Roma v Juventus: Can the pretenders stop the Ju-Ju train?

Since September 11th 2011 Juventus have lost only eight league games and taken exclusive residence atop Serie A. Five of those defeats came in the 2012/13 campaign where they would occasionally succumb to ennui at their whole shtick of going in front, controlling the game, seeing it out, then shaking hands and wishing their vanquished all the best. You know, that predictable old winning thing.

The previous season – when monopoly was still a fresh, intriguing proposition – they were invincible.

Roma v Juventus Betting Odds:

Roma win 2/1

Juventus win 13/10

Draw 11/5

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

Since September 11th 2011 – that’s 138 games in case you were wondering – the Old Lady has crushed its nearest and dearest with iron-fisted dominance. And now, after extending their already-healthy lead over second placed Roma last weekend, the ruthless Bianconeri scent a fourth consecutive title.

They have done this before: Given their rivals a glimmer of hope, showed a bit of ankle, then raced away with half a season to spare. Now, with a nine point lead looking unassailable following Totti and co’s draw in Verona surely it’s all now a formality?
Surely we are all better off concentrating our attentions on a terrific scrap for European qualification or a bitter relegation dogfight involving Verona, Cagliari, Chievo, and Atalanta? The tussle for the top is over. The champions-elect may as well be crowned before March blossoms its blooms.

Unless…

Unless there is one particular fixture scheduled for this one particular time and rather wonderfully there is.
Juve – Tevez, Pogba and all – head to the Stadio Olimpico this Monday evening knowing the avoidance of defeat will put them out of sight. A stalemate will more than suffice but while Bonucci and Chiellini will typically be in lockdown mode, don’t expect classic catenaccio. For one thing it is impossible to curtail the scurrying adventure of Tevez while Pirlo’s pearler last week demonstrated once again that any set-pieces attained within his scud missile range are potentially priceless. Moreso the knowledge that Roma will have to unleash hell lends the perfect opportunity to be brave, allow the magnificent Pogba the freedom of the park, and hurt the home side when stretched.

And Roma WILL have to unleash hell; an opening up of their usual cat-and-mouse caginess that has seen them draw eight from their previous eleven games, only scoring more than once on a couple of those occasions.
Coach Rudi Garcia must dispense with conservatism and entrust the cute creativity of Ljajic to pick the Juventus padlock and perhaps add to his eight league goals this term. Pjanic’s pinpoint probing meanwhile must take priority over work-rate.
So much of Roma’s success this season has been built on solid foundations. The experienced De Sanctis has been in the form of his long career with Astori ahead of him a calm colossus. Now though we get to see what i giallorossi have to offer when all guns blazing. They will certainly be battle-hardened after coming through a highly charged trip to Feyenoord on Thursday evening, a Europa League clash that was suspended for ten minutes after objects were thrown onto the pitch including, depressingly, an inflatable banana.

The wounded whippet Iturbe will be a big loss as too, possibly, Maicon who is a doubt. But personnel plays secondary importance for such a clash. It is mentality – or more pertinently a change of mentality – that matters here.
For the neutral a repeat scoreline – either way – from the corresponding fixture in Turin last October will be welcomed. That barmy evening saw five goals, two reds, and three penalties.

Whether it’s a tight affair though or an incident-packed thriller one thing is for certain – if it goes Juve’s way the old lady will put on weight and start to sing.

Betting Instinct tip – with Juve content to keep things tight early on, we could well see the game being level at half-time. You can back this at 21/20 with Intertops.eu

Ste avatar STEPHEN TUDOR is editor of the Daisy Cutter, the football newspaper that only sometimes lies. He also writes  for  Sabotage Times, When Saturday Comes, Late Tackle and others. Follow him on Twitter.

Will Liverpool and Man City miss key men in Champions League showdowns?

Who will be missed more, Sergio Aguero or Daniel Sturridge?

Who will be missed more, Sergio Aguero or Daniel Sturridge?

While Chelsea and Arsenal have sealed their progress to the Champions League second round with a game to spare, things are not so simple for the remaining two Premier League representatives.

A combination of tough opponents and underwhelming performances have left Liverpool and Manchester City with a tough task to qualify, but both have their fate in their own hands going into matchday 6.

Liverpool v FC Basel Betting Odds:

Liverpool win 7/10

Basel win 7/2

Draw 53/20

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

Liverpool’s return to European football’s top table for the first time in five years has been overshadowed by attacking woes, with Daniel Sturridge’s absence through injury adding to the departure of Luis Suarez to Barcelona. Strikers Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert have scored just once each in the five group games so far, with Brendan Rodgers’ side picking up just one more point after a narrow win over Ludogorets in their opening game.

However victory over FC Basel would be enough to ensure progress behind group winners Real Madrid. The Swiss champions edged past the Reds at home thanks to a Marco Streller goal, but have won just one of their last five away games in the competition. That was in England, though, when a Streller winner made the difference against Chelsea last season.

An absent striker is the main story for Manchester City as well, with the injury picked up by Sergio Aguero in Saturday’s victory over Everton ruling the Argentine out of Wednesday’s trip to Roma. And after his hat-trick in a last-gasp win over Bayern Munich, it is fair to say that Aguero will be missed, with Stevan Jovetic and Edin Dzeko both yet to score in the competition this season.

Like their fellow Premier League club, City have just one win from five games so far. However, due to a quirk in the Champions League’s head-to-head tiebreaker, Manuel Pellegrini’s men could progress with six points or exit with eight. All they know is defeat in the Italian capital (or a goalless draw) would see them eliminated.

Will we have a repeat of 2012-13, where two English sides failed to make it past the group stage, or could we still see the perfect qualification record enjoyed by Premier League outfits last season?

Betting Instinct tip Liverpool to win and Manchester City to win or draw is 2.6 with Intertops.eu

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.

Things We’ll Learn This Month – November

Can Mario Balotelli's first domestic goal for Liverpool inspire a fruitful November?

Can Mario Balotelli’s first domestic goal for Liverpool inspire a fruitful November?

October is almost over, so now it’s time to embrace the wintry delights of November, with its bonfires, its toffee apples and its anti-catholicism. There’s some football games scheduled as well, let’s see if any of them might be capable of bringing a bit of sunshine to our bleak existences.

 

The opening weekend of the month sees the first Manchester derby of the season, it’s been a pretty reliable fixture in terms of entertainment value recently, with late goals, comedy errors and the odd hiding thrown in to keep us amused. United are a different beast to the pale imitation of a football side David Moyes was in charge of last season, they still aren’t particularly good, the defence is awful and the midfield hasn’t really been fixed but they do have Angel Di Maria and he’s part footballer part magic elf (by that I mean he’s good and looks like an elf) so they pose a far greater threat than 12 months ago.

City meanwhile have problems of their own, namely in the shape of a sulky Yaya Toure but when a side can call on Sergio Aguero and David Silva then they’re never going to be far short of ‘pretty bloody good’. City will probably win because they’re a better football side but United should have enough about them to ensure November starts with a bang (I think that might be a firework joke, sorry). Also on the first weekend we have Burnley travelling to play Arsenal, Burnley are a Championship team in all but name, Arsenal will still somehow struggle, there might, if we’re lucky be some booing, Arsenal fans are some of the best booers in the league. You don’t want to miss that.

Betting Instinct tip – Manchester City and Arsenal to both win this weekend is 2.25 with Intertops.eu

 

On to the second weekend and the big one is Chelsea visiting Anfield. With Mario Balotelli doing a passable impression of Chelsea era Fernando Torres/Andry Shevchenko/Adrian Mutu/Mateja Kezman and Chelsea doing a passable impression of a first Mourinho era Chelsea side only much prettier, you’d have to expect we’ll be hearing more creative excuses from Brendan come the final whistle. Maybe this time Balotelli’s hair will be the problem? or his choice of aftershave? Ah well, let’s just hope no one swaps shirts prematurely, we all know that’s the real scourge of modern football, and Brendan won’t stand for it (I thought it was holding in the box – ed.)

Having looked at the fixtures, West Ham actually have a pretty easy month, maybe this top 4 charge isn’t so unlikely, maybe we’ll get to see Big Sam manage at the Bernabeu after all or maybe Andy Carroll will come back and they’ll revert to type, long diagonals into the big man with Kevin Nolan feeding of the scraps. It’s hard to tell (no it isn’t – ed.).

 

During November we also have one of those international ‘week of football’ things, normally this would send us all into a fit of despair so deep that many of us would never fully recover but in this instance we have a genuinely big game to look forward to. It’s the battle of the Celts at Celtic Park as Scotland entertain Ireland, two evenly matched sides with everything to play for on a Friday night in Glasgow, it’ll be brilliant, or if not brilliant then at least a bit violent (amusing violence not real violence that is). A few days after that it’s the turn of England to take on the resurgent Scots but because I promised to take my girlfriend to see Jack White the same night (before I realised there was a clash (it’s part of her birthday as well, no getting out of it (not that I want to get out of it if you’re reading honey*))) I completely refuse to discuss it.

 Betting Instinct tip – Ireland (9/1) and Scotland (16/1) are generously priced with Coral to qualify from Group D

 

When Premier League action resumes the stand out game is probably Arsenal vs Man United. This fixture which has given so much over the years has been diminished somewhat with the cooling of hostilities between the two camps. During the later years of the Ferguson reign there was even signs of a mutual respect beginning to emerge, which I think we can all agree is frankly unacceptable. However whilst there will almost certainly be no food fights or the like, we do have the prospect of two talented but fragile sides going head to head, a scenario that often results in goals and red cards, and I’m not sure you can ask for more than that.

 

* I obviously don’t call my girlfriend honey.


Ally avatarALLY MONCRIEFF

Things We’ll Learn This Month – October

Arsenal's Mesut Özil has underwhelmed as former captain Cesc Fàbregas has impressed at Chelsea. The two square up this weekend

Arsenal’s Mesut Özil has underwhelmed as former captain Cesc Fàbregas has impressed at Chelsea. The two square up this weekend

So we come to October with the Premier League table still in a state of flux, as new signings and new coaching methodologies begin to click into gear there is intrigue wherever you look. Which makes it all the more annoying that there is another one of those international ‘week of football’ things in the middle of the month. Being generous there are possibly three games a human being in charge of their cognitive processes would consider watching, and one of them is Scotland vs Poland. So for the good of all our souls they will not be mentioned here.

 

The first Premier League weekend of October does throw up a few tasty fixtures, most of them are on Sunday though, so you have no excuses not to do something community spirited on Saturday, maybe mow an elderly neighbour’s lawn? On Sunday the oldies can do their own gardening (they love that kind of thing anyway) as we have Louis Van Gaal who continues to channel the spirit of Kevin Keegan (Keegan is not dead – ed.) with his ‘buy loads of great attackers and hope the defence somehow sorts itself’ strategy facing up against Roberto Martinez whose Everton team have gone a bit Wigan this season, there will be goals, there just has to be. After that it’s Arsenal taking their traditional injury crisis on the road to Stamford Bridge where they will receive their traditional spanking from Chelsea, the only difference this time is that they get to have their hearts broken by watching Cesc Fàbregas, their former idol looking really rather good in royal blue.

Betting Instinct tip The Manchester United/Chelsea double is 9/5 with AllYouBet.ag

 

*INTERNATIONAL WEEK KLAXON*

 

With the unpleasantness of European Championship qualifying out of the way for a while it’s not the most exciting set of fixtures to return to. QPR vs Liverpool might be fun, if only to see how Richard Dunne deals with the electrified scampering of Raheem Sterling, you would guess not well.

 

At the end of the month we get to witness the first meeting on English soil of Van Gaal and Mourinho (I can’t be bothered to check if they’ve met on any nationality of soil, to be honest I just don’t care). The one thing missing from the Premier League in recent years is a genuinely bitter managerial rivalry. This is by far our best chance to get back to the peak years where the heavyweight showdowns of Mourinho vs Benitez and Ferguson vs Wenger were box office entertainment. Now that Mourinho has presumably given up on the Manchester United job (remember when they hired David Moyes ahead of him!?) he might finally aim some of his verbal jousts in the direction of the not exactly shy Van Gaal. It promises to be spectacular. Oh and the game might be decent as well.

 

Burnley are in the Premier League apparently, without checking their fixtures I think we can safely assume that they will collect at best one point during October, they are possibly the most Championship side ever to play in the top flight, it’s a miracle Sean Dyche took them up, if he keeps them there he should be made Pope.

 

The standout Champions League tie this month is of course Liverpool entertaining Real Madrid. It’s not been the best of starts for Brendan ‘Brendan’ Rodgers post-Suarez, the defensive cracks covered up by the (possibly) evil Uruguayan are now cavernous in their obviousness and if he’s in the mood you’d expect that Portuguese lad Real have could score about a dozen. Anfield on European nights is often a quite magical spectacle though and this is about as glamorous an opposition as you can get, the old place will be rocking and whilst anything other than a Madrid victory would be considered a massive surprise football isn’t as simple as that. Of course what will actually happen is that Ronaldo will strut about like the prettiest peacock in the zoo, only stopping to batter in a couple of goals and extravagantly ‘shush’ the locals. Also Sterling will play quite well and will then be linked with a move to the Bernabeu for the rest of time.

Betting Instinct tip – Real Madrid to retain the Champions League this season is 7/2 with Intertops.eu

 

In fairness October looks a bit rubbish but it is the month of Halloween so we can look forward to lots of pictures of footballers in fancy dress, which is nice as long as no one ‘blacks up’, I’m looking at you *REDACTED*

 

Ally avatarALLY MONCRIEFF is a freelance football writer and editor of All or Nothing magazine. Sometimes even he can’t tell if he’s being serious or not. Follow Ally on Twitter and maybe he’ll be your friend.

Will Serie A champions Juventus continue unbeaten this weekend?

Juventus v Udinese

September has so far been a fine month for Italian football as Antonio Conte has led Italy to victory over the Netherlands in a friendly match before seeing his team claim a 2-0 win in their opening Euro 2016 qualifying match. Now this weekend sees the team that he took to three successive Serie A titles before leaving shortly before the start of this 2014/15 season aims to record a second successive win in the league following the international break and set out their stall for their campaign to win a fourth title in a row? Can the home side take all three points in this Juventus v Udinese match as both teams look to build on their opening round victories?

The betting markets certainly suggest that it’ll be hosts at the Juventus Stadium that emerge triumphant at the full time whistle, but do the Juventus v Udinese betting odds take the league’s top scorer into consideration?

Juventus v Udinese Betting Odds:

Juventus to win – 1.35

Draw – 4.75

Udinese to win – 8.00

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

While Juventus had a winning start to the season away at Chievo in the opening round of Serie A football, they did not exactly set the world alight in front of goal as they came away with a 1-0 victory decided by an own goal, as defender Cristiano Biraghi put through his own net. This may be a problem for them this weekend as they face an Udinese side that has one of the most lethal strikers in Europe leading the line for them in Antonio di Natale.

The 36 year old striker had announced that he was to retire at the end of the 2013/14 season, but he reversed his decision at the end of the season and chose to stay with the club he signed for in 2004 for this season. It has been a great decision for both club and player as he has played two matches so far and he has scored seven times.

 

His season began with five goals in the 5-1 win over Ternana in the Coppa Italia before he added a brace in the 2-0 home win over Empoli before the international break and he will be desperate for more goals this weekend. However, Juventus have been the far better of the two teams in recent encounters with five straight wins before this weekend’s clash and they are unbeaten in six meetings since Alexis Sanchez, now of Arsenal, scored a late winner at the Juventus Stadium in January 2011.

The biggest question on everyone’s lips for this top of the table clash in Italy is will di Natale’s individual brilliance be enough for Udinese to upset the odds or will the all around greatness of this three time title winning Juventus side see them live up to their pre-match favourites billing?

 

I personally feel the hosts are likely to be the better team in this Juventus v Udinese match with the likes of Carlos Tevez, Fernando Llorente and Paul Pogba all more than capable of scoring goals and Arturo Vidal and that title winning defence capable of keeping the opposition out. However, di Natale is more than capable of showcasing his confidence, belief and excellence to net his first goal against the Bianconeri since a 3-0 home win for Udinese at the end of the 2009/10 season.

With a fantastic game of football potentially on the cards, I am putting my money on goals on this top drawer match from Serie A this weekend that will see the home side emerge as the winning side at full time.

Betting Instinct tip – Back +2.5 goals in the Juventus v Udinese match this weekend @ 1.80 with AllYouBet.ag.

 

AntoPic

 ANTONY JORDAN has more than ten years experience in the online gaming industry and writes sports  betting  content for several online gaming sites and companies. Read his work on Facebook and Twitter.

Arsenal start Premier League season with tricky test against Crystal Palace

Alexis Sanchez is expected to make his Premier League debut on Saturday

Alexis Sanchez is expected to make his Premier League debut on Saturday

The 2014-2015 Premier League season will kick off with what promises to be a feisty encounter as Crystal Palace travel to the Emirates to face Arsenal in one of the first London derbies of the season. Tony Pulis, a manager well known for his baseball caps and his distaste for all things Arsenal and Arsene Wenger, will look to employ the same hard tactics against the North Londoners as he did during his Stoke days. After taking over from Ian Holloway last season and helping Palace to relegation survival, Pulis has helped transform what was once a floundering side out of ideas, into a staunch, defensive contingent capable of frustrating the big boys.

 

Arsenal v Crystal Palace Betting Odds:

Arsenal win – 1.25

Crystal Palace win – 10.00

Draw – 5.50

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

 

Palace started off their pre-season tour by demolishing amateur outfit GAK Graz 13-1 before drawing 2-2 with a respectable Columbus Crew side. The Eagles then beat the Philadelphia Union 1-0 and USL-Pro side Richmond Kickers 3-0, before losing to Brentford 3-2 and closing out by drawing 0-0 with German side FC Augsburg. Pulis’ famed defensive solidity have been in evidence, while the Eagles showed promise in their performances against two MLS sides in midseason form in what were surely fitness exercises.

As far as transfer business this summer goes, Palace has managed to bring in Fraizer Campbell from Cardiff City, young goalkeeper Chris Kettings from Blackpool and Brede Hangeland from Fulham. Campbell will most likely team up with former Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh, with Hangeland playing beside Scott Dann in what could be a very formidable center-pack pairing.

 

Arsenal will be looking for an easy win to start off their season, but will face a tough opponent in Palace. The Gunners have impressed –while admittedly not looking fully fit—during their preseason ventures. Arsene Wenger’s men started out by beating Boreham Wood 2-0 just to loosen the legs before traveling to the United States and losing 1-0 against the New York Red Bulls in a match that was missing many first team players. They returned to England for the Emirates Cup, trumping Benfica 5-1 in what was a rampant display of incisive football before losing narrowly to AS Monaco. Recently, they were able to dispatch the current EPL champions Manchester City with a 3-0 victory in the Community Shield.

Transfer-wise Arsenal have made a big splash this summer. Finally free of their seemingly self-imposed financial restrictions, they have made what is seemingly the signing of the season in former Barcelona man Alexis Sanchez. They also got in on the Southampton fire sale by bringing in a surprisingly ready Calum Chambers. Also signed were Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle to replace the departing Bacary Sagna and David Ospina to take over second goalkeeper duties after Lukas Fabianski left the club for a starting place at Swansea.

As well as the loss of Sagna and Fabianski, a host of youth team players have departed as well as the confident Nicklas Bendtner, and former captain Thomas Vermaelen who finalized his transfer to Barcelona recently.

 

All in all, the Gunners and the Eagles are both stronger this year than the last but history will be on Arsenal’s side. In the 33 games played against Arsenal, the South London side have only managed three wins, losing 22 of those encounters, with Arsenal doing the double over Saturday’s opponents last season. There is no reason to think the pattern will change in this match, Arsenal look poised to dispatch the Eagles once again, though it will not be as easy as in previous years.

 

Betting Instinct tip Arsenal to win with less than 2.5 goals in the game is 2.63 with Intertops.eu

 

BdykNApCQAEQ_-t ZITO MADU (zitov2) is a writer for SBnation, and has written for Surreal Football, LiveBreatheFutbol,  and numerous other sports sites. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.

Chilean and Dutch defences will succumb to Brazil and Mexico in World Cup second round

Javier Hernandez celebratesBrazil managed to avoid the proverbial cat-amongst-the-pigeons in the shape of Cameroon on Monday night and continued the long line of hosts to book a place in the second phase of their own World Cup where they will face the media’s current dark-horse-that-actually-isn’t-one in the shape of Chile.

Neymar is now on top of the scoring charts following the 4-1 demolition of the first African side to be knocked out of the tournament and Fred even managed to bundle one in but should Brazil have let the foot off the gas to try and set up a tie with Holland?

In a word, no. Although Chile look like a tasty proposition through the sumptuous ball play combined with their trademark toughness, the team just doesn’t know when to stick and not continually twist, to borrow some terms from poker. The side plays so high up the pitch when ahead in games it certainly looks as though a team that can get in behind, such as a Brazil led by Neymar, can take advantage.

Looking at the three games so far, Spain was by far the easiest game they had mainly down to the fact that the Iberians resorted to the usual tiki-taka style that has become their trademark for the last three tournament successes. Looking at the goals the Chileans conceded shows two flaws in the side’s back-line:

1)    They don’t deal with balls in the air very comfortably, as is illustrated by the goals scored by Leroy Fer and Tim Cahill.

2)    The defence is often too far up and this will lead to goals, like the Memphis Depay winner for Holland, or even disciplinary problems from players trying to stop an attack succeeding.

Brazil, meanwhile, have certain problems of their own and chief among them is the ridiculously high expectations of the home fans.

Anyone that has watched A Seleção won’t have missed the amount of emotion present within the ranks and a snippet from the national anthem illustrates this perfectly. Looming even larger than this is the fact Brazilians love to boo everything…even their own team. This was present during the pre-tournament friendlies and you can imagine come the 60 minute mark in Saturday’s game that if the team isn’t performing to the correct standard, the boos will get started and who knows what effect this will have on the team in the tournament proper.

The hosts’ defence, which has looked shaky at times in a poor group, shouldn’t be too much of a problem against Chile given the fact what is at the other end should see the team through. Later on in the tournament is when that can and perhaps will get unstuck.

Betting Instinct tip – Brazil v Chile to see over 3.5 goals is +190 with AllYouBet.ag

Another side with a defence that is entirely questionable is a Dutch team that has won the right to face Group A runner-up Mexico and its excitable manager Miguel Herrera.

Holland are the team that no-one gave a chance in Group B. Louis van Gaal’s side was supposed to succumb to the mercurial talents of both Spain and Chile before departing in a rage. That was before they smashed that plan to pieces by battering Spain and became the first side to finish the group stage on the maximum nine points.

Dutch fans should be worried about facing an unfancied Mexican side that failed to light up qualifying but has really found its feet under Herrera in the World Cup. The kind of speed and quickness on the break that has been exhibited by the central American side is something that will trouble the Dutch defence in the same way that Arjen Robben will do at the other end.

You feel that this one could well come down to the team that scores the most goals or the goalkeeper performs best, which at the moment hints at Mexico possibly stealing a path to the next round.

Betting Instinct tip – Mexico to qualify for the FIFA World Cup Quarter Final is 2.60 with Intertops.eu

 

 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.

Home Winner: An interview with Brazil World Cup superstar Neymar

 

At the age of 22, Neymar is playing in his first ever World Cup

At the age of 22, Neymar is playing in his first ever World Cup

The World Cup is just days away, and thanks to the Red Bulletin app, Betting Instinct is able to provide you an exclusive sneak-preview of an interview with Brazil’s golden boy Neymar.

The 22-year-old is second-favourite for the Golden Boot (11.00 with AllYouBet.ag), and in this interview he speaks about his World Cup memories, and the pressure of leading his home country to a potential World Cup triumph on home soil.

 

The Red Bulletin: How do you deal with the pressure of the whole country asking you to win the World Cup?

Neymar: It’s been a dream since I was young, and today it’s right before me: I’m Brazil’s number 10, I’m going to play the World Cup, in my own country. I can’t see that as pressure. It has to give me pride and happiness to take onto the pitch. Everyone says winning the World Cup is an indescribable joy, so I’m dying to feel that myself. I can’t wait to shout “We’re champions!” They say, “You’re under pressure, being the big name in the squad.” I’m not under pressure, I’m happy. I’ve always done things my way. I’ve had press with me since I was 13, saying I’d be the new Robinho. I’m someone who doesn’t really worry. If you don’t tell me that I’m Neymar and that I play for Barcelona and Brazil, I’ll forget it. People imagine me as they see me on television, but I’m completely different because I don’t feel pressure about anything.

What are your memories of Brazil’s last victory in the World Cup, in 2002?

I was 10, so I understood football. I woke up before dawn to watch the final at home. I even had Ronaldo’s haircut. I watched with my parents and sister, everyone together. Then we went to my granny’s house, we had a barbecue, everyone shouting “We’re Champions!” like real fans. The World Cup has always been my goal in life. It’s funny that today it’s nearly come true.

Your gift is dribbling. Did you copy feints from other players?

I followed Robinho closely because when I went to Santos, he was the star there. He’s my idol, and he dribbled a lot. And I’d watch Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo; any skilful player you can think of, I’ve seen videos of them. In kickabouts or training, I’d try and do the same. When it was game time it would come naturally. All dribbles where you’re trying something different, it’s about practising them. I don’t have a trick that I’ve invented yet. I have normal dribbles like using your body to trick the opponent, or the step-over, which I train and use a lot. I’ve used Zidane’s roulette. I’ve copied a lot.

Has dancing helped develop your football?

I think every Brazilian likes to dance a little. Put on some music that gets you in the mood, and a Brazilian might be sitting down, but he’ll always dance a little. I come from a family that loves samba and pagode. I think I have a little Brazilian ginga, something in the hips. I love to mess around with friends, to dance. It even got into my goal celebrations at Santos: that‘s how we’d have fun, scoring and doing dances in tribute to a singer friend or to the song.

Your football looks joyful. Do you still feel joy playing or is it more a job now?

It’s fun that has to be managed. You must be serious with it. But I’m always happy when I play. When you’re happy, things naturally work out; when you’re sad, things never work out.

How do you look back on your first season at Barcelona?

It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t bad. It’s my first time living outside my country. I miss my friends and family. It was hard at first. I’ve learned a lot, professionally, but also in my personal life. I study my teammates, what they talk about, how they act with other people. I take a little from many players and adapt it to my style. Some people are good on the pitch, others off it, some show good behaviour in training. I pick attributes from each one.

What’s surprised you about Lionel Messi, seeing him every day here?

He surprised me in every way. Before coming here, I heard all the horrible things people say: that he’s very reserved and doesn’t talk to anyone. Now I see it completely differently. Aside from being the genius, off the pitch he’s always great with me – not just me, but when I see him with other people too. There’s nothing bad I can say about him.

Will Brazil win the World Cup?

It’s what I want more than anything.

 

Betting Instinct tip – Neymar to score first in the opening World Cup game against Croatia this Thursday is 3.75 with Intertops.eu. Read Greg Johnson’s lowdown on Brazil’s opponents here.

 

Q&A courtesy of The Red Bulletin, Red Bull’s tablet app for all things sport and culture. Image  ©David Clerihew/The Red Bulletin. You can read the full article by downloading July’s issue of the Red Bulletin app.

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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+.

Italy v Ireland – Can the Irish repeat the historic 1-0 win of 20 years ago?

Ray Houghton scores the winner for Ireland against Italy at the 1994 World Cup, can Ireland beat the Italians 20 years later too?

Ray Houghton scores the winner for Ireland against Italy at the 1994 World Cup, can Ireland beat the Italians 20 years later too?

We are less than three weeks away from the 20th anniversary of the stunning Ray Houghton strike at the 1994 World Cup that saw Ireland secure their first ever win over the Italians as they managed to qualify for the last 16 stage of the tournament. Italy later went on to lose the final to Brazil as Italian hero Roberto Baggio blazed over during the shootout, but with them coming into tonight’s match looking for their first win since last September Italy will be desperate to return to winning ways before jetting out to Brazil for the World Cup.

Italy v Ireland Betting Odds:

Italy to win – 1.67

Draw – 3.20

Ireland to win – 5.10

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

Italy had a reasonably comfortable time to qualify for the World Cup this summer as they topped Group B of the UEFA qualification section with 22 points from six wins and four draws from their ten matches as they finished six points ahead of Denmark. However, two of those draws came in their final two matches as they limped over the line and their poor form has seen them fail to win since that time. They are without a win in any match since September 2013 and following those two competitive draws the Italians drew 1-1 with Germany and 2-2 with Nigeria to close out their matches for 2013. They had to come from a goal down in each of those matches to secure a point, but they were unable to do this against world champions Spain in Madrid as the game ended 1-0 with a thoroughly dominant performance from the hosts.

Italy will want to boost their confidence in tonight’s match, which is being held at the neutral venue of Fulham’s Craven Cottage in West London, by ending their eight month winless streak before they face Luxembourg in Verona next week and then begin their World Cup campaign against England on June 14th. They should have a good chance against the Irish this evening to end this streak as well.

Ireland are under new management of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane following a disappointing end to their World Cup qualification campaign under Giovanni Trapattoni and things have not been easy for them so far. They have won just one of four matches since the appointment, when they defeated Latvia 3-0 in Dublin, before drawing 0-0 with Poland at the end of November 2013 and both matches this year have seen them defeated. They played Serbia in March and Turkey a week ago, and they lost 2-1 in both matches and are still adjusting to life under their new coaches but they do tend to life their game against Italy so this should be an interesting match.

Ireland have drawn two and won one of their last four meetings with Italy since 2009 and they will be hopeful of ending their 100% losing record in 2014 this evening in London, but with Italy having just two days to trim their provisional squad for the World Cup from 30 to 23 players there will be many players fighting for a place on the plane to Brazil this evening so, in my eyes, they will be the side that wants it more. Ireland are sure to be up for the match though and I can see this being a close game that will see both sides find the net in search of ending their winless runs.

Back both teams to score in this evening’s Italy v Ireland World Cup warm up game at Craven Cottage @ 2.06 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.

Championship Playoff Final – The richest game in English football

John Eustace celebrates scoring the winner against QPR earlier this year, will he celebrate again today?

John Eustace celebrates scoring the winner against QPR earlier this year, will he celebrate again today?

The Championship Playoff Final is billed as the richest game in football with the winners of this 90 minute clash at the home of English football – Wembley Stadium – receiving a place in the Premier League and it’s vastness of riches. In recent years it was said that victory in this match was worth at least £60m, but with a new television rights deal having come into play last year the figure is even higher now, with the side finishing bottom of the Premier League in the 2013/14 season in Cardiff City claiming £74m.

Today’s match sees the third clash of Derby County and Queens Park Rangers this season and the sides that finished third and fourth in the league will be desperate to get their hands on the bag of gold awaiting them. Derby have been working from a small budget this season with less than £1m spent this season on transfers while QPR need to justify the massive amount of money spent since being taken over. Who’ll emerge victorious at full time?

Championship Playoff Final Betting Odds:

Derby – 2.18

Draw (and extra time) – 3.05

QPR – 3.10

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

Derby come into this final in outstanding form having won seven and drawn one of their final eight matches of the season, including winning 2-1 away at Brighton and then recording a 4-1 victory on home soil against the same side in the playoff semi finals. They have scored 90 goals in their 46 regular season games and two playoff matches this season as they finished as the league’s top scorers. Former England manager Steve McClaren has set them up as an attacking side since taking over from Nigel Clough at the end of September and despite their lack of experience in big games, like this Championship Playoff Final today, they will fear nobody and will be sure to use their vast arsenal of attacking players to go and take the game by the throat as their gameplan to ensure that it is they who are playing in the Premier League next season.

QPR are the more experienced of the two sides in these type of matches having splashed out so much money on top level players that have played at World Cups, won cup finals and have been promoted to the Premier League both automatically and via the playoffs. However, they struggled to overcome Wigan in the semi finals drawing 0-0 at the DW Stadium before drawing 1-1 in normal time at Loftus Road as they needed an extra time goal to secure their passage to Wembley this afternoon. They ended the season with just two wins in their final six games and have lost three of their last eight matches before today. They have a better defensive record than Derby, but do not score as many goals so will they be able to use the skills of their backline to ensure they are in with a chance of snatching victory against the free scoring Derby side?

The sides have shared a victory apiece when they have met this season with both teams recording one goal victories on home soil, and both of these wins came when they were one of the more dominant sides in the league. I feel that despite their lack of big game experience Derby are the better and more complete footballing side of these two finalists and that they are deserving of being the favourites. I see this match being another close game, but I am backing them to secure a return to the Premier League since their ill-fated 11 point season in 2007/08.

Back Derby to win this Championship Playoff Final against QPR and return to the Premier League @ 2.18 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.