Spurs set to solve the Thunder!

Who will win the NBA Western Conference?

Manu Ginobli and the Spurs are confident of a second straight NBA Finals appearance.

For the second time in three years it is the Spurs and the Thunder battling it out for the NBA’s Western Conference crown. The series gets underway on Monday when the number one seeds host the Conference’s number two team at San Antonio’s AT&T Center. The regular season saw coach Gregg Popovich’s Texans pick up three more wins than their rivals, but it was MVP Kevin Durant and co. who owned the direct duels. OKC won all four matchups this season so far and so there will be no lack of confidence in the visiting team ahead of Game 1.

Bad news for the Thunder, however, is the injury to power forward Serge Ibaka which has ended his season just when it matters most. Ibaka, who played more minutes than any other teammate other than Durant of course, will be a hard act to follow. OKC coach Scott Brooks has several alternatives, including moving Durant to power forward, but Ibaka’s absence is likely have a major effect of his team’s rhythm.

San Antonio’s veterans, however, once again showed their real class by overawing a talented Portland team in the last round. The likes of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli and Tim Duncan have seen it all many times before and know just what is required when the season heads down the home stretch. This experience, coupled with Ibaka’s injury, should be enough to see them turn the tables on their foe and progress to the NBA Finals for the second straight year.

To Win The Western Conference Series, odds

San Antonio Spurs              1.45
Oklahoma City Thunder    2.80

To Win Game 1, odds

San Antonio Spurs             1.43
Oklahoma City Thunder   2.95

Odds provided by http://www.allyoubet.ag are correct of today but subject to change.

CHRIS I. (tipsterchris) is a European sports blogger who’s hooked on football — both NFL American football and European football.  Chris discusses betting tips and trends and includes betting odds in his regular posts at BI.

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Dortmund or Bayern? Who’ll win the clash of the German titans in the DFB Pokal Final?

Dortmund celebrate Marco Reus' goal in the 3-0 win over Bayern in the league last month

Dortmund celebrate Marco Reus’ goal in the 3-0 win over Bayern in the league last month

The domestic season in Germany comes to a close this evening with the DFB Pokal final as Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich clash at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin in their second final meeting in a year. Their last clash in a final came a year ago at Wembley as Bayern Munich scored late to secure a 2-1 victory over Jurgen Klopp’s men to lift the Champions League trophy in celebration, now will they add the DFB Pokal trophy to their runaway Bundesliga victory tonight in Munich?

Dortmund v Bayern Betting Odds (Normal Time Only):

Borussia Dortmund – 3.20

Draw – 3.30

Bayern Munich – 1.99

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

Dortmund have had a great time of things in the DFB Pokal this season as they are yet to concede a goal in the competition as they have all but steamrolled everyone in their path en route to this evening’s final against their biggest rivals. Only a second round match against 1860 Munich saw them need extra time to progress, but they have built from the back and they’ll be desperate to get revenge, however small in comparison, for the Champions League final loss last season. They ended the season with seven wins and one draw in their last eight games, including beating Real Madrid 2-0 as they almost came back from a 3-0 first leg loss to send the Spaniards crashing out, and winning 3-0 at the Allianz Arena against Bayern. Can they extend their unbeaten run to nine tonight?

Bayern may have runaway with the league in Germany this season as they took the title in record time, but once they had nothing left to play for they lost their way a little. Their final 12 matches of the season saw four losses and two draws, including suffering defeats to Real Madrid in the semi finals of the Champions League. They have been hit and miss at the end of this season, but the quality is still there and a cup final is sure to bring it to the fore and they will want set down a marker for next season, but with them being so inconsistent it is difficult to be sure about which side we will see tonight.

The teams have already faced each other on three occasions this season and both teams have claimed 3-0 away wins, with Bayern winning at Dortmund in November and Dortmund repeating the feat a month ago. The other match saw them clash at the start of the season in the Super Cup as Bayern were ripped apart in a 4-2 defeat in Pep Guardiola’s first match. I feel that this match will have an end of season feel to it as both sides look to close out 2013/14 campaigns in style with some attacking football and with their being 12 goals in the three meetings already this season I can see goals this evening. If pushed, I feel that Dortmund will win this trophy tonight, but the value is to be had on goals at the Olympic Stadium.

Back there to be at least four goals on the Three Goals No Bet market in this DFB Pokal Final between Dortmund and Bayern tonight @ 1.91 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.

Will Atletico Madrid be the new Bayer Leverkusen?

Will Atletico Madrid get the draw they need at Camp Nou?

Can Atletico Madrid get the draw they need at Camp Nou?

Liverpool v Arsenal. Lewis Hamilton v Felipe Massa. Scott Pilgrim v Gideon. There’s nothing like a great winner-takes-all battle.

 

This weekend Atlético Madrid travel to Camp Nou to face Barcelona, knowing that their destiny is in their hands over the coming weeks. Less than 10-days from now they could be La Liga and European champions against all the odds. Alternatively they could be trophiless and poised to lose their most prized asset Diego Costa.

As Diego Simeone’s Rojiblancos prepare for the double-header against Barça and Real Madrid, parallels can be drawn with Klaus Toppmöller’s famous Bayer Leverkusen side of the 2001-02 season. At this stage in the campaign they were still on course for a potential treble – top of the Bundesliga and with domestic and European finals around the corner – but they lost it all.

 

Barcelona v Atlético Madrid Betting Odds:

Barcelona win – 1.79

Atlético win – 4.10

Draw – 3.50

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

 

The last decade and a half in German football has not quite been dominated by Bayern Munich, but when the Bavarian club have been at there best it has been tough for anyone to stop them. The likes of Stuttgart and Werder Bremen saw off an under-par Bayern during the 2000s, but only two sides have come close to stopping the 24-time champions: Jürgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund and Toppmöller’s Leverkusen.

Captained by Germany international Carsten Ramelow, Leverkusen would have five players in the Nationalmannschaft the World Cup and a further six (Yıldıray Baştürk, Frankie Hejduk, Lúcio, Diego Placente, Jurica Vranješ and Boris Živković) also involved in Japan and South Korea over the summer. Atlético are likely to have just one fewer going to Brazil this year, if you include on-loan goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

 

With four games remaining the title looked sewn up – a penalty from goalkeeper Hans-Jörg Butt set up a 2-0 win over local rivals 1. FC Köln, leaving them four points clear of second-placed Dortmund, and the following week the gap would extend to five. Two years prior an own goal from midfielder Michael Ballack in the final game had cost Leverkusen the title, but surely it couldn’t slip again, especially with Bayern out of the picture.

However a dramatic collapse, highlighted by defeats at home to Werder Bremen and away in Nürnberg, meant Dortmund could even afford to lose a game en route to stealing the title from Toppmöller’s men via a nervy final-day win. However all was not lost for the runners-up – they still had finals coming up in the DFB-Pokal and Champions League.

First came the domestic cup and a 4-2 defeat to Schalke, with a first-half goal from young striker Dimitar Berbatov being cancelled out by Jorg Böhme on the stroke of half-time before three second-half strikes ended the contest. However if Leverkusen were partly responsible for their own domestic failings, defeat on the European stage was hardly their fault. A majestic volley from Zinedine Zidane clinched a 2-1 victory for Real, handing the Spanish side their ninth European Cup, and they will continue to chase that elusive Decima this month against Atlético.

 

 

Like Leverkusen in 2002, if Simeone’s side are unable to clinch the title they will only have themselves to blame. They have been top since late March but have recently begun to slip with defeat to Levante and a draw at home to Málaga. A point will be enough to help them stumble over the line, but failure to do so may well impact upon the following weekend’s encounter with Real Madrid in Lisbon.

As with Leverkusen, there is danger of this Atlético side being dismantled after the season ends. They had already lost Falcao last summer but Diego Costa and David Villa have proved more than capable of filling the Colombian’s shoes. Whether they will be able to start again if Costa completes a mooted move to Chelsea this summer is the question on everyone’s lips.

Both Ballack and Zé Roberto moved to Bayern after the 2002 World Cup, while the next couple of years also saw talismanic striker Ulf Kirsten hang up his boots and Lúcio and Živković also depart. Similarly, Atléti may well lose out-of-contract midfielders Diego and Tiago this summer in addition to Costa.

 

While this is unlikely to be the end of the road for the individual members of the squad, 2014 could be Atlético Madrid’s last chance to break up the duopoly of Barcelona and Real Madrid. They have the ability, but can they pull out the performances when it really matters?

 

Betting Instinct tip – Diego Costa to sign off with the first goal in what could be his last La Liga appearance is 5.00 with GR88.com

 

GR88.com will refund selected losing pre-match bets in La Liga if the game in question ends goalless. Full terms and conditions can be found at http://www.gr88.com/promotions.

 

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. You can follow him  on Twitter or Google+.

Is Arsenal vs. Hull City the end of civilisation as we know it?

Can Arsenal win their first final at 'New Wembley'?

Can Arsenal win their first final at ‘New Wembley’?

The West Antarctic ice sheet is melting! Soon all will perish amid sea level rises too big for even Bruce Willis to stop, seemingly rendering the result of Arsenal’s crunch Community Shield qualifier against Hull City irrelevant on the grand scale of things.

This is of course false. Had the world paid more attention to football in the first place, none of this would have happened. Mankind’s greatest error was to put their faith in hockey stick graphs rather than transfer gossip columns about the landmark transfers of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, or something. Heat maps could have saved us all if only we’d listened.

Still, there is some hope that a few emaciated survivors may be able to scrape together an existence during the coming Armageddon out somehow. The FA Cup stands as a testament to humanity’s ability to cling on within a post-apocalyptic landscape.

 

Arsenal v Hull City Betting Odds:

Arsenal – 1.24 

Arsenal to win in 90 minutes – 1.44

Hull City – 4.00

Hull to win in 90 minutes – 6.80

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

 

Having once been the jewel of the English football calendar, cup final day has slipped into becoming a desperate struggle for recognition in the arid wastes between the Premier League finale and the Champions League final. Manchester United used to be the great Satan, who fatally undermined this institution with a transcontinental lust for silverware, but with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona’s La Liga decider currently threatening to steal away viewing figures, the problem seems bigger than a fixture clash.

Similar to the rules of the Thunderdome from Mad Max 3, at Wembley two teams will enter, but only one shall leave. In contrast to the movie’s blood sport however, it’s the loser that gets to walk away, with the victors instead set to be called back for a sound beating at the hands of Manchester City some August.

 

Even the supposed grand prize of a shot at the Europa League feels like a demoted consolation offering. Steve Bruce’s side have already been informed that they’ll be heading off to face the likes of FC Luch-Energiya Vladivostok (wow – turns out that’s actually a real team – ed.) whatever the result against Arsenal thanks to the Gunners’ Champions League qualification via the top four. In that respect, the FA Cup final is left looking more like a passing out ceremony for this season’s press ganged, sacrificial offering to UEFA’s secondary tier, rather than a prestigious bounty. A season scrabbling across Europe to take part in the competition formerly known as the UEFA Cup could even send Hull out of the Premier League next year. If you thought Cormac McCarthy’s The Road was a terrifying and depressing read, don’t spend to long mulling over the death by glory inflicted upon clubs forced into competitions they have neither the squad nor resources to properly fight.

Then again, while the heat death of the FA Cup may be stretching out the public’s attention spans and will-to-watch, as if expiring through the footballing entropy of the game’s own laws of thermodynamics, perhaps this year might be different?

 

For once, it’s not just the plucky minnows who are striving for an unlikely trophy win. Arsenal would do well to check that Patrick Vieira didn’t thrown down a Bela Guttmann-esque curse on the club  when he left in 2005. Arsene Wenger’s team haven’t won a proper pot or title since.

With their status as this year’s Liverpool, before Liverpool too—having let slip a commanding lead in the title race rather than a cataclysmic and very literal one for Demba Ba to shatter their dreams—the likes of Aaron Ramsey will be keen to ensure something tangible comes through from a season that promised so much However, Hull need only look back to Birmingham City’s League Cup win over the Gunners to see how their last appearance in a final that was billed as a relative formality turned out.

 

Unfortunately for Bruce’s challengers, his two star strikers—Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic—are cup-tied for the final, but as any fan of disaster cinema will tell you, being outnumbered and outgunned is all a protagonist needs to escape the rapture. Even John Cusack did as much in that one where the Buddhist monk climbed to the top of Everest only to be swept away by a giant tidal wave. It had planes taking off in earthquakes and a big aircraft carrier thing he had to throw his kids onto at the end. High Fidelity was it? Who knows.

Regardless, the fate of the FA Cup could well depend on who can discover their inner Cusack. Sone Aluko or Olivier Giroud. It’s got to be Arsenal, right? Right?

 

Betting Instinct tip – Arsenal to win 2-1 after a spirited Hull performance is 7.60 with GR88.com.

 

Greg avatar GREG 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. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.

 

Spain or Portugal to win the Sevilla v Benfica Europa League Final?

Benfica players collapse in despair after losing the Europa League Final to Chelsea last season, will tonight be different?

Benfica players collapse in despair after losing the Europa League Final to Chelsea last season, will tonight be different?

The Europa League final at the Juventus Stadium in Italy this evening is a tale of two sides with 100% records in their finals in this competition in the past, in both its UEFA Cup and Europa League guises. Sevilla come into the game having reached the final in 2006 and 2007, winning both of them, while Benfica’s two finals came 30 years apart in 1983 and last season, and both ended with the Portuguese side collecting runners up medals. Will tonight’s Sevilla v Benfica Europa League final be different for these teams?

Sevilla v Benfica Match Odds (Normal Time only):

Sevilla – 3.05

Draw – 3.10

Benfica – 2.28

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

Sevilla have been hit and miss in the knockout stages of the Europa League this season as their last three ties against Real Betis, Porto and Valencia have seen them swing back and forth between progression and elimination before sneaking through to tonight’s final. Against their fellow Spaniards Betis, who have been relegated from the La Primera Liga as the bottom side in the league, Sevilla were beaten 2-0 at home before winning 2-0 on the road to force a penalty shootout and a place in the Quarter Finals. A fine second leg performance saw them overturn a 1-0 deficit to Porto as they reached the final four stage 4-2 on aggregate and after bringing a 2-0 lead to Valencia for the semi finals they needed an injury time goal to progress on away goals after a 3-3 tie. They are without a win in four games before tonight, so will their luck continue or finally run out tonight?

Benfica were beaten at the weekend too, but their 2-1 defeat away to Porto was their first loss in 14 matches and was a game that they rested players for the trip to Turin this evening. They are one of the more impressive sides in Europe this season having already won the league and league cup double and with tonight’s Europa League and the Portuguese Cup finals coming up this evening and at the weekend they stand a superb chance of ending the season with four titles to their name.

Benfica have been the more consistent of the two sides in this Spain v Portugal all-Iberian clash at the Juventus Stadium tonight with six wins and two draws on their way to the final tonight. They sent Juventus, the side who would have loved to play this final on home soil, crashing out at the semi final stage and I believe that they are the better of these two sides and they will finally end their inability to win the Europa League finals tonight.

Back Benfica to claim Europa League glory with victory tonight @ 2.28 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 Closest Premier League Finishes

Manchester City are one game away from their second Premier League title

Manchester City are one game away from their second Premier League title

Crystal Palace’s dramatic comeback against Liverpool on Monday night means victory for the Premier League’s top two on Sunday would see the title decided by a margin of just two points.

Compared to last year’s title ‘race’, where Manchester United romped home by 11 points, that seems close. However it has been even tighter in the past.

 

Manchester City v West Ham United Betting Odds:

Man City win – 1.17

West Ham win – 14.50

Draw – 7.80

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

 

3. 1998-99: Manchester United 79 points, Arsenal 78 points

There have been several seasons where the destination of the Premier League trophy has been decided by a single point, however I’m going with this one as everything was still all to play for on the final day.

United were looking to reclaim the title after Arsenal’s league and cup double of the previous season, but had a balancing act on their hands with finals in the FA Cup and Champions League to follow the end of the Premier League campaign.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s late winner for Leeds against Arsenal in the penultimate game of the season had helped the Yorkshire club secure Champions League football, but more importantly it left Sir Alex Ferguson’s club – who themselves had only drawn with relegated Blackburn – one point clear entering the final round of fixtures.

The Manchester club faced Tottenham in the final game – a side with nothing to play for, and one which sceptics suggested would have no desire to do their North London rivals a favour. However Les Ferdinand’s lob gave Spurs a shock first-half lead, and while David Beckham equalised before the break, Arsenal knew that a goal of their own against Aston Villa would put them top.

However Andy Cole gave United the lead just minutes into the second half, and while Kanu’s second-half strike for Arsenal made for a nervy final few minutes up at Old Trafford, United held on to finish the campaign one point clear of there rivals. What happened next at Wembley and Camp Nou will live long in the memory.

 

2. 2009-10: Chelsea 86 points, Manchester United 85 points

The 2009-10 season could easily have been a transitional one for Manchester United. Cristiano Ronaldo had joined Real Madrid off the back of a season in which he led his employers to the Champions League final, and in had come the rather uninspiring quartet of Mame Biram Diouf, Gabriel Obertan, Michael Owen and Antonio Valencia.

However a fast start – six wins from the first seven games – and a five-game winning run in February and March which seemed to be a staple of Ferguson sides – United were at the summit when Chelsea came to visit on April 3rd.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side had blown hot and cold – putting five past Blackburn and seven past Sunderland but finishing with nine men in a 4-2 defeat at home to a Manchester City side only just beginning to establish themselves as Champions League contenders let alone title challengers. But they got things right at Old Trafford, opening up a two goal lead through Joe Cole and Didier Drogba before Kiko Macheda’s late goal made them sweat.

United were still feeling the effects of that defeat the following week, failing to break down a Blackburn side containing such luminaries as Vince Grella and Nikola Kalinić, meaning even defeat at Tottenham did not stop the Blues going into the final weekend a point clear.

What could have been a tense afternoon proved anything but, as Nicolas Anelka’s early goal and a red card for Wigan’s Gary Caldwell allowed Chelsea to cruise to what would end up as an 8-0 victory, taking them over the 100 goal mark for the season. United’s 4-0 victory over Stoke was positively underwhelming in comparison.

 

3. 2011-12: Manchester City 89 points (+64 goal difference), Manchester United 89 points (+56 goal difference)

When Manchester City won 6-1 at Old Trafford in October 2011, few mentioned goal difference considerations, and rightly so – the result was so monumental in its own right that the late goals from Edin Džeko and David Silva were seen as statement-making rather than mere statistics. However it would be goal difference that ended up deciding the destination of the title after one of the most dramatic final days in Premier League history.

That momentous win had left City five points clear after nine games and serious contenders to earn their first ever Premier League title. New signing Sergio Agüero had hit the ground running, while fellow strikers Džeko and Mario Balotelli would also end the season with double figures. However a relative slump around the turn of the year would hand the initiative to their local rivals and a run of two points from three games in March and April looked like ending Roberto Mancini’s title dreams.

But then, much like this season, their rivals slipped up at a crucial moment. Shaun Maloney’s winner for Wigan opened the door before Steven Pienaar’s late Everton equaliser at Old Trafford nudged it that bit wider. Before you knew it, Vincent Kompany’s header in a late-season Manchester Derby put City ahead on goal difference and a 2-0 victory at Newcastle left them needing just a home win against struggling QPR.

If that seemed straightforward, people should have known better. As United ground out a 1-0 victory at Sunderland, City saw their early lead cancelled out by goals from Djibril Cissé and Jamie Mackie, as the London club chased the win they needed to guarantee their top-flight status.

As the game entered stoppage time, Mark Hughes’ visitors were down to 10-men but still in the lead. However Džeko’s header gave them hope and as the clock ticked towards the 94-minute mark up stepped Agüero to fire home the winner from Balotelli’s pass, the Italian’s first and only assist in English football.

 

The Premier League, or any league for that matter, will do well to produce a more dramatic finish to a season. Can it happen again?

 

There’s no need to worry about an underwhelming finale, as if any of this weekend’s Premier League games end goalless, GR88.com will refund selected losing match bets on that particular game. Full terms and conditions can be found here.

 

Betting Instinct tip – With Manchester City and Liverpool both facing theoretically simple home games, back both teams to win to nil at 4.39 with GR88.com.

 

tvTOM 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. You can follow him on Twitter or Google+.

MLB: Jump on the Milwaukee Brewers’ fast start whilst you still can

13496954265_9a7202ff4b_z   Milwaukee, Wisconsin is just the kinda place where you could imagine them putting something beer in the water to make things feel a lot better. This baseball season, however, Brewers fans have been chugging down the beers and for once it hasn’t been solely to drown their collective sorrows. Through the opening month of the season the Brewers, who were unfancied in a stacked National League Central division, own the best record in all the Majors with an impressive 22 wins and 11 losses before Tuesday’s home stand against the Arizona Diamondbacks got underway.

National League Central – Outright Betting Odds:

St Louis Cardinals -141

Milwaukee Brewers +190

Cincinnati Reds +700

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

The success has been built on the kind of big picture antics made famous by Billy Beane and the Michael Smith book Moneyball with a team that loves hitting just about as much as Beane loved his teams to get on base at the Oakland Athletics, leading one Sports Illustrated writer to dub it ‘Brewerball’. This being the case it’s highly unlikely that any sports bettors even considered the Brewers as post season candidates in the Spring given its 88-loss season last year. Should bettors be taking a look at those odds now though?

When it comes to winning games and notching up hits then ride the Brewers whilst you can. The team is just the fourth team to win 20 games in the first month since the advent of the Wild Card and two of those teams went on to win over 100 games and plough deep furrows into the post-season.

Pitching is another area where the team has excelled through a five man rotation led by aces Yovani Gallardo [2-1, 2.47 ERA] and Kyle Lohse [4-1, 2.72 ERA] that are more than holding their own against some of the best hitters in the game.

That’s all well and good but it’s worth taking an extreme note of caution when it comes to the team’s divisional record given that a large percentage of its games pit the club against the likes of reigning the NL champion St Louis Cardinals and two 2013 wild cards in the shape of the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates.

The record so far doesn’t make particularly good reading given that eight of its 11 losses have come at the hands of teams in the NL Central and of the three series it has lost this season, two have come against direct divisional opponents [Cards and Reds].

Cardinals right-handed pitcher Shelby Miller has been a particular nemesis, the youngster limiting the explosive Brewers to just four runs over the two games he has pitched. Whilst the odds may be long on the Brewers to make the playoffs and tempt bettors, the divisional toughness will extinguish any hopes of an NL Central title or even a wild card spot.

That brings us to the coming three game set with the Yankees that will be the first chance for many to see the Brewers’ bats in action and the big stage combined with a poor start to May could have an adverse effect on the team’s chances.

A saving grace for the Brewers is that Gallardo gets the ball in game one of the three game set against the Yankees’ most consistent starter Masahiro Tanaka in what will be a low scoring encounter. Kyle Lohse then gets the nod in Saturday’s clash with CC Sabathia and it’s worth jumping on the Brewers in the first two games of the set thanks to the strength of the two starters on the mound.

 

Betting Instinct tip – Get on Milwaukee to beat the Yankees on Friday night. They’re +120 with AllYouBet.ag

 

 JAMIE HINKSb134431a32f9f238467cd75e1b0b3454 (jamiehinks) is an experienced content writer who has focused on the gambling industry   and technology, and has an obsession with football and all US sports. You can follow him  on Twitter here and  on Google+ here.

Bundesliga dinosaur facing extinction!

Relegation dogfight for Hamburg

Hamburg are still battling to avoid a first-ever relegation!

The German Bundesliga season reaches its final matchday on Saturday with plenty of questions still to be answered. Bayern Munich may have claimed the title in record time at the end of March, but the question of both Champions League and Europa League places remains open and a thrilling fight to avoid the drop is also on the cards.

The final three in the table have already been decided, but the system of a playoff between the team finishing 16th in the Bundesliga and the team finishing 3rd in the second division means that there is still everything to play for. Braunschweig go into the weekend propping up the table on 25 points, with Nuremberg just one point ahead and Hamburg just two. It is the latter that has been making all the headlines this season as HSV is the only team in the country to have played every season in the top flight since the inception of the Bundesliga in 1963. Nicknamed the “Bundesliga Dinosaur” by the German press, the club will become “extinct” if they fail to win away at Mainz and either of their rivals picks up three points. Mirko Slomka, who took over on the Hamburg bench at the start of February, has failed to work any miracles and the pressure is well and truly on both players and coaching staff alike as they attempt to avoid their place in the history books. An improved showing during last week’s defeat to Bayern Munich could provide a straw to cling to, but with Mainz looking for a win to secure a Europa League berth, Hamburg cannot expect any presents on Saturday.

Mainz vs. Hamburg Odds

Mainz                    1.8
Draw                     3.85
Hamburg             3.75

Odds provided by www.allyoubet.ag are correct of today but subject to change.

CHRIS I. (tipsterchris) is a European sports blogger who’s hooked on football — both NFL American football and European football.  Chris discusses betting tips and trends and includes betting odds in his regular posts at BI.

Man City favoured to grasp the Premier League trophy this evening!

Man City are favourites to lift the Premier League trophy once again after Liverpool's draw with Crystal Palace on Monday night

Man City are favourites to lift the Premier League trophy once again after Liverpool’s draw with Crystal Palace on Monday night

On paper it is a simple task for Manchester City to claim the 2013/14 Premier League trophy and become the champions for the second time in three years as they have to face Aston Villa and West Ham at the Etihad Stadium in their final pair of matches that, if won, will see them crowned kings of England, completing a Capital One Cup and league double. They start by welcoming the Midlanders to the blue half of Manchester this evening knowing that, thanks to Liverpool’s late concession of three goals to draw 3-3 with Crystal Palace on Monday night (something that cost me a winning bet – thanks Liverpool!), victory will see them two points clear going into the final round of matches this weekend. Can they thrive in the pressure where Liverpool failed so miserably?

Manchester City v Aston Villa Match Odds:

Man City Victory – 1.15

Draw – 8.40

Villa Victory – 16.00

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

After 17 home matches this season, City sit second in the home league table second only to Chelsea who have already completed their quota of matches at Stamford Bridge. City have two games in front of the cheering masses at the Etihad Stadium to make up two points on Jose Mourinho’s Londoners and having bagged 57 league goals this season, at an average of more than three a match, they will certainly be confident of victory this evening and to tighten their grasp on the Premier League trophy.

Villa have not had too bad of a season away from Villa Park during the 2013/14 season as they have collected 17 points from four wins and five draws – while also losing eight games – but with them averaging just a single goal per away match this season they could very well be in trouble at the Etihad this evening. They are safe from relegation, with their 3-1 win over FA Cup finalists Hull City at the weekend seeing them edge past the point that they could be reached by Norwich, but how will they react to this? Can they kick onwards or will they cruise through the final two games safe in the knowledge they have pulled it out of the fire?

I personally feel that the Villa players will feel that they have given their all during the season to ensure their safety and with this secured, as well as having lost six games in a row at the Etihad in Premier League action, they may not be as motivated for this game tonight as they may have been if they were not assured of another season in the top flight. City have certainly got more to play for tonight and I see them cruising past the floundering Midlanders on home soil tonight.

Back Manchester City to beat Aston Villa by at least three goals (City -2.5) @ 2.10 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.

Liverpool to put pressure on Man City in the Premier League title race at Selhurst Park tonight?

Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have 50 Premier League goals this season, will they add more this evening?

Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have 50 Premier League goals this season, will they add more this evening?

Tonight’s Crystal Palace versus Liverpool game at Selhurst Park sees a clash of the league’s top scorers and the league’s lowest scoring team and it is Liverpool who have much more to play for this evening. They are level with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League with both sides having two very winnable games left to play, so they know that they cannot afford to slip up tonight after a Crystal Palace side that have looked impressive under the stewardship of Tony Pulis. Liverpool have to win tonight, but can they do so?

Crystal Palace v Liverpool Match Odds:

Palace Victory – 8.00

Draw – 5.20

Liverpool Victory – 1.33

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

Liverpool have had eight days off since their 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea who, according to Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, “parked two buses” at Anfield to keep a clean sheet and capitalise on a slip from Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard as well as killing the game off in injury time through a breakaway by former Liverpool great Fernando Torres and Brazilian Willian. These eight days will have given the club the chance to think about the mistakes made in that match – knowing that a draw against Chelsea would have seen the title in their own hands – but can the would be champions bounce back from the disappointment of that loss?

They will not find it easy to win at Selhurst Park this evening as Palace manager Tony Pulis claimed the Manager of the Month award for April having guided the club to wins over Cardiff, Aston Villa, Everton and West Ham following victory at home to Chelsea in the final game of March. This has seen the club secure a second season in the Premier League for the first time in their history and they will can close to within three points of a place in the top half of the league going into next weekend’s final match of the season if they can upset the odds against Liverpool tonight, but with Liverpool unable to drop points in the title race will a shock result be possible?

Liverpool’s pair of strikers in Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have 50 goals in the league between them this season and this almost double the amount that Palace have scored all season, with them bagging just 28 goals in 36 games. This will certainly give Liverpool the advantage going forwards, but with Palace having three fewer goals than their guests tonight will this defensive edge see them able to get something from the game? With Sturridge out injured recently and Suarez not scoring goals as consistently as in the first two thirds of the season, there is certainly a chance of the hosts getting something from this match.

Personally, I see Liverpool edging the match at Selhurst Park tonight, but it will just that – a close game with only a goal or two in the final result. Palace will push them all the way and with Jason Puncheon showing that he can find the net lately, I see both of these sides getting on the scoresheet and my money is on goals as well as the away win this evening.

Back Liverpool to beat Crystal Palace tonight and there to be more than 2.5 goals in the game @ 1.77 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.