Saturday, May 26, 2012


Hugely busy day today, I have sent subscribers four match previews , plus a look at the French Open Tennis outright markets and some basic stats and hints for the Eurovision Song Contest. These were split over two emails one sent early and the other mid morning today and they are reproduced, admittedly in a heavily censored format below. The two emails ( in uncensored form) cost much less than a cup of coffee and the service offers terrific value for money....

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The J League game has just finished ( 1-1) , Urawa took the lead with just two minutes of normal time remaining, hosts equalised in the first minute of injury time, the Reds hit the woodwork with a free header from two metres out ( which Harry Redknapp's "missus could have scored") in the 96th minute, the very last action of the game !


There is a huge amount to cover today over the two emails, so I will get straight on with things....




This will be interesting,with exciting Sunderland winger James McClean making his first senior start for the Republic of Ireland , he is going to start on the left, but might only get 45 minutes or so. At the back, the hosts have been struggling this week, with John O'Shea, Kevin Foley and keeper Shay Given out, Keiren Westwood will start in goal, he has not played a league game since before Christmas for Sunderland and kept just one clean sheet in his ten starts this season. Richard Dunne and Sean St Ledger have also been doubts all week , but both now seem set to play, but might not quite be 100%. Paul McShane has been called up to the squad as replacement and will play today. Robbie Keane, Keith Andrews and Keith Fahey have also been fitness concerns and Keane only arrived late after playing for LA Galaxy last weekend. Bosnia have named only four defenders in their 22 man squad, which seems very odd, they do have  a couple of midfielders who can play at the back, but still, it is cause for concern, especially in the key left bank position and offensively, there could be a lot of space/ joy for the Irish. At the other end of the pitch , Vedad Ibisevic,Zvjezdan Misimovic, Miralem Pjanic and  Edin Dzeko amongst others give them plenty and attractive offensive options, with well over 50 international goals between the quartet. The visitors have a habit of conceding heavily in these pre tournamnet friendlies and would probably rather be on holiday, goals for me.1.5 units "over" 2.25 goals 2.03 asian line.


A win for either side will put them firmly in title contention and we can expect a committed performance from both, but the hosts do have an AFC Champions League decider in midweek and might be a little distracted by that, they also had several players involved with the national squad earlier in the week, one made his debut, which was a great honour for the newly promoted club, but a further distraction given that they also played that match in Korea last week(see below) and another domestic fixture since then. Urawa have underachieved in recent campaigns, but do look a very likely challenger again this season, they were said to be impressive in winning their last two starts without conceding. Really gruelling month for Tokyo and with the AFC match ahead we can chance a little on the visitors. I watched the FCT- Kashima Antlers game on Matchday 6 which came after the hosts had a similarly busy schedule through late March / early April and they were very lacklustre that day, but on the ball a few days later for their AFC fixture. Antlers completely dominated, won 2-1, it really should have been at least four and Urawa, who will have huge travelling support at this fixture, could get similar success. I do not want to say too much more here for XXX XXX X XXXX  XX XXX. Urawa Reds level ball 2.28 asian line.

EUROVISION SONG CONTESTI am not putting up a bet here, but a few basic facts. The running order is key, not as key as having some friendly neighbours who will vote for you of course, but very important none the less, with eight of the last ten winners being drawn 17th or higher. 50% of the votes are, since 2009, meant to come from national juries composed of music industry insiders, which gives, or is supposed to give, a little more emphasis on the actual song, which might hamper the chances of the Russian grannies ! 
2011 Three of top four draw 12 +
2010 Top four drawn 14 +
2009 Three of top five drawn 18 +
2008 Five of top six drawn 18 +
2007 Top five drawn 15 +
Last seven winners all drawn between 14 and 24, with average draw order of 19, last four all between 19 and 24, average 21.25.
The draw is given below, favourite Sweden and the countries after them have the "perfect" spots, Loreen has a good chance but is incredibly short in the betting. 

01  United Kingdom

02  Hungary

03  Albania

04  Lithuania

05  Bosnia and Herzegovina

06  Russia

07  Iceland

08  Cyprus

09  France

10  Italy

11  Estonia

12  Norway

13  Azerbaijan

14  Romania

15  Denmark

16  Greece

17  Sweden

18  Turkey

19  Spain

20  Germany

21  Malta

22  Macedonia

23  Ireland

24  Serbia

25  Ukraine

26  Moldova

Good Luck.



Stevenage Borough and Sheffield United fought out a 0-0 draw last night and another stalemate in the other semi-final is definitely on the cards this afternoon, with the pair having already played to two draws this season. Huddersfield threw away the lead in both previous meetings, which is their normal modus operandi having drawn an incredible 14 times in matches where they have led, effectively blowing 28 points, holding on to just half of those leads would have seen them already promoted. That failure to see out games and a belief that he would not take them up through the playoffs, cost Lee Clark his job and Simon Grayson with huge post season experience as a player and manager took  charge. We have not seen a big change in the Terriers yet, at least in regard to letting leads slip, but they remain tough to beat and have lost just seven of their last 70 league starts over the last 18 months, in what is a very competitive division. Town have showed huge ambition so far in managing to keep hold of prolific striker Jordan Rhodes , despite plenty of big money offers, they wrapped him in cottoon wool for the last two league games and will be looking for him to fire them to Wembley. This is Grayson's seventh post season and Town's third straight, he said ....

"The players need to learn from the experiences that they have gone through before in these sorts of occasions. You can learn from successes and failures in semi-finals and it is important that the players take on board what has gone on before. Sometimes though, the raw naivety of players can help them grasp the opportunity as they won't be worrying about the bigger picture.
"The players haven't shown any fear over the last week; our training sessions have been very positive. All the supporters that I have spoken to are looking forward to the two games. Everyone knows anything can happen - that is the nature of the Play-Offs - but we need to grasp the opportunity and have no regrets."

Grayson has been able to focus on the post season for many weeks and is boosted by the return of not just Rhodes but several other key players that have been out through injury and they have performed well on the big Stadium MK playing surface in recent visits, they pretty much dominated the earlier game here this season and missed a late penalty after Dons equalised and won 3-1 here last season , again missing a penalty ! Dons play some very nice football and will have plenty of possession, but too often it is going nowhere fast and despite the 84 goals they have scored ( five more than Town), I see them posing far less offensive threat and something of a flat track bully, as they have won just one of their last nine starts against top 6 teams and also lost at home recently to Carlisle United, Brentford and Walsall, almost all of the games in which they have run in a few goals have been against struggling teams. Upfront I think they do not match up well with the other leading contenders and a player like Charlie MacDonald, who is a solid lower league striker, cannot be compared to Rhodes or even Novak, who has Championship potential or Lee, who is an Irish International. I have to take the visitors, who will have massive travelling support of 4,500 + cheering them on 1.5 units Huddersfied Town +0.25 ball 1.94 asian line.


But let's start with a few words about the League 1 playoff between Sheffield United and Stevenage Borough, the first match ended 0-0 on Friday and was, as the scoreline suggests, a typically tough, no quarter given, playoff first leg, with few chances and all involved terrified of making a mistake. Things tend to open up in the second leg and only two of the last thirteen Football League playoff games that finished all square in the first match have then gone into extra time and one of those was a wide open 3-3 draw. The six that ended 0-0 have failed to produce a stalemate in the second meeting, with five home wins and one away victory. These are two clubs with very different histories, Borough were still in the Conference two years ago and are looking to record a third straight promotion, United have fallen on hard times this year with a season in League 1, in 2009-10 they were 8th in the Championship three levels above Boro and were in the EPL as recently as 2007. This is almost as close as it gets to David and Goliath between two clubs within the same division, United's average home crowd is over five times that of the visitors and their smallest attendance this season is three times that of Boro's biggest ! Playing budgets are inline with those attendances and these two should not be competing at the same level and to be honest, long term they cannot, eventually United will move on and re-establish themselves as a Championship side at the upper end of the table, sooner or later Stevenage will find their true level and they will do well if that is above League 2 .But this is a one off game and anything can happen. The pair met here in the league at the end of last month and that day will long be remembered as the one on which they blew their chance of automatic promotion, even worse, they lost out to their cross town rivals Wednesday and the only way they can exorcise that particular demon is to win promotion themselves. That day United were 2-0 down early in the second half, after looking like they were going to overwhelm the visitors in the opening exchanges,but fought back to claim a share of the spoils at 2-2 and improved greatly after the introduction of Richard Cresswell and Ryan Flynn from the bench. The pace of Flynn out wide caused a lot of problems for Boro and so did the aerial bombardment that United put them under, however, it was clear on Friday night that Stevenage had done plenty of work to try and come up with a gameplan to stop the crosses from Matthew Lowton and Matthew Hill, but it was at the expense of some offensive threat and both coaches will have been giving tactics plenty of thought over the weekend. A really interesting game, if United still had disgraced top scorer in their ranks, they would be my pick, but if he had seen out the season, they would probably already be in the Championship. Stats do suggest we should see a winner this evening and United have just about had the upper hand over the last 120 minutes of action between the two, but no Evans ( of course) , James Beattie is also out and Cresswell might only be able to play a cameo role from the bench again, so goals are looking a problem and very little value in the current quotes. Fun to watch and that is what I will do, a watching brief for me.



Relegation in 2010 has worked out pretty well for FC Tokyo, not only did they come straight back up as champions winning the title by eight points, but also did the double winning the Emperor's Cup, which got them into the Champions League, where they have performed well, collecting 11 points from five group games and sitting top of group F on goal difference, just ahead of Ulsan. They have also made a solid start to their J-League season and sit in 6th place, six points off the top with a game in hand. The visitors face two big domestic games in the next ten days, hosting the clubs immediately above and below them in the table. They are clearly a club on the" up "and one we should keep an eye on.  I watched them in their 4-2 defeat of Brisbane Roar recently, the Australians teams are at a big disadvantage at this stage of the year and Roar didn't help themselves by playing a very high defensive line, which Tokyo had little trouble getting behind, but the Japanese club looked a little defensively fragile and the match was evenly poised at 2-2 before the visitors tired late in the second period.

Ulsan are a typically strong Korean side, a nation who have dominated the competition in recent seasons, something we have touched upon in the past, but which may be changing, but that is something I want to cover ahead of the Round of 16 games and will leave for now. The hosts drew 2-2 in Tokyo and are also unbeaten in group games, they are 4th in the K-League, just two points off the top and visit the leaders at the weekend.

Hosts can only win the group with a win, both will probably have at least one eye on their upcoming domestic games, if Ulsan really needed the win, I would back them to get it.  Problem is that you can kind of pick your last 16 opponent, group winner will face Kashiwa Reysol, who were Japanese champions last year, but who are struggling this season, runner up will meet Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande, who are a far more unknown quality, but have made giant strides in recent seasons. Winning the League 1 title in 2010, the Super League by a huge 15 points last year and are already top again. They have a trio of Brazilian players in their ranks and have just signed Lucas Barrios from Borussia Dortmund. Guangzhou have been inconsistent in the group stage, winning 5-1 at Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, which had everyone sitting up and taking notice, but later losing at home to Buriram of Thailand. However, they took four points from Reysol and that defeat of JHM is probably enough to make Ulsan want to avoid the Chinese champions, other bonus points are the easier travel to Japan and the fact that they can actually try to win in front of their own supporters today. No bet for me atm, but I favour the home win in general terms and if it looks like Ulsan are "at the races" I might get involved "in play". This is the most interesting game for the future IMO, I will cover the other two in more basic terms.



A fantastic draw for Rafa in the Men's Singles and it is hard to argue with his odds on quotes across the board, but far too short for my taste.

The Women's Singles is far more interesting from a betting perspective.


Hopefully, some other bookmakers will offer odds and I will update the situation in the early sunday email if that is the case.


Hosts are unbeaten in four and were really buoyed by the four points they took from a two game West Coast road trip, where they drew in San Jose and won in Seattle, defensively they have tightened up considerably allowing just three goals in five starts. They will also have a pair of fresh legs, which could be key with both clubs making their third start in a week, as Chris Birchall ( starter last two years for LA Galaxy) and Ethan Finlay are ready to return to action and gives them incresed midfield options. Crew have .... REST OF THE PREVIEW IS RESTRICTED TO SUBSCRIBERS

Good Luck.

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