Barcelona heavily favoured to beat Atlético in the Champions League

Will Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi make the difference at the Camp Nou?

Will Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi make the difference at the Camp Nou?

While the Manchester United v Bayern Munich Champions League Quarter Final clash will attract plenty of attention as the transitional Premier League side take on the all conquering Bundesliga champions at Old Trafford this evening, the all La Primera Liga  Barcelona v Atlético Madrid clash at the Camp Nou is going to be the more intriguing clash of the night.

These two teams have already faced each other on three occasions this season and all three matches were draws. The 1-1 draw at the Estadio Vincente Calderón in the Super Cup was followed by a 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou so it was Barcelona who claimed that particular trophy on away goals. Their first meeting in the league was also at the home of Atlético and that saw no goals between the two teams, yet despite the lack of goals and ability for either side to claim a winner the bookmakers clearly see Barcelona claiming the advantage in front of their own fans in this Champions League Quarter Final.

Barcelona v Atlético Madrid Odds:

Barcelona – 1.51

Draw – 4.00

Atlético – 6.40

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

Although they managed to draw with AC Milan and lose to Ajax in the Champions League this season, Barcelona have managed to win each of their home games so far scoring 15 goals and conceding just three in their four matches so far. In fact their overall home form at the Camp Nou, even when they were slipping up on the road, has been outstanding. Since drawing 0-0 with their opponents in this Champions League match at the end of August they have won 21 out 22 matches in front of their fans, losing only to Valencia.

This makes Atlético just one of two sides to avoid defeat at Barcelona this season and with them having the psychological advantage of leading them in the La Primera Liga title race this season they will fancy their chances in this first leg Quarter Final. Atlético, along with their city rivals Real Madrid, are unbeaten in the Champions League this season having won five of their six group matches, as well as drawing with Zenit St Petersburg in Russia, before booking their place in this last eight stage game by doing what Barcelona failed to do in beating AC Milan as they followed up a 1-0 win at the San Siro with a 4-1 thumping on home soil.

Can either of these sides actually win this match following three straight draws? If either side is to do so I feel that Barcelona’s experience at this stage of the competition will be a massive advantage, as will the scoring ability of Lionel Messi. The Argentine striker has eight in this competition so far, but Atlético have their own star striker this season in the Brazilian born Diego Costa. He has played 75 minutes fewer than Messi, but has just one fewer goal and with 25 goals in the league, he has bagged two more than Messi in that competition.

Will there be goals from these two star strikers? Will there be a winner? The two sides have cancelled each other out all three times already this season and I feel that this match will be another close one. As a result of this, I am backing Atlético to get something from this match to bring to the Estadio Vincente Calderón for the second leg.

Back Atlético/Draw Double Chance in this Champions League Quarter Final match against Barcelona @ 2.58 with GR88.com.

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

Champions League Quarter-Finals – Everything Still to Play For

Can Edinson Cavani help Paris Saint-Germain improve on last year's quarter-final exit?

Can Edinson Cavani help Paris Saint-Germain improve on last year’s quarter-final exit?

 

It’s taken far too long to get to this point. The thing about giving everyone a chance at winning something is that it takes a while to narrow the field down to the real contenders – you think it’s bad now, just wait until Michel Platini properly loses it and we’re left with a 48-nation Euro 2024.

There’s a lot of mucking around until anything serious happens in the Champions League, but after a few months of trips to previously unheard-of cities with impossible names, we’re finally left with eight teams. Seven of them can win the competition, and the other is Manchester United.

 

Champions League – Outright Winner Betting Odds:

Bayern Munich – 2.52

Real Madrid – 3.85

FC Barcelona – 4.40

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

The good news for United is that they’re playing at home. The bad news is that it’s not 2009. The good news is that they’re playing at home in the Champions League, which they seem to like doing. The bad news is that they’re playing at home in the Champions League against Bayern Munich, so let’s give up.

I’m not sure how much I really need to tell you about this one – Bayern haven’t lost since December last year, and are up against a United side that most agree is the weakest still in the competition. David Moyes desperately needs his team to extract the digit and give him a hope of making it through the summer. “I suppose we will be underdogs in the draw,” he said following United’s 3-0 win over Olympiakos, “but I genuinely believe this club is capable of winning it,” but he doesn’t genuinely believe that, because it’s genuinely wrong.

With so much disbelief surrounding Manchester United’s current position, Bayern Munich come to Old Trafford offering the kind of reality check that you just can’t get from an unreal home loss to West Brom. And to think – if United had really chased Pep Guardiola back when he was there for the chasing, David Moyes would still be a respected manager.

 

Barcelona v Atlético Madrid Betting Odds:

Barcelona win – 1.50

Atlético win – 6.25

Draw – 4.25

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

Elsewhere, Barcelona play Atlético Madrid in a match that they should win because they’re Barcelona, but won’t necessarily win because Atlético Madrid are top of La Liga, and things are seemingly different now in Spain. Atlético haven’t won at the Camp Nou since Fernando Torres was scoring goals, but bring an in-form Spanish-Brazilian Chelsea-bound Diego Costa to Barcelona – he has scored six goals in his last five games.

Barcelona, meanwhile, have Lionel Messi, a good record against Atletico Madrid, and far more experience at this stage of the Champions League, which probably counts for something. They’re apparently in crisis, but given that they’re second in the league and favourites in a European quarter final, it’s the kind of crisis we’d all like to have.

 

Paris Saint-Germain v Chelsea

Elsewhere again, PSG, or Paris Saint Germain if I’m trying to reach a word count, take on Chelsea in a match that requires more serious analysis than I’m capable of, so I asked my Chelsea-supporting friend, Michael, for help. Michael says, “Chelsea will park the bus and if PSG are good enough, they will win. Chelsea are hard to score against but without Matić in midfield it will be easier for PSG.”

Look at how clever he is there. Michael is employing a classic Jose Mourinho strategy, condemning his side to defeat before it’s even happened so as to cover himself if they lose, while leaving it open for him to claim a heroic victory if they win. Chelsea are fresh from a loss away to Crystal Palace – a real skills festival in reverse – and PSG have Zlatan Ibrahimović. Michael doesn’t always walk his talk, but he’s probably right this time.

Betting Instinct tip – Paris Saint-Germain to emulate Crystal Palace with a 1-0 win is 5.90 with GR88.com

 

Real Madrid v Borussia Dortmund

Finally, Dortmund (or Ballspielverein Borussia 09 e.V. Dortmund if you’re cultured and drink wine and read books and speak languages), 23 points off the top of the Bundesliga and relatively unremarkable in the group stage will be the team to roll over for Real Madrid this week.

Ok, so copying, pasting and updating the same Real Madrid paragraph as last time might be cheating in some eyes, but it’s also a real time-saver, because Dortmund simply aren’t the same team that beat Madrid 4-1 in the semis of last season’s competition. In fact, they’re probably a bit more like the team that lost to Madrid 2-0 in the semis of last season’s competition, in the reverse leg of the same tie. Dortmund keep haemorrhaging players to Bayern Munich, and Madrid keep getting faster, stronger, and sometimes better –  while it wouldn’t be outrageous for the Germans to go through over two legs, it would be a surprise for them to win at the Bernabeu.

Betting Instinct tip – Another 2-0 win for Real is 6.50 with Intertops.eu

 

Max avatar MAX GRIEVE (maxjgri) is Australian, but keep reading. He likes football, rugby union and tennis, though has  given up on his dream of being a tri-sport athlete/exciting millionaire. He supports Liverpool, and is  ashamed for doing so.

Juventus or Napoli to win their Serie A top three clash this weekend?

Fernando Llorente celebrates opening the scoring in Juventus' 3-0 home win over Napoli earlier this season

Fernando Llorente celebrates opening the scoring in Juventus’ 3-0 home win over Napoli earlier this season

The biggest game happening in Italy this weekend is the clash of the sides sitting in first and third places in Serie A as Juventus look to continue their march towards their third successive top division title and Napoli wish to close the gap on Roma in second place, and the final automatic Champions League spot.

Napoli have lost just twice at the Stadio San Paolo all season in domestic football, while Juventus have been defeated just once on the road so I’m expecting this to be a close match between two good sides. GR88.com agree with this assessment of the game and they too are backing a tight game between the teams this Sunday evening.

Napoli v Juventus Odds:

Napoli – 2.74

Draw – 3.10

Juventus – 2.46

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

It will be a stretch for Napoli to catch Roma in second place in the league as they are six points behind them at this time having played an extra match. They had actually recently looked like catching them after an 81st minute Callejón winner at the Stadio San Paolo at the start of March but, after following that up with a 1-0 win at Torino, they threw away all their good work by losing 1-0 at home to Fiorentina. That loss was their second home defeat of the season in the league and while they have not lost too many at home in Serie A they have been massively inconsistent since November in front of their own fans. This has cost them as they have tried to move up to second place as they have lost two and drawn three of their last nine at home, while never recording the same result two games in a row.

Juventus will be confident about breaking that pattern for Napoli as they eased past them in November on home soil as they scored in the second, 74th and 80th minutes before seeing Angelo Ogbonna red carded seven minutes from time as they cruised to a 3-0 win. They also bring into this match a two month and 14 match unbeaten run that has seen them win each of their last four matches, including winning all of their last five games on the road without conceding a single goal. Confidence will be sky high for the league leaders, now can they all but assure a third straight title by ensuring their lead at the top of the table stays at least 14 points?

Juventus do not have the best of records away at Napoli following an eight match and 14 year winless streak that has seen Napoli win half of those games, drawing the other four. The last two meetings at the Stadio San Paolo have seen draws, but with Napoli being massively inconsistent at home over the last few months and having scored just two goals in their last three on home soil I cannot see them managing to get anything against the best side in the league this weekend. The fact that Juventus are available at better than evens odds makes them even more tempting too.

Back Juventus to beat Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo @ 2.46 with GR88.com.

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

How can Manchester United stop Bayern Munich?

Will Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer even need to make a save?

Will Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer even need to make a save?

Next week the Champions League returns for the quarter-final stage, and for many the stand-out tie sees Manchester United host Bayern Munich at Old Trafford.

 

Manchester United v Bayern Munich Betting Odds

Manchester United win – 6.60

Bayern Munich – 1.45

Draw – 4.40

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

The meeting gives Bayern an opportunity to gain revenge for their defeat in the 1999 final by knocking out United at this stage of the competition for the second time in five years. And you wouldn’t rule out a victory more comprehensive than the away goals triumph in 2010.

 

On paper it is something of a mismatch. Bayern are the favourites for the tournament while United are the outsiders, and the German side have already wrapped up the Bundesliga title with 25 wins from their 27 league games.

In contrast, last Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat at home to rivals Manchester City was United’s 10th in 31 Premier League games and their sixth at Old Trafford. So how can they find a way past their all-conquering opponents.

 

Blindfold Manuel Neuer

The Bayern goalkeeper is known for his excellent instincts and awareness, often coming off his line to good effect to deny opponents, and this has been reflected in Bayern’s goals against column where the 13 conceded translates to less than one goal every two games.

Still, even that might not be enough. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that Bayern went on a six-game run where they conceded so few shots on target that they would have won all six without a goalkeeper. So, on to plan B…

 

Spin Philipp Lahm around in circles for a while

You don’t need triangles to demonstrate the effectiveness of Philipp Lahm this season. The club captain has been moved from right-back to central midfield, where he has acted as a metronome, conducting play and making the team tick.

How do you deal with that kind of majesty? Get two of your players to stand either side of the German and spin him around quickly for a few minutes, just enough to disorientate him. His influence will be diminished, and it lets you find a use for Tom Cleverley. And, of course, the circle is the geometric enemy of the triangle.

 

Sneak some extra players onto the pitch

Before Fabio was shipped off to Cardiff in January, there was a running joke that his presence at the club allowed United to keep playing identical twin Rafael even when the better of the two brothers was suspended. The Ol’ Switcheroo, as it is known in some circles.

If it worked once before there’s no reason why it can’t work again, and with Bayern’s superb ball retention it will probably still look like Pep Guardiola’s side are the ones with an extra player. Of course, Alex Büttner will still be playing at left-back so this might end up making no difference whatsoever.

 

So, to conclude, there seems to be little that United can do, save for praying to Superman. It really does look less like a case of ‘will Bayern win?’ and more one of ‘how many will they score?’

 

Betting Instinct Tip – Bayern Munich to win and score three or more goals is 3.68 with GR88.com

 

 

 TOM VICTOR (editor) tv is the editor and co-founder of Betting Instinct. He has written for a variety of  sports sites in the past, including JustFootball, Footy Matters and BeNeFoot.

Can Liverpool see off a second Tottenham manager?

 

Raheem Sterling was among the goals as Liverpool beat Tottenham 5-0 in December

Raheem Sterling was among the goals as Liverpool beat Tottenham 5-0 in December

How times can change – for some – in the Premier League.

 

Without a doubt, this has been the most enthralling season in recent years and that doesn’t look set to change any time soon. Liverpool have already won 4 more games than in the whole previous league campaign and are – and please, leave your pants on for this one Liverpool fans – genuinely in with a chance of winning the league.

Tottenham on the other hand, are very much in a similar position to how they ended up last season. They currently sit in 6th, a solitary point being the 5th position they found themselves in last year, albeit with 5th place Everton having a game in hand over them.

 

Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur Betting Odds:

Liverpool win – 1.45

Tottenham win – 6.40

Draw – 4.40

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

After their promising finish last year, breaking their record points tally for a single Premier League campaign Spurs have struggled to consistently look like real contenders for the top four. While a change in management has brought in a more attack minded brand of football, the results and league position haven’t really altered all that much.

Much was expected of Spurs after they spent a lot of money on new recruits over the summer, but – other than brief flashes – the new arrivals haven’t really hit the ground running. Roberto Soldado has probably drawn the most attention for this, the £26M signing having only scored 6 league goals with the majority of these goals coming from the penalty spot. However midfielder Christian Eriksen has looked a tidy player with some great technical ability, and Spurs will be hoping he can show some more of that promise against Liverpool – a club he was linked with earlier in his career – this coming Sunday.

With the arrival of new manager Tim Sherwood, Emmanuel Adebayor has had one of those spells which makes you wonder why he couldn’t produce the same form over the previous 18 months. When he is in the right frame of mind, Adebayor is absolutely unplayable and Liverpool’s defence has struggled to deal with physicality in recent years. Spurs are likely to pack out the midfield with 5 men in an effort to combat Liverpool’s energetic midfield, while still keeping the back-line busy with Adebayor’s strength and pace. Spurs haven’t beaten any of the current top four in the league this year and have lost three of their last five games.

They were embarrassed by Liverpool at White Hart Lane in a 5-0 hammering which brought about Andre Villas-Boas’ exit, and another defeat of a similar magnitude will hardly help Sherwood as he tries to make his case for being given the managerial position on a full-time basis. Still, Spurs may take heart from the fact that no team has more league away wins than the London club this campaign.

 

Liverpool, meanwhile, have improved dramatically this season under Brendan Rodgers. After limping to 7th place last year, they look an entirely new team, suggeting last season’s squad needed time to gel. Whilst some defensive frailties remain, they’ve now looked comfortable against the best teams in the league whilst also starting to exert more control over those towards the bottom of the table.

They’re in a great run of form at the moment – putting 6 past Cardiff and beating Manchester United at Old Trafford – so will be full of confidence, especially considering how easily they brushed Spurs aside in December. Liverpool’s success this year has come from several places: the obvious attacking threat of the front 3 (Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez being the two highest scorers in the league thus far), the emergence of Jordan Henderson’s and Steven Gerrard’s understanding in the middle of the park, and Rodgers’ tactical nous.

 

They haven’t made many changes to the system as the season has continued, sticking with a successful formula that is as entertaining as it is effective.   If Spurs play with the same high line they did in the reverse fixture – something AVB saw as an ostensibly useful system – they will no doubt suffer another defeat. I’d expect Raheem Sterling to play in anticipation of this, though Liverpool have plenty of other options in midfield, and the passing range of Philippe Coutinho could also be put to good use.

All things considered, I think Liverpool will get the win they need to keep pace with Chelsea at the top of the table. Tottenham have enough technical ability in their locker but they are conceding too many goals and don’t have two prolific forwards like Liverpool do. My prediction is a 3-1 Liverpool win, with Adebayor scoring a goal for Spurs after bench-pressing Martin Skrtel.

 

Betting Instinct Tip Liverpool to win 3-1 is 9.60 with GR88.com. Odds on Adebayor bench-pressing Skrtel are unavailable at the time of writing.

 

 JAKE COLLINS (jcollins91) is passionate about literature, music and sports. He currently works in  London and lives in Essex. Read more of his work in Jake’s blog.

Miami Heat v Indiana Pacers: Crunch Time in the NBA brings more questions than answers.

The fitness of Dwyane Wade could be crucial in determining top spot in the East

The fitness of Dwyane Wade could be crucial in determining top spot in the East

It’s the time of year in the NBA again – there are as many NBA GMs watching March Madness and scouting  and salivating as there are sweating over Playoff position. It’s been a season ridden with injury, tanking and teams running hot and cold but here we are, the final stretch as some tantalising West match-ups are taking shape and everyone is cursing the fact that the Suns and the T-Wolves aren’t Eastern conference teams. In spite of many of the lesser teams trying to out-suck each other, some fascinating storylines have emerged and many will be on show on March 26th with a great set of games, led by one in particular…

 

Miami Heat v Indiana Pacers Betting Odds:

Heat win +125

Pacers win -145

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

These are two teams who are coasting. People may not like this phrase but it’s the truth. As of time of writing the Pacers are 5-5 last 10 and the Heat are 4-6. The Heat remain 3 games behind the Pacers and it seems reasonable to say this game is a must win if the Heat want to grab the top seed.

Both teams have question marks over their heads – we’ll start with the reigning champs. The first problem is their starting 5. Mr Reliable Shane Battier hasn’t been all that reliable, shooting 33% from 3 and struggling on defence on occasion. Those are two pretty big problems for a 3 and D specialist. Coach Spoelstra has responded by declaring Greg  Oden will start at centre for the team from now on. It’s an interesting move – Oden won’t play any more than 10minutes even if he is starting but he remains an interesting X-Factor.

 

Perhaps the bigger impact on the Heat is how it affects LeBron. Last year, the self-proclaimed King played most of his minutes as a power forward in spite of being listed as a small forward. This was feasible because Battier could guard quicker players, one of the most under-rated defenders in the league and the master of taking the charge. With Battier struggling, it will be interesting to see if his minutes are cut and if so, what do the Heat do with LeBron?

One situation to watch is Dwyane Wade. LeBron is incredible, he’s possibly the second best basketball player ever depending on who you ask. He will not win the title without Wade, even with the massively under-rated Chris Bosh. Wade has looked very nice when he has played but concern is still growing. Will he be able to handle such intensive series over such short spells?

 

The Heat certainly have issues but in happier news, Ray Allen appears to be leaving his slump. It was a big concern for the Heat. Two of their major issues are the trouble with great offensive rebounding teams and the lack of shooters and with Battier cold, Allen’s 35% from deep was a major concern. However, since the ASG, Allen has found his touch, shooting a much more impressive 41%. A man of RayRay’s talents has to be in that ballpark as he was last year.

There’s a tendency to ignore the Heat struggling because we know how good they are, but there are one or two little doubts creeping in. The push for a Threepeat will be brutal. The minutes will take their toll (are they already?). There’s a reason only an Mikan led Lakers in a diluted league, Russell’s Celtics, MJ’s Bulls (twice) and the Shaq and Kobe Lakers are the only teams to do it – it’s really hard. But this is a team capable of it, and in spite of the questions, if it was my money to put on the Champions this year, it’d be on this Heat team or the Spurs.

 

The Pacers, meanwhile, came out crushing every team in their path. They’ve been excellent this year, but much like the Heat there are nagging questions. The problem for the Pacers is that they don’t have the last two titles to fall back on as an excuse.

This Pacers team is built on defense. In most positions they have an above average defender, they have toughness and they have a centre allowing a shade over 41% at the rim. They lead the league in Defensive Rating, which means the concerns come on the other side of the court.

 

The general rule of thumb for contenders is that the team should be in the top 8 or 9 in both Offense and Defence. Three teams fall in these parameters – the Spurs, the Thunder and the Clippers. Notable by their absence are the Heat and the Pacers. The difference is, as previously mentioned, we know that the Heat can turn on their defence when it matters (their offense leads the league). The Pacers’ offense is a bigger question.

Paul George has been tremendous this year, improving on both sides of the ball. Earlier in the season, he was playing great basketball – making 48% from the field and 41% from deep. He put up 28PPG in October. However, since the All Star Game, George is shooting under 42% from the field and in March, he has made under 30% of his 3s. His PPG have fallen to a hair over 20.

 

The Pacers made their move on trade deadline trying to acquire another scorer but Evan Turner has thus far failed to pan out. Seen as a Jamal Crawford / Nick Young offensive spark, he has averaged under 9 points (not awful given the minutes he plays but more concerning when his usage rate is taken into account). The Pacers don’t need to be the Clippers and score 110 a night, they are a far superior defensive team but their offense needs to be better than it is. They rolled past two good teams in the Hawks and Knicks last year and held the Heat below 95 points per game in their series. But their offence let them down again against the Heat. Having a go-to scorer is essential and that is where my doubts lie. Make no mistake about it, this Pacers team will not be easy to beat. They will give the Heat a hell of a series should they meet but the smart money goes with the Heat.

 

Wednesday’s match-up will be easier to call when the health of Wade is known. For now, smart money goes to a tight spread. These games rarely have more than 3-8 points between them due to the defence played and I can see Coach Spoelstra experimenting with his line-ups as usual in the regular season before rotations tighten. My tip would be Pacers with the aforementioned tight spread.

 

Betting Instinct Tip – Pacers -2.5 is -110 with AllYouBet.ag

 

 DIARMAID HILL (@dhillmu7) is a basketball and football fan who plays both even worse than he writes about  them. He supports the LA Clippers and Manchester United and yes, he’s heard every joke about both. Follow  him on Twitter @DiarmaidHill

Can Arsenal bounce back from the Chelsea loss at home to Swansea tonight?

Arsenal were despondent after losing 6-0 to Chelsea at the weekend, but can they bounce back tonight?

Arsenal were despondent after losing 6-0 to Chelsea at the weekend, but can they bounce back tonight?

Well, Arsene Wenger’s one thousandth match in charge of Arsenal football club could not have gone any worse if he’d have planned it meticulously himself as they two goals down after seven minutes and a man down after 15 after Kieran Gibbs was red carded for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s handball in the penalty. All in all it was shambles from start to finish, now they face a much easier game tonight as they are at home and are facing a side with less half the points they have collected.

Arsenal v Swansea Match Odds:

Arsenal to win – 1.53

Draw – 3.90

Swansea to win – 6.00

(All first leg odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

Unlike that horrific away performance at the weekend, Arsenal’s form at The Emirates Stadium is impressive as they have recorded just a single defeat in 16 matches being dumped out of the Capital One Cup by Chelsea in October. The only team to win in this particular corner of North London since is the European and World champions Bayern Munich and are Swansea equal to the task of competing at that level? Especially as Bayern needed a red card for Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny in order to make the breakthrough.

The answer is a massive no as Swansea are in shocking form right now with no win in eight matches and just one win since January. Their last away win came at relegation threatened Championship side Birmingham City in the FA Cup and they have lost five of the last six away games since then, while their last away win in the Premier League came against bottom of the league Fulham in November, ten away games ago.

In addition to this shockingly bad Swansea form, Arsenal also have won each of the last three meetings with Swansea and are unbeaten in four. However, the last match that Swansea won against Arsenal was the last Premier League clash at The Emirates last season as Michu scored twice in the last two minutes for Swansea to claim all three points. This season, however, the Spaniard has scored just two goals all season and this lack of goals in a symptom of their season that sees them just three places and four points above the drop zone. As such, I see a comfortable victory for Arsenal this evening in front of their own fans.

Back Arsenal to beat Swansea by at least two goals (Arsenal -1) @ 1.97 with GR88.com. 

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

The Best of March Madness

Many a great basketball career has started at college, and few are greater than former UNC alum Michael Jordan

Many a great basketball career has started at college, and few are greater than former UNC alum Michael Jordan

As March Madness enters its second week, Jamie Cutteridge explains what all the fuss is about by looking at five of the greatest moments in the history of the NCAA tournament.

 

If you’ve been on the internet, near the internet, next door to the internet or in the same postcode as the internet in the last week, you’ve probably heard of March Madness. The NCAA tournament is a joyous treat in the often dull month of March. The 64 best teams in college basketball play a straight knockout tournament over three weeks as the future stars of the NBA take on (and often lose to) players who will never see anything like this attention again. Underdogs, drama and wall-to-wall sport. Utterly perfect. As we near the final stages, Betting Instinct brings you five of the best moments in March Madness history to get you pumped for this week’s action.

 

NCAA Championship Betting Odds:

Florida +350

Louisville +450

Michigan State +450

Arizona +550

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

1982: Jordan wins it late at the start of his journey to greatness.

Picking a best Michael Jordan is impossible. The Flu game, ‘The shot’ against Cleveland in 1989, his final shot to beat Utah in 98, the threes and the shrug against Portland in 1992. He’s the greatest basketball player of all time, and possibly the biggest sporting icon since Adam beat Eve at an egg and spoon race. In his freshman year in college, he scored the winning basket with his team down by one point to beat Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown. Just sit back and enjoy some classic MJ.

 

 

 

1983: NC State shock America

In one of the biggest shocks in American sporting history, unfancied North Carolina State, led by legendary coach ‘Jimmy V’ upset massive favourites Houston to take the title. The Houston team contained future NBA hall of famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, but couldn’t get it done as Lorenzo Charles dunked Dereck Whittenburg’s air-ball to win the game as time as time expired to send his coach into a state of delirium.

 

 

 

1985: Villanova ruin Ewing’s big day. Again

Patrick Ewing’s lack of success is so notable he’s got a theory named after him. After losing out to Jordan in ’82, Ewing and Georgetown  did win the title in 1984, and seemed destined to repeat in 1985 as the heavy pre-tournament favourites reached the big dance to play eight-seeded Villanova. However no-one counted on the Wildcats shooting a quite frankly ludicrous  78.6% to beat Ewing in his college swansong.

 

 

1992: THE SHOT

They call it the shot. They should call it the pass. The eventual champions and number one seeds Duke met Kentucky in an unforgettable regional final that was settled in overtime. Kentucky scored with 2.1 seconds to go to take a one point lead and it looked like the top seeds were on the way out. But then Grant Hill made an unreal pass, Christian Laettner got the ball and… oh just watch it.

 

 

 

 

1993: The Timeout

The 1993 Michigan Wolverines were the greatest college team of all time. ‘The Fab Five’ as they were known contained Jimmy King,  Ray Jackson, Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose and Chris Webber. They took on fellow number one seeds North Carolina in 1993’s title game and trailed by two as Chris Webber brought the ball up court with fifteen second remaining. Webber got trapped in the corner and called a timeout, except Michigan didn’t have any left. A technical foul was called, NC got two free throws and the ball, and won the title.  A horrendous blunder that has overshadowed the rest of Webber’s brilliant career.

 

 

 

That’s just a taste of the drama and magic that March Madness involves. The fun continues from Thursday through to Sunday this week as the sweet sixteen are whittled down the final four. My tips to make the final have been Florida and Louisiana from the start, and they’re still going strong, just. But if you’re looking for value, don’t sleep on eleventh seeded Tennessee in the Midwest region. But no matter who plays, don’t miss out on some magical March madness.

 

Betting Instinct Tip: Tennessee to win the Midwest region is +550 with Intertops.eu

 

Jamie avatar JAMIE CUTTERIDGE (jamiecutteridge) is a journalist for a real magazine, but spends an inordinate  amount of time writing about NFL. He’s the editor-in-chief of anygivensundaynight.co.uk and its associated  twitter feed @UKNFL

Tipday – your free introduction to sports betting

Make tips on your favourite sports to earn leaderboard points

Make tips on your favourite sports to earn leaderboard points

 

Have you wanted to try your hand at sportsbetting without risking a single penny? You can now do just that with Tipday.com, and give yourself a chance of winning Premier League tickets at the same time.

 

Tipday is a free sports tipping site that lets you make tips on a variety of sports and leagues for free, including English Premier League football and NBA basketball. You can score points based on the real odds that bookmakers are offering, to see how much you would win if you bet with your own money.

What’s more, Tipday allows you to follow other tipsters, and all tips are recorded so you can see who is the most successful for each sport. You can compare your results to those of your mates, to see who knows the most about your favourite sport.

 

There are real-life prizes on offer for climbing to the top of leaderboards, while the most-shared betslips on Facebook and Twitter will earn two lucky Tipday users a pair of tickets to a Premier League football match.

Once you’ve learned the ropes, Tipday provides everything you need to make the leap to betting for real money. It promotes some of the best odds from a variety of different bookmakers, and helps you get set up with a real-money account once you’re ready to make the step up.

 

For more information, and to check out the most successful tipsters so far, head over to Tipday.com now.

 

tv TOM VICTOR (editor)  is the editor and co-founder of Betting Instinct. He has written for a variety of  sports sites in the past, including JustFootball, Footy Matters and BeNeFoot.

Manchester United vs. Manchester City: United doomed as Rooney lob comes too early

Should Rooney have held a bit back at the weekend?

Should Rooney have held a bit back at the weekend?

David Moyes may have enjoyed watching his team win by routine against West Ham, but in truth it was a Pyrrhic victory for the visitors at Upton Park. Now Manchester United must somehow rally to face Manchester City in midweek, burdened by the knowledge that their last remaining hope has been extinguished by the lustful boot of Wayne Rooney.

What a goal his opener at the weekend was: a thwacked, searching goblet of an artillery round that looped over the scrambling Adrián’s head and into the goal. It was so good, Steve Bruce had to call a break mid-press conference to indulge himself in its execution.

Yet though it may well go down as a strike for the ages, it arrived three days earlier than expected, like a missed delivery to a house you haven’t quite moved into yet, or a cavalry charge through the wrong battlefield before the right war has been able to break out.

Manchester United v Manchester City Betting Odds:

Manchester United win – 3.15

Manchester City win – 2.10

Draw – 3.30

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

And now Rooney’s energies are spent; his special move wasted on a relatively meaningless fixture, leaving nothing left in the tank for taking into the City game. I mean, did you really think that shinned, upside down bicycle kick goal from a couple of years back was merely the product of good fortune, timing and a bit of creativity? Of course not.

Ryan Giggs, misunderstood by the football press to be sulking and scheming behind Moyes’ back, has actually been spending the last few weeks hidden away in a Carrington backroom, using his tantric yoga abilities to build up a reservoir of karma to fuel another derby day weapon for Wayne.

Unfortunately, just as when faced with the temptations of unattended, high-calorie pastry products, and red-lit establishments catering to a more mature demographic, Rooney’s lack of self-control saw that potential match-winner go off in his right sock as Big Sam & Co. looked on bemused. Now United will have to resort to trying to best their crosstown rivals at football, which will only end one way: defeat.

After all, City have now assimilated the Moyesian United model and bested it in every category. They have the better quality manager with spooky eyes and a haunted face, a fancy new way of spelling and saying “United” (Etihad), a more evil and successful brand of distant, foreign owner, and a slightly greater meaningless trophy win this year (Not sure the Community Shield even counts as a trophy – ed.). They’re also quite good at scoring goals and generally being more than just one-dimensional when going forward.

Without his supply of mojo, Rooney will be reduced to running around and playing well for his team, which we all know is an anathema to his best work in such high profile fixtures. There’s little chance that he will trudge about the field all sullen for 80 minutes before fluking the goal of the season, as the script requires during these encounters. No one ever won a derby, cup final or title decider with the necessary dramatic clout by being really good and consistent, and even if they did, who would want to watch that?

So, United fans, sadly it all looks to be over for the foreseeable. Rooney spurted away his load a stroke too early while well out of range of Manuel Pellegrini’s men, leaving his teammates high and dry, and ready for a beating. City can now travel to Old Trafford without fear of an unlikely bombshell cascading down from on high via the laces of the home side’s star forward.

Not even the planned blood sacrifice of Tom Cleverley to the old gods can help them now, though as a form of half-time entertainment that wouldn’t go amiss.

Betting Instinct Tip – City’s Yaya Touré is in fine goalscoring form after netting a hat-trick at the weekend, and Touré is 4.80 to score first in tomorrow’s derby with GR88.com

 

Greg avatarGREG JOHNSON (gregianjohnson) is a freelance football writer based in London and contributor to FourFourTwo, Squawka, Drowned In Sound and Mirror Football. He also co-edits The False Nine football blog and podcast.