I have not posted much on the blog, Twitter or website this week, but have sent out a few freebie previews
Nine football previews this week so far, seven winners, one push and one loss , today, I have previewed six matches for subscribers, four today and two for the Saturday morning J-League matches... I am a busy boy !
As I have told you many times before, I work hard so that subscribers do not have to, that is what they pay the big bucks for ( 7 euros for the Friday-Sunday previews !!!!!!). Give yourself a Spring treat.
Europa League: (Written February 14th)
The last ten runnings of the Europa League/ UEFA Cup
have seen seven winners from the Iberian Peninsula, five Spanish
winners and two Portugese, they also supplied four losing finalists
between them and all four semi finalists last year, the other three
winners came from Eastern Europe, with two Russian winners and one from
The Eastern teams are at a disadvantage early, coming
off their winter break, but once we are in mid/late March, the pendulum
swings the other way and they are fresher and at their peak, when others
are beginning to tire.
This says as much about how these
countries view the competition than anything else, they always show it
respect and want to do well. Italian teams have a terrible record and
since it was renamed the Europa League, only one has got past the Round
of 32 and they lost in the Round of 16.
There are three Serie A teams left in the competition, Lazio, Napoli and Inter,
but all have other major objectives for the season and I would offer a
word of caution about all of them, not to say that they cannot win/
progress, just that I doubt that they are overly bothered.
The final is in Amsterdam this year and we can expect Ajax to be very motivated, but they might well have to see off Chelsea in the round of 16..
Atletico Madrid and Levante are
the only two Spanish teams remaining and are drawn to face each other
in the Round of 16, Atletico are looking to win for the third time in
four years and given their league position, 12 points behind Barcelona
and 11 clear of the fourth placed team, they already look assured of a
Champions League spot for next season and I see no reason why they will
not again be fully focused and this looks a decent draw for them, they
have to be favourites IMO and 8.0 is a perfectly fair price, although a
little skinny for my liking in a 32 runner race.
Despite facing a difficult tie with Bayer Leverkusen and going toe to toe with Porto for the domestic title, Benfica keep catching my eye at 29.0 in the outright market, they would play either Dynamo Kiev or Bordeaux
next and I would favour them to beat either. They are unbeaten
domestically, 14-4-0 and were a little hard done by in the Champions
League. They look committed to this and all the big guns have travelled
and they do have some very impressive weapons ....
Artur Moraes, Paulo Lopes ,Bruno Varela, Melgarejo, Maxi Pereira,
Luisinho, Luisão, Garay, Roderick Miranda , Jardel , André Almeida, Ola
John, Enzo Perez, Salvio, Matic, Nicolás Gaitán, Urreta , André Gomes,
Rodrigo, Lima, Cardozo.
They can field a starting eleven full of
internationals and have a very nice mixture of experience and exciting
young talent. Garay, Perez and Gaitan were all in the Argentine squad
for the recent friendly in Stockholm, Salvio was in the squad for the
previous international and is the youngest of the quartet. They have the
class to go deep in this if they wish and the squad they have taken to
Germany looks a statement of intent.
Leverkusen host Augsburg on
Saturday afternoon, what is it with the Bundesliga ? Give them an extra
day for goodness sake ! They are going to make some rotation between the
two games of course, boss Sami Hyypiä admitted that and also that "a
couple of our players have slight problems", refusing to give fiurther
details. Almost four thousand visiting supporters have tickets for the
game, which will make for a very good atmosphere, if pushed, I like the
visitors with the handicap start, but must admit that +0.25 ball at sub
2.0 is not my favourite quote and if we are taking the outright anyway, I
am happy to stick with that. 1 unit Benfica to win Europa League outright 26.0 + , there is bigger in a place or two.