eagles on the handicap.

3 points Tunisia +1.5 goals 1.81 asian line.

Good Luck.

The Togo circus rolls on .......

Togo missed their flight to Dortmund yesterday, yet another protest by the players, relating to bonus payments. FIFA stepped in and guaranteed the newly agreed sums and the squad caught a later flight.

The coach is planning to sue a Togo official, who has claimed he is an alcoholic, read elsewhere that he is teetotal ! What a mockery. Today they are without their influential captain, Jean-Paul Abalo ( the defence went to pieces after he was sent off against South Korea) and fellow defender, Assemoassa.

Switzerland are a much better side and should win today, a victory by two clear goals will mean they can qualify with a draw in the final group game. They will be keen to prove that they know more than how to defend and I take them to cover the asian handicap.

4 points Switzerland -1.25 goals 2.12 asian line.

Good Luck.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Final round at Winged Foot .....

Round 4 of the US Open today, on what must be the hardest course most pros have EVER played. The leaders stand at +2, yes, that is over par, if we have normal Sunday tee positions, scoring could go through the roof.

Mickleson is in pole position and is on my short list, alongside Furyk, Singh and Ogilvy. Looking for a little value, I am going to take the Aussie each way, "without" big Phil.

Furyk did not drive the ball too well yesterday and VJ misses too many makeable putts.

Ogilvy is having a fantastic year, currently lies 5th on the money list and already has a win and 2nd place to his name. The victory coming in a very big tournament, the WGC Matchplay, proving that he can handle the pressure, with the eyes of the golfing world upon him .

A steady player, long off the tee, he is one of the very few to have kept a double bogey off his card this week. Think he has the right temperament to deal with whatever the course throws up tonight and is a player ready to move up to the next level.

I expect Ogilvy to go close to winning, but feel that the w/o market is the better option.

2.5 points each way 1/4 123 OGILVY 4.50 w/o MICKLESON Stan James

Good Luck.

Man of the match ..................

Interesting statistics for the "Man of the Match" award, which is voted for by the FIFA Technical Study Group. In the 26 matches so far, over 60% have gone to midfielders and, as you would expect, no player on the losing side has yet won.

Brazil are likely to win today, so looking at the odds on offer, we have, 3-1 Ronaldinho, 9/2 Kaka, 7/1 Adriano and 8/1 Ronaldo. It seems to be between these four, Ronaldo might have to score twice to win, on his earlier performance that seems unlikely, but possible. The nature of these awards, suggest that, where possible, they will be spread around, Kaka won it against Croatia, feel that if he puts in a similar performance to one of the others, he may be overlooked this time.

Would not put anyone of a bet on any of these four, but as he will see plenty of the ball ,think I will side with Ronaldinho for a small interest.

2 points Ronaldinho 4.0 man of the match market bet 365

Big day of sport .........

In addition to the World Cup, we have the final round of the US Open golf and the Stella Artois tennis final at Queens. The remote control will be working overtime.

Going to put several very short posts online today, without too much in depth analysis.

In the early kick off in Germany, a draw is of no value to Japan, they have to go in search of the 3 points. I have to side with a very small bet on the "over", would be happier taking it if Japan had a proven goalscorer, in a country with a population of 130m, you would think they could fine one. Croatia are the likelier winners, but the odds are too short for me.

At Queens, I am surprised to see Hewittt at such big odds, he is a three time winner of this tournament and holds a 6-1 h2h advantage. Blake has been impressive, but this semi-final win was gained over a lack lustre Roddick. He freely admits that grass is his worse surface ( that may be reviewed now), in several visits to Wimbledon, he has never gone beyond the second round. Lleyton is a former winner of that Championship and one of the toughest men to beat on the circuit.

2 points Lleyton Hewitt 2.2 betfair
2 points Croatia -Japan over 2.25 goals 2.0 asian line

Good Luck.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Italy to "go for it" .......

Much will depend on how the Czech Republic get on earlier, but Italy will be desperate to win this group and will have to score a couple tonight. Section E winners are likely to avoid Brazil and the impressive Spain.

They created plenty of chances against Ghana, 18 shots at goal and many other near misses, they are full of attacking options and Totti will be there to load the bullets.

USA will be keen to put on a better show, they looked more dangerous once Eddie Johnson, 7 goals in 8 games, came on and he is likely to play a bigger role tonight. They must look for goals, that will not be easy of course, but the Azzurri conceded in 6 of their 10 qualification matches and in 7 of last 8 friendlies. Feel that USA will score and that the match will go "over", with the 2.25 goal line, we have half stakes returned with 2 goals and I like this bet.

4 points over 2.25 goals 2.03 asian line

Midfield will be crowded ............

......... with players and talent, when Czech Republic meet Ghana in Cologne this evening.

Without Baros and Koller, CR will play with Lokvenc as the lone striker and support him with a five man midfield full of quality. The risk is , that this is where ALL Ghana's strength lies, Muntari, Essien and Appiah form a dynamic and physical combination and the two teams may cancel each other out.

The african team created very little against Italy, they were restricted to long range efforts, mostly from the midfielders. I can see this being a very tactical affair and think it will be hard for Ghana to score, Czech Republic may have to be patient and hope the goals come eventually. They do not want to get into a physical battle as they can ill afford any more injuries.
Think we should take the half time draw, the 2.46 on offer seems more than fair.

3 points half time draw 2.46 betfair

Good Luck.

Early goals in Germany.......

The early kick offs have produced plenty of goals this World Cup, the eight matches so far are averaging 3.5 per game.

The last 5 Iran fixtures have all gone "over" 3.5 goals, so think we can expect goals today, when they meet group favourites, Portugal. The european side were big scorers in qualification (35 goals) and were heavily criticized by the home media for "stepping off the gas" in the opening tie with Angola, they were happier keeping possession ( almost 60%), than looking for another goal.

The Portugese side have great width and the wingers can stretch the Iran defence, also looks like Deco will return today in the playmaker role. He can boss the midfield, an area where Iran were overrun by Mexico in the first game.

The draw will have little benefit for Iran, if they have any hopes of progression, so they will have to open up at some stage. I will take the "over" and look for Pauleta to get on the scoresheet.

Figo won the "man of the match award" in the first game, feel that these will be spread around, so we can look elsewhere today. This is an official award, voted for by the FIFA technical study group, providing Ronaldo starts, he looks overpriced , his style of play is always likely to impress.

4 points over 2.5 goals 1.95 asian line
1 point Pauleta to score at any time 2.10 betfair
1 point Ronaldo MOM award 8.0 bet 365

Good Luck.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Carnage at Winged Foot

First round of the US Open golf yesterday and what a battering the pros took, only ONE (!) player was under par, 22 finished 10 or more over.

Winner will be a golfer who can keep the ball on the fairway and out of the punishing rough, Jim Furyk is in a group just one off the lead. He won the Open in 2003 and this Mr Reliable of the tour, has the taylormade game for this course. I am going to take a little of the 8.80 on offer.

Serbia and Montenegro will have to be more positive against Argentina, than in their opener, the players were critical of the coach's negative approach in that game and will attack more today.This could play into the south americans hands and with Riquelme pulling the strings, we could see some goals today.

Our favourites, Ivory Coast, will be looking to get back on track with a win today, think they are evenly matched with the Dutch and can win with a little luck in front of goal, odds look fair enough.

Mexico will be looking to secure their place in the next stage with victory over a goal shy looking
Angola, they will not want to need a result in the final match verses Portugal.

2 points Jim Furyk-US Open 8.80 betfair
4 points Argentina-Serbia and Montenegro over 2 goals 1.84 asian line
2 points Ivory Coast 4.70 betfair
4 points Mexico -1 1.92 asian line

Good Luck.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Group B ........matchday 2

Strange day for Peter Crouch , he will have to look up to Dennis Lawrence the Trinidad and Tobago/ Wrexham defender, who is a little taller, if you believe that.

I expect England to win comfortably. Most of the caribbean squad play in the lower reaches of England and Scotland, only Hislop 37 and Yorke 34, have ever played in the Premiership. There are one and a half divisions between the two sets of players, think that will show today.

Sweden seem to have problems, they could not beat 10 man Trinidad and Tobago in the opening fixture and there were tales of trouble in the dressing room afterwards. This is common, but not the first time it has happened to this squad.

Zlatan is not in the best of form, Larsson is used to only 30 minutes nowadays and Freddie Ljungberg is not 100%. Think Paraguay will put on more of a show today and can take at least a point, this should leave everything to play for in the final group games.

3 points England - 1.75 goals 1.83 asian line
3 points Paraguay +1/2 1.91 asian line

Good Luck.

Paulo........ how old are you really ?

Think the bookmakers have over reacted to one fair performance by Ecuador, against an awful Polish side. As poorly as the Poles played, they could have snatched a draw, hitting the woodwork twice.

Coming into the tournament, most of us were convinced that they were useless away from high altitude, now, after one game, they are "odds on" for a match they do not HAVE to win. A draw will still leave them as favourites to progress.

Against Germany, Paulo Wanchope ( is he really only 29?) 45 goals in 7o games, took his chances well, showing a long overdue return to form. The midfield have promised to get forward
quicker and not leave him and fellow striker, Ronald Gomez, so isolated.

I can tell you that Costa Rica are very confident ahead of this fixture ........

“We’re confident and bursting with belief," he said. "The Ecuador game matters most to us, because a win would throw the door to the next round wide open.”

Keeper Jose Porras appeared determined to outdo even Centeno in the optimism stakes, proclaiming a steadfast belief in his side’s ability to upset the well-placed South Americans. “Germany were favourites, but we only lost to two stunning goals," he reflected. "There’s nothing to chose between ourselves and Ecuador. If we can bring all our passion to bear, we could walk off the field with the points.”

Five of the nine h2h meetings have finished all square and so could this one, going to go with CR +1/2. We have two of the three possible results on our side and one, the draw, will suit Ecuador, who look happier defending.

3 points Costa Rica +1/2 1.93 asian line

Good Luck.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Raining in Germany ....... goals I hope

Going to be brief today. It will be very hot ( 34 degrees) in Leipzig for the ealy kick off and this must favour my outright selection, Spain.

Unlike the rest of the betting world, I think the goal line is too low, 9 of Ukraine's 12 qualification games had 2+ goals, as did 5 of Spain's last 6 outings, the game could open up, as players tire in the draining conditions.

Too many imponderables in the Saudi-Tunisia tie for me, was leaning towards the african side, before dos Santos was injured. Several very good judges like the Saudi's, so you could take a chance at a big price. I am going to leave it alone, the 8-0 defeat to Germany four years ago worries me.

My main interest is in the late game, despite winning 11 corners and hitting the woodwork twice, Poland were too bad to be true against Ecuador, do not believe they can play so poorly again.

The German defence, or lack of it, is a shambles, their last 6 matches have averaged 5 goals, there HAS to be goals in this game. Going to go big on "over" and a small wager on Poland at a massive quote.

2.5 points over 2 goals Spain-Ukraine 1.92 asian line
4 points over 2.5 goals Germany-Poland 1.86 betfair
1 point over 3.5 goals Germany-Poland 2.98 betfair
1 point Poland 8.40 betfair

Good Luck.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Banker of the World Cup .............

One sure bet tonight............ we will see more crowd footage than for any match so far.

Everyone's second favourite team are on show and that means any number of scantily dressed brazilian females, dancing to a samba beat, whether there is music or not. The television producers love that ! If one station showed the match and another the fans, the viewing figures would be close, when the Samba Stars are in town.

Brazil have more attacking options than any other team in the world, on a "going" day, you cannot stop them. But they do concede and have only 3 clean sheets in 11 starts, both full backs have had tremendous careers, but are ageing and you can get behind them.

Rumours are that Ronaldo is fat (sans change) and has blisters, players have been out "clubbing" and the "b" team beat the first eleven in a full scale training game. I have heard it all before.

Think Brazil will win, but it may take some time, it took 43 minutes for them to breakdown the might of New Zealand in the final warm up fixture. Croatia are very well organised, only conceding five in qualification, where they remained unbeaten, the two defensive midfielders can keep Brazil at bay,for a while . Babic and Srna break very quickly and the pace of the croats can trouble Brazil, particularly if Carlos and Cafu go walkabout too often.

Think Croatia will score, I like the 2-1 scoreline to the champions, will also take a small bet on a ht/ft draw/Brazil split, but my main bet is on the half time draw. Anyway a match to savour and yes, I do mean the football, the beautiful game.

1 point Brazil 2-1 10.5 betfair
1 point draw-brazil 5.2 betfair
3 points ht draw 2.88 betfair .....good price

Good Luck.

The Oath Comrades to trouble Les Bleus

The best Swiss team in decades take on France in Stuttgart tonight. They are building towards Euro 2008, which they are co-hosting and have a whole generation of talented youngsters coming to the fore. A fact not lost on Arsene Wenger, who has alredy snapped up two of them and is no doubt looking at several others.

Seven of the squad play in Germany, the most of any visitors to the finals.They were unbeaten in qualification, including two meetings with France, both ending in draws. This is a team inproving with every match and I am confident that they will progress from this section.

France are, as we all know a wonderfully talented team, good to see that Domenech has seen sense and will start with Franck Ribery, who has been outstanding all season. If they all click, then no one will live with them, but this is a big if, despite their abilities, their confidence can be fragile at times. Get the feeling they would not be too unhappy with a draw today, going to side with the Swiss on the "asian" and a little on the half time market.

Not playing on the first game, understand the roof may be on the stadium, which may push the temperatures up even further, it was 38 degrees yesterday for the early kick off, very draining.

Think I have a good bet on the Brazil- Croatia match, at nice odds, will put it online after the SK-Togo contest.

4 points switzerland +3/4 asian line 2.04
1.5 points half time draw France-Switzerland 2.28 betfair....... odds should increase later

Good Luck

Monday, June 12, 2006

Czech Republic ...... one tournament too far ?

That may be harsh, but there is little doubt that they have gone backwards since Euro 2004 and I feel they are a team to oppose today.

They struggled in qualification, losing 3 times, no other country lost as many matches and made the finals. Key players have aged together, Nedved, now 33, came out of international retirement and Poborsky, 34, is playing in the Czech second division. Infact, 9 of the squad are over 30. Star names Koller, Nedved, Baros and Rosicky have all struggled with and/or are carrying injuries.

No real superstars in the USA team, Landon Donovan is taking his time fulfilling that role, but they are a settled side, with good team spirit and one or two, especially Beasley, have blistering pace. In the last World Cup they reached the quarter finals and impressed with their fitness, that could be a big asset in Germany, given the conditions. They should be able to exploit the Czech Republic on the counter attack.

USA finished above Mexico in qualification, their only losses coming after passage to Germany was confirmed.

No time to write much about the Italy-Ghana tie, apart from, I think the goal line is too low.

2 points USA 4.60 betfair
lay 2 points Czech Republic 2.04 betfair
2 points over 2 goals Italy-Ghana 1.86

Good Luck.

Only three hours sleep last night ......

....... no, not the beer, or the weather...... the golf. Thank you very much Adam Scott, was so mad after the Barclays Classic, that it took me 5 hours to wind down and get to bed.

Angry with myself that is, pre tournament I kept looking at Vijay Singh, how could he be 25-1,
his form was not terrible, just not up to his normal, very high standard. Last year he was 5-1 for this event, called two "judges" and both said "he could not win" , thank you very much to them too.

Of course, we all miss winners, that is not why I was so miffed (not strong enough a word), no clever clogs here, decides on Sunday that VJ is not value and places a big bet on Scott. The young aussie plays well, has a very short putt to go 2 shots clear on the back 9 and is odds on, across the board. Feeling very smug at this point, not backed a loser (Singh) , had a large winning wager (Scott) and then ...... Adam Scott THREE PUTTS FROM 4 FEET. My granny could have holed any of these putts and she has been dead 25 years ! The rest is history.

Anyway, that is why I am tired today. Three more World Cup matches , going against the tide on all three, seems like EVERONE has the same ideas today and the odds reflect this.

First up is the Australia- Japan tie, these teams will get to know each other very well over the next few years, as Australia is now in Asia, at least for World Cup qualification purposes, in the same way as Kazakstan and Israel are in Europe !

The world and his uncle (very family orientated blog today) seem to expect a low scoring match / draw and "under" is the most popular choice. I agree to a certain extent, but if either have hopes of progression to the next stage, then they should be looking for the win today, with Brazil and Croatia up next. We can take over two goals at 1.90 and I consider that good value, as both have been creating chances in recent outings and are likely to look for a winner. Just have a feeling that this game could really open up and will also take a very small interest on over 3.5 goals.

Will be back later with my views on the later games.

4 points over 2 goals 1.90 asian line
1 point over 3.5 goals 4.90 betfair...... this is like to increase nearer kick off

Good Luck.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Ivory Coast .......welcome to the World Cup

First ever appearance in the World Cup finals and you start against two time winner Argentina, welcome to the jungle !

I have already backed Ivory Coast to qualify from the "group of death" and to win outright, reasons in my archive "World Cup Preview.......part 1......". They are a team I hold in the highest regard and quite frankly the odds on offer today, simply do not make sense. Of course, Argentina should be favourites, but these odds defy belief, win or lose, they are wrong. Even if Argentina win 4-0, these odds are wrong ! Think I have made that clear.

How often can you back a world class team, at a neutral venue, at 7.50 ?

Pleased that the South Americans will not start with either Messi or Tevez, they are wonderful talents and would have been the first names on my team sheet, injuries aside. Come the next World Cup it will be Messi's face on every magazine cover and not Ronaldinho, but maybe it is 4 years too soon for him.

Having said all this, as we are already so involved, I am only going to suggest a nominal bet on the African side, if you have not played them so far, then bet a little more.

Also think we may see some goals, the ball is definitely "moving" in the air, Argentina have gone "over" in 6 of last 7 starts, IC have scored in 13 of their last 14. Over 2.25 has plenty of interest, half stake returned with 2 goals. Thats it, enjoy the matches today.

1 point Ivory Coast 7.50 general
4 points over 2.25 goals 1.96 asian line

Good Luck.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Onwards and Upwards .........

...... in the words of the (former) great Martin Allen, only joking, thanks for everything MA, not sure about your timing though.

Firstly, Svetlana Kuznetsova made the final at Roland Garros and our each way bet at 10-1 looks good, with the place portion at 4.33 already landed. Think a little bet on Henin-Hardene to win 2-1 in sets is advisable, if Kuznetsova takes just one set we will add to our profits and she is very capable of this on a good day.

On day 2 in Germany, Sweden should have too much firepower for Trinidad and Tobago, the caribbean side will have one eye on the England game, which will be their "final". Larsson, Zlatan and co will want to score a few, as this section could well be decided by goals scored, if h2h is level. They scored 30 in qualification, the average of 3 per game being the highest in Europe, Sweden like to hammer the "minnows", 6 and 7 against Malta attest to that.Think that they will cover the handicap.

My friend, Swedish, but not normally a Sweden backer, agrees, he has bet 45,000 euros on them to win by 2+ at odds of 1.80. He has also played 15,000 euros on Ivory Coast to win the cup outright, at around 100 times, the easy way to make a million ! As you know I tipped this bet earlier in the week, hope you didn't bet as much.

Promised to discuss the bookings on the England game, not going to put this down as a selection, but anything around the 1.60 mark for Paraguay to collect the first booking is perfectly acceptable. England are very disciplined in this aspect of play, the south americans much less so, this was alluded to in the earlier article.

I will post again later, with my views on the Argentina-Ivory Coast match, which promises to be a cracker, please check back.

1 point Henin-Hardene 2-1 sets 4.60 betfair
4 points Sweden -1.5 goals 1.76 asian line

Good Luck.

Carnival time .............

Saturday will be party time across England, the weather is fantastic and the "three lions" start their campaign against Paraguay. Everyone has caught World Cup fever, flags and bunting whichever way you look and even my normally sleepy (until closing time) home town, is putting up a big screen for the annual carnival.

I rate Paraguay quite highly, you can find out why in my previous post "Anibal Lecture To Silence Lions?". My first inclination was to take them +3/4 on the asian line, but have decided to look at other markets for my selection..

England do not score too many goals, overall World Cup record is 68 goals in 50 games, at an average 1.36, if we only count group games that figure is reduced to 1.14 per game. In qualification they only managed 17 in 10 games, ten fewer than the second placed team, Poland.

In recent friendly fixtures, this figure has increased but Sven's attitude to these games has already been well documented. They went in level at half time in 5 of their last 6 qualifying matches, therefore, as the games become more important, the tighter and safer their approach.

They will not panic, or over commit in search of an early goal, Paraguay will be delighted to reach half time level and I think this is where the value lies.
Currently 2.28 on Betfair, this is some 9% above my idea of the true odds, so we should bet strongly.

5 points England-Paraguay HT draw 2.28 betfair.

Good Luck.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Finally's show time !

After what seems like thousands of friendlies and millions of column inches on Rooney`s foot, it is finally here, "the greatest show on earth". So, sit back and enjoy, this is going to be fun.

Guess Germany will find a way to win the opener, but find no interest in the odds on offer. Going to wait a couple of hours and bet on match 2.

Ecuador are in a bit of a mess, the football federation are involved in a US visa scandal, which is set to go to trial. Then this week, promised bonuses for all players were cut, just days before the start of the tournament, guess they were relying on the visa money.

They qualified with 28 points, 23 of them earned at home, in Quito, 2800m above sea level. Since the last World Cup only once have they won on their travels and that was in Bolivia, at even higher altitude ! Goals have been very hard to come by, only 3 in 6 games this year and 4 in the last 9.

Ecuador play a cautious game and have a very experienced defence, De La Cruz, Espinosa and Hurtado have some 270 appearances between them.

Two stats stand out for this match, Ecuador have gone in level at half time in 16 of the last 25 matches and Poland don't do draws. They have played 10 qualification ties, followed by 8 friendlies without a stalemate. Included in that run is a 3-0 win over Ecuador last November, in Spain.

I think Poland are a class above Ecuador , they will have massive support in Germany and will be better suited by the conditions. If we take them on the asian line they are a very respectable 2.10 to win, but if we take the half time draw, full time Poland double result, indicated by the stats, it is a very tempting 5.80.

3 points Poland -1/2 2.10 asian line
1.5 points draw ht- poland ft 5.80 betfair

Good Luck.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Croatia meet Spain ........

..... in Switzerland tonight, both will field strong line ups, Croatia will probably begin with the 11 that will play against Brazil next week.

At this late stage, neither will want to lose, or to pick up any injuries. I see this as a glorified training session, everyone is happy with a draw and that is my selection.

2 points Croatia-Spain draw 3.20 centrebet/ bet and win.

Good Luck.

My idea of the winner ......

.... like everyone else, I have been giving this earnest consideration, for some considerable time.

I like my stats and have decided the winner will be european, not too old (see below,taken from FIFA site), with a strong squad and good draw. My short list is Germany (poor squad), Netherlands (tough group), England ( odds too short) and Spain (my choice).

I know they have a terrible record and always seem to disappoint but they are strong in every position, have a very nice draw and they are unbeaten since forever, well, since Euro 2004 anyway. It will help that 5 of the squad now play in the Premiership and they have developed a little steel, which was previously missing, now when they go a goal behind, they roll up their sleeves and fight.

Up front Torres, Villa and Raul look to have goals in them, defensively they are very sound, only conceding three goals in qualification and have, in Iker Casillas, argubly the best goalkeeper in the world. In midfield the only problem is who to leave out, they have an embarrassment of riches, Alonso, Fabregas, Garcia, Xavi, Reyes, Joaquin, Iniesta, Albelda ... the "b" midfield could start for most countries.

Given so many options, they will be less affected by injury/ suspension than most and this could prove vital as the tournament progresses. At the odds on offer, they are my outright selection.

5 points Spain outright 18.0 betfair

Those who believe in the power of statistics combined with the value of youth can strike from their list of potential 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ winners the following teams: Brazil, France, Italy, Czech Republic, Sweden, Portugal, Serbia and Montenegro, USA, Australia, Croatia, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The reason? In none of the last ten FIFA World Cup competitions have the winners possessed a squad with an average age of more than 28 – the 'weakness' of all those teams listed above.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Anibal Lecture To Silence Lions ?..........

Couldn't resist the headline.

Anibal Ruiz, outspoken coach of Paraguay is not worried about group favourites England, he considers Sweden a much bigger threat. Confidence is not a problem for this guy, he has been talking up his team to anyone who will listen, for months. Maybe it is time to pay attention.

I am loath to dismiss anyone out of hand, but Trinidad and Tobago look very weak, this collection of lower league players and others way beyond their sell by date, do not seem good enough. Of course, this will come back to haunt me, but there you go, we have a group of three.

Looking at the prices to qualify from Group C, England are 1.14, Sweden 1.42 and Paraguay 2.62, should the south americans really be this big ?

They have qualified from the group stage of the last two World Cups, losing to the winners, France, in 1998 after extra time, and to eventual runners up ,Germany, in 2002. They followed this by reaching the Olympic final in 2004, losing to a good Argentine side.

Paraguay have continued to improve, qualifying with a little ease from the Conmebol section, where they took 4 points and kept two clean sheets against Argentina.

They have a good blend of youth and experience, some have suggested that this is an ageing team, but 7 are under 25 and only 4 over 30. Star players Roque Santa Cruz (Bayern) and Nelson Valdez (Dortmund), along with the very promising Julio Dos Santos, all play in the Bundesliga, which will help and all are in their early 20's . In Jose Montiel they have their own Theo Walcott, only 18, he has already played six times and looks set to play in Serie A next season, probably with Udinese.

Paraguay are a physical team, it could be worth looking at a buy in their bookings market, they collected two red and eleven yellow cards in 4 starts in 2002. They will play for a draw in the opening fixture with England and may switch from their normal 4-4-2 to 4-5-1, in an attempt to stifle the midfield.

I will take a small bet on them to qualify, come saturday I will look at the "bookings" and have a strong match selection at value odds.

2 points Paraguay to qualify from Group B 2.62 betfair

Good Luck.

Golden Boot ......

Looking at previous tournaments you need a minimum six goals and to be an out and out striker.

My choice at the 33-1 on offer is Pauleta, his goals to games ratio, for players who have 50+ appearances for their country, is only bettered by Ronaldo.

Portugal are in a group that looks likely to produce goals, they were big scorers in qualification, netting 35 times, including 7 against Russia. Pauleta scored in 8 of these 12 matches, to add to his tally of 46 goals in 82 appearances.

Unless injured, he will start every game as the lone frontman, a system also employed by his club side Paris St-Germain. He finished the season as leading scorer in Ligue 1 with 21 goals, 7 clear of the runner up. This earned him a new, lucrative contract, which ensures he comes here with no distractions.

Portugal's all time leading scorer, recently passing legend Eusebio, Pauleta disappointed in Euro 2004, maybe due to public expectation. However, Scolari kept faith in him and it has been repaid, now, without the hopes of a home nation on his shoulders, he should produce the goods.

Opponents, Iran have been involved in high scoring matches recently, their last four games producing 20 goals. Angola, have conceded goals to Lesotho (fifa ranked 141) and Mauritius (146) and have had a disappointing Cup of Nations, since causing a major shock in qualification, they look the weak link. Even Mexico who are normally watertight have been involved in goals on their travels.

If Portugal build a little confidence, they could go a long way in Germany, they can have few complaints about the group.

3 points Pauleta top Portugal scorer 2.875 general
2 points Golden Boot 34.0 general ...........

NB 40.0 is available on Maltco, for those that have access to this quote, you can lay it off at 6 points less on Betfair, for an instant profit.

Good Luck.

Paris in the spring and our thoughts turn to .......

.......... tennis of course.

French Open has reached the quarter final stage today and I have a view on two matches. Svetlana Kuznetsova is my choice to defeat, in form Dinara Safina, to my mind she should be a strong favourite, yet the bookmakers are finding it hard to seperate them. Kuznetsova is a year younger but has far more experience and importantly, already has a grand slam title under her belt. This is the furthest Safina has ever gone in a grand slam, she was 5-1 down in the final set against Sharapova in the last round and managed to turn it around. That says a lot about her fighting spirit but she was being outplayed to be in that position in the first place. Feel that all the pressure is on her today.

The winner will meet either Venus Williams or Vaidisova in the semis, so this is a golden oppotunity to reach the final. Therefore, will also try a little outright each way bet too, the place odds mean we have 4.33 to reach the final and I make Svetlana odds on, whoever she meets in the semis, so this is value.

Strongly feel that the Hingis- Clijsters match will go the distance, "over" games can be backed, but I prefer to take both to win 2-1 in sets, which gives us odds against. These two match up well, neither will give up and last three meetings have gone to a third set.

2.5 points Kuznetsova 1.99 betfair
1 point each way Kuznetsova 10-1 1/3 1.2. hills/ blue square
2 points Hingis 2-1 sets 4.6 betfair
2.5 points Clijsters 2-1 sets 4.1 betfair

Good Luck.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The quiet before the storm ......

Most of the action takes place in Scandinavia today and I think we can keep the good run going, with a couple of winners.

Norwegian Division 1, is producing plenty of goals, average for the season so far is 3.10, up almost o.25 per game, over the same period last year. Two of the biggest contributors meet today, Moss have averaged 4.20 goals in all home fixtures and all Follo away matches to date, have a mean of 4.00. I am confident that they will produce at least 3 goals today and suggest that even the low odds on offer have value.

In Tippeligaen, Start will be looking to rediscover some of the form that took them so close to the championship last year, leading going into the final day, they missed out by one point. That has haunted them this season and they find theirselves languishing in the relegation zone, albeit only 4 points off 3rd place. They travel to Sandefjord today who were in league 1 last year, like many promoted teams they have started well, but their form doesn't stand up to close scrutiny. They have only met the poorer sides at home and are heavily reliant on the goals of Andreas Tegstrom.
If Start are going to make any sort of a showing this year they must get a result today, we can bet them level ball on the asian handicap and I think this is minimal risk.

4 points Moss-Follo over 2.5 goals 1.55 unibet ....... may find higher on the exchanges later
4 points Start level ball 2.02 asian line

Good Luck.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Ivory Coast to an easy win........

...... hope that is the the headline later today, following their final World Cup warm up in Paris.

Opponents, Slovenia, have massive problems. For the midweek fixture against Trinidad and Tobago, they were without most of their starting defence, those players are still missing, plus two others. Despite having the worse of the first half, Slovenia did run out 3-1 winners, with Ceh man of the match, he is also injured today. But wait, it gets even worse, 3 others are unavailable as they are playing in norwegian league games tomorrow.

Don't leave, it gets worse, or better (!), only 12 players originally travelled to France, 5 others will have joined them late last night, having played vital league games for Gorica and Domzale in Slovenia yesterday!

Les Elephants should have a full strength team, all of the support of the french crowd (13 of the squad play in the domestic league) and should run out easy winners.

4 points Ivory Coast 1.85 general
1.5 points Ivory Coast-Ivory Coast ht/ft 3.0 stan james

Good Luck.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Yet another stomach bug .........

Croatia had to cancel training yesterday after five players went down with stomach problems.

Balaban, Olic, Seric, and Simic were sick overnight, Prso later in the day. In addition, Tudor and Kovac will also be missing for the meeting with Poland, in Wolfsburg, Germany.

There is a good relationship between the two countries, the Polish coach has been talking about "the sporting side of the match". If Poland are not able to take something from this game, then they are in big trouble. On the asian line we will win half the bet with a draw and this looks the way to go.

4 points Poland +1/4 2.05 asian line

Good Luck.

Friday, June 02, 2006

World Cup Preview ..... part 1.... Ivory Coast

There is going to be so much written about the World Cup that I have decided to concentrate on one team in each group. This may not be my idea of the group winner, but if not, will be one that I consider to be overpriced, under rated and capable of causing an upset.

Going to start in Group C with the Ivory Coast, they qualified from a tough section containing african giants Cameroon and Egypt. In a free scoring group, they kept six clean sheets and managed to win in Cairo, a feat made all the more impressive by Egypt's 17 goals in the other 4 home ties. They came close to repeating the feat in the Cup of Nations final earlier this year, losing in a penalty shoot out.

I was really impressed with them in the Cup of Nations, their team spirit was amazing and Didier Drogba showed true leadership qualities, a whole new side to his game. Les Elephants beat Cameroon and Nigeria on the way to the final, their only reverse coming in the group stage, after qualification was already earned. They are a very proud team, proud of being african, proud of being ivorian and will fight to the end.

All but one of the squad are based in Europe, Drogba, Kolo Toure and Eboue in the Premiership and more than half play in France. Guy Demel, the only german based player, plies his trade in Hamburg where the Ivory Coast start their campaign against Argentina.

They are a squad of immense talent and presence and are strong in every position. It is likely that eight of the first choice eleven will compete in the Champions League next year. Zokora ( St.Etienne) and Yaya Toure (Olympiakos), Kolo's brother, are being stalked by every big club in Europe, they may also find their way to the Premiership before too long.

In World Cup qualification, strike partners Drogba and Dindane scored 15 goals between them. Before moving to Lens, Dindane scored 50 goals in 132 appearances in Belgium, where he was voted player of the year in 2003. The fact that he was forced to withdraw from the Cup of Nations makes their achievement, even more admirable.

Although they have plenty of experience at the top level, this is a very young team, average age of the outfield players is under 24 and they are growing together, as a team. Many of them have played together for a decade, having graduated from the Guillou academy in Abidjan.

Coach, frenchman Henri Michel, is vastly experienced and this will be his 4th World Cup, having previously led France, Cameroon and Morocco in the finals.

It is not just in Africa that they have impressed, following recent matches against Switzerland and Spain, both opposition coaches were inspired to quote .....

Swiss coach Kobi Kuhn had words of praise for his opponents."Ivory Coast are definitely the best team in Africa," "They showed they are very strong," added the coach who is revered in Switzerland after steering the country to its first World Cup for twelve years.

Spanish chief Luis Aragones offered..."People will have enjoyed a game against a very good side", "It was difficult because physically they are very strong".

I accept that they are in an extremely difficult group but feel that their physical style will match up well with Argentina, in particular. Should they get off to a good start, they could have a very strong tournament indeed. At around 3.50 (betfair) to qualify from the "group of death", Ivory Coast are a value selection.

Do not want to refer to them as the tournament dark horse, as I feel they are much better than that, but at 100-1 what else can we call them, so , the tournament dark horse or elephant it is then.

SquadGoalkeepers: Jean-Jacques Tizie (Esperance Tunis, Tunisia), Boubacar Barry Copa (KSK Beveren, Belgium), Gerard Gnanhouan (Montpellier, France)Defenders: Cyrille Domoraud (Creteil, France), Blaise Kouassi (ES Troyes, France), Abdoulaye Meite (Marseille, France), Etienne Arthur Boka (Strasbourg, France), Kolo Toure (Arsenal, England), Emmanuel Eboue (Arsenal, England), Marc Zoro (FC Messina, Italy)Midfielders: Didier Zokora (St Etienne, France), Emerse Fae (Nantes, France), Kanga Gauthier Akale (Auxerre, France), Romaric Ndri Koffi (Le Mans, France), Gnegneri Yaya Toure (Olympiakos,Greece), Gilles Yapi Yapo (Young Boys, Switzerland), Guy Roland Demel (Hamburg, Germany)Strikers: Bakari Kone (Nice, France), Didier Drogba (Chelsea, England), Arouna Kone (PSV Eindhoven, Holland), Bonaventure Kalou (Paris Saint-Germain, France), Abdoul Kader Keita (Lille, France), Aruna Dindane (Lens, France)

5 points to qualify from group c @ 3.50 betfair
2 points outright @ 100.0 betfair............ to take a hedging position later, he said hopefully.

Good Luck.

Togo were the first country ........

...... to arrive in Germany, but it seems that this has done little to aid team spirit.

Rumours are rife of bad feeling in the camp, many observers consider this the most ill prepared squad to compete in the World Cup in recent times.

The chicken pox outbreak at the camp ( it is unsure how many players were affected) and rows over money, have done little to raise expectations.

We can take a chance today on Liechtenstein to get something out of the friendly in Vaduz.

I will also take Germany to win their final warm up match today, the press will have their knives out should they fail.

4 points Germany -1 goal asian line 2.075
2.5 points Liechtenstein 6.50 general
1.5 points Liechtenstein-Togo draw 4.00 general

Good Luck.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Serie B playoffs start today .....

........ and the rules strongly favour the team with the higher league placing. Not only do they get to play the second leg at home, that is normal practise, but should the scores be level over the two legs then the higher placed side will progress.

Therefore, it is vital for the home team to win today.

Modena are in a wonderful run of form, unbeaten in over three months, with nine wins from twelve matches. Mantova have gone in the opposite direction, after a fantastic start they were clear leaders at Christmas, in the second half of the season, they have won 17 fewer points than in the first. After 28 rounds they were 18 points clear of Modena, yet finished just two ahead, thats over a point per game worse and relegation form.

Serie B top scorer, Cristian Bucchi, is in top form for Modena scoring in the last three league games.

I have three other selections today but no time to go into detailed analysis. All stats point to the "over" in the Umea-BP game, last 6 for home side and last 4/5 from visitors, were 3+ goals, these are easily the two highest scorers in Superettan. Last year, BP had 67% of away games finishing 3+ goals.

3 points Modena -1/2 2.02 asian line
3 points Mypa -1.25 goals asian line 1.97
3 points Umea-Brommapojkarna over 2.5 goals 1.79
2 points Serbia U21 level asian line 2.19

Good Luck.