MLS Betting: Real Salt Lake on a roll

Hat-trick of RSL victories

Real Salt Lake v Atlanta United
Saturday, 02:00
Live on Betfair Live Video

As discussed last week, I’m unconvinced by the Atlanta United revival under Frank De Boer, and the fact that they went down to the ten men of the New York Red Bulls and looked short of sparkle will give Real Salt Lake genuine hope this weekend.

RSL had a sticky patch of their own to negotiate, but they’ve started to fulfil their potential and come into this having won their last two games, with last week’s 3-0 win here against Toronto FC a particularly impressive achievement.

That victory will give Mike Petke’s team confidence, as it came against one of the League’s big hitters, and another good day here should move RSL into the top seven in the West.

I may be proved wrong about Atlanta, whose good recent run has them in fourth in the East going into the weekend, but they are a long way from the Tata Martino side that won MLS Cup last season, and with Ezequiel Barco still away at the Under 20 World Cup, they once again look there for the taking. With price key to us, RSL look big at [2.8] to make it three wins in a row.

Still believe in Seattle

Sporting Kansas City v Seattle Sounders
Sunday, 23:00
Live on Sky Sports Mix and Sky Sports Football

Seattle let us down last week, or at least sort of let us down, as they went to Philadelphia and picked up a 0-0 draw. They head to Sporting KC this weekend, and I’m going to back them at a similar price to come away with the win that they maybe should have secured last weekend.

The Sounders had to go to Philadelphia with just three days’ rest, and with Brian Schmetzer deciding to spare several first teamers, they could be even happier with their performance against a team that has been excellent at home so far.

Now they head to an SKC team who sit second bottom of the Western Conference, and with good reason. They’re in terrible form, having not won now in seven games, nine if you include the CONCACAF Champions League, and they threw away three points here last week against an average Vancouver side.

Seattle are a step up from that, and have lost only once all season (against the brilliant LAFC). They are picking up some good habits at the moment, and with a good deal of quality to return to the team this weekend, they look very big at [4.4] for the win.

Cincinnati over-estimated

FC Cincinnati v New York Red Bulls
Sunday, 00:30
Live on Betfair Live Video

Just when we thought that FC Cincinnati’s season had been reinvigorated by the firing of Alan Koch and the temporary appointment of Yoann Damet, they crumbled last week in Orlando, and it’s hard to know what frame of mind this squad will be in ahead of the visit of the New York Red Bulls this weekend.

It had all started so well under Damet: a surprising win against Montreal gave them hope, but last week at Orlando represented a reality check. A 5-1 defeat by a team that has also been struggling, and now Damet has to prepare for the visit of a New York Red Bulls team that is gradually improving and that comes here after an impressive win against Atlanta, achieved with ten men, and a more disappointing midweek draw against Vancouver.

Still, the Red Bulls have won four of their last six, a run which started with a homer victory against FC Cincinnati, and they look overpriced here at [2.64] to beat a team that has lost six of its last seven.

Source: BetFair MLS

    

Serie A Betting: Dall’Ara delight and one final Fiorentina push

Carlo Ancelotti points 1280.jpg

The final day

So here we are again, the final day of what has been another largely predictable Serie A season in terms of the winner, but less predictable lower down, as Bologna and Empoli have launched remarkable escape bids, and Fiorentina and Genoa have both sunk like a stone.

Atalanta have given us the romance, and they stand on the brink of their highest ever Serie A finish, and all that we can hope is that a change of coach at Juventus, as well as a strengthening of those lower down, will give us what we truly crave as Serie A fans: a race for the title. I have a good feeling about next season, but make no mistake, it is not Juve’s fault that this League is one sided, it’s the incompetence below them. Let’s hope that changes.

Bravo to Fabio Quagliarella, Duvan Zapata and Krzysztof Piatek for lighting up the League in terms of goalscoring, to Marten De Roon for being the funniest footballer out there, and to Josip Ilicic, Allan and Quagliarella, who’d be my three players of the season, in no particular order.

As for the column, we’re guaranteed a profit over the season, despite a horror show last week, and let’s hope that we can finish with a bang, although this final day of Serie A is notoriously difficult, and I’m going to try and avoid games with too much riding on them, as events can be affected by what’s going on elsewhere. Thanks for reading, and enjoy your summers. Buona Fortuna.

End of season showboating

Bologna v Napoli
Saturday, 19:30
Live on Premier 2 and Betfair Live Video

We’ll start with Bologna and Napoli, who can do little to change the shape of their seasons, but who I’ll trust to put on a real show for us on this final day.

Sinisa Mihajlovic’s mantra since he took over at Bologna has been to attack, and I think that his team might look to go out with a bang and have a real go at Napoli. That would suit Carlo Ancelotti’s side, and so I think that there will be goals.

Bologna have scored at least three times in their last four games at the Dall’Ara, and while that’s going to be harder in this fixture, there were signs at San Paolo last week that the shackles were off Napoli, and that they’ll happily engage in an open game. They were brilliant at times against Inter, and made you wistfully think of what a title race it could have been.

Napoli have scored at least twice in their last four, and the fact that the reverse fixture finished 3-2 in their favour is another pointer. It’s tempting to get silly on the final day as we push for a profit, and look at Over 5.5 Goals, but sensible has been our mantra all season, and so I’ll punt the Over 3.5 Goals at [2.3].

Udinese can relax

Cagliari v Udinese
Sunday, 19:30
Live on Betfair Live Video

Cagliari’s home form in the second half of the season is what has kept them in Serie A, and they’ve made a habit of beating teams at Udinese’s level, winning six of their last eight in Sardinia, and finding only Juventus and Lazio too good for them.

They look overpriced to beat an Udinese side who are safe (the table might not look that way, but head to heads mean that they are, trust me), and who can count themselves fortunate to remain in Serie A for another season.

Until they won at Frosinone two weeks ago, Udinese had lost eight of their nine away games in 2019, and it’s four goals in two games from reborn Stefano Okaka which have effectively kept them up, with wins against Frosinone and SPAL.

Now that they’ve achieved what they needed to, I think that they’ll struggle at Cagliari, who will play with freedom here and look a little overpriced to come out on top at around the [2.52] mark.

Final Fiorentina flourish

Fiorentina v Genoa
Sunday, 19:30
Live on Betfair Live Video

The only game that matters that I’m happy to engage in is the one in Florence. Both of these teams can still be relegated, but Genoa are the ones who probably need to win, and I think that they’re the team most likely to go down.

La Viola’s season has been a story of mismanagement and of justifiable fan protest, but a point in this at least keeps them safe for another season, and I think that they’ll find the performance that they need to finish the season with a win.

The danger here is that, if Empoli are losing at Inter, and word comes through that this is the case, then a draw suits both of these teams and the game might peter out. I don’t think that things will be that simple for Inter though, and it will become apparent that Genoa have to win this, a result that could potentially send Fiorentina down. It’s a hard situation to manage, which is why I think that Vincenzo Montella will simply go for the win.

La Viola have only one Serie A victory since the end of January, and have lost six of their last seven Serie A games, but they are capable of performing, whereas Genoa have been awful in recent weeks, picking up only three points since they drew against Napoli on April 7.

It might seem unwise to back a team that has faded so badly, but something tells me that Fiorentina’s stars will pull out the stops in this final game, and they’ll consign Genoa to Serie B. They’re big at [2.5], and worth backing.

Source: Betfair Italian

    

Serie A Betting: Inter, and Conte’s, future could rest on final day test of nerve

Make no mistake about it, FC Internazionale shouldn’t be in this position. Some teams would relish the opportunity to go into the final game of a season with Champions League qualification in their own hands. It’s the point at which Inter actually sealed a top four place, in dramatic fashion, last season. They should, however, have sealed this a while back.

Luciano Spalletti and company, then, might well face their final day challenge with more than a modicum of trepidation, even if the sums are simple. If they win on Sunday against lowly Empoli, they’ll go back into the Champions League for the second straight season after six years spent outside it. If they don’t, they leave themselves open to a steal – from city rivals Milan, of all teams.

San Siro slip-ups

Inter, it must be said, have looked healthier. They come into this having won just one of the last five and having missed a clutch of opportunities to make themselves safe in the last month-and-a-half or so, beginning with the home defeat to Lazio at the end of March. That the club from the capital – who they beat to the punch on last season’s final day in what was essentially a Champions League eliminator in Rome, remember – have since faded from the picture makes the loss even more frustrating in retrospect.

It doesn’t necessarily stand alone, though. Spalletti’s team have slipped up on a whole host of occasions at San Siro this season, from the shock early season defeat to promoted Parma to being rolled over by old boy Sinisa Mihajlovic’s Bologna, who looked doomed at the time. In Europe, Inter failed to get the final Champions League group match home win against PSV that would have taken them into the last 16 at eventual finalists Tottenham‘s expense, and then were played off their own pitch by Eintracht Frankfurt on the way out of the Europa League.

Empoli scramble towards great escape

Inter remain favourites to take Sunday’s game at [1.43] but visiting Empoli [8] have propelled themselves to within view of safety with an unprecedented run of three straight wins. The visitors need to win to make sure and have the wind at their backs. Yet while the Tuscan team’s recent resurgence is impressive – and they swept away high-flying Torino with considerable gusto last week – it’s Inter’s foibles that will come under the microscope.

Making the Champions League or not could have real implications for Inter’s future too. Having just got free of their FFP settlement terms with UEFA, the club should be able to build from here, and are widely expected to appoint former Juventus and Chelsea boss Antonio Conte to lead them forward into next season. With Juve yet to name a successor to Massimiliano Allegri, Conte will hope to mount a domestic as well a continental challenge to his old club if he takes charge, having won the title in his first season in Turin as well his during his debut term in the Premier League.

Crucial for future with Conte

There’s just one catch, of course – the Champions League. Not only would missing out on a return to the top table in Europe hurt them in terms of transfer budget (and Spalletti will have to be paid off, having extended his contract to 2021 back in autumn), but it might even give Conte cause for pause, with the Champions League being the main arena in which he has yet to prove himself as a coach.

The stakes are high, then, for Inter this weekend. Nerazzurri fans must simply hope that their home turf jitters are a thing of the past.

Source: Betfair Italian

    

Copa del Rey Final: Valencia no pushovers against stricken Barcelona

Barcelona v Valencia
Saturday, 20:00

Barça looking to salvage some pride

For much of this year, Barcelona had this game earmarked as the penultimate hurdle on the way to a historic treble. With the league wrapped up well ahead of time, it was just a case of marching on in Europe and waiting for back-to-back finals. We all know how that ended, of course, and while Copa del Rey victory would offer some small comfort to a stricken squad, this season is going to placed in the ‘disappointment’ drawer no matter what happens on Saturday.

Barça’s final two league games of the season were fairly joyless: they ground out a scrappy win over Getafe, then drew 2-2 with Eibar. Even the sight of Lionel Messi taking his final league tally to 36 goals didn’t inspire much excitement; the Argentine himself wasn’t especially fussed about celebrating, and he sets the tone for those around him.

Will they raise their chins enough to put on a show in Sevilla? Their hopes have been dented by some late-season injuries – Marc-André ter Stegen has joined Luis Suárez and Ousmane Dembélé on the sidelines – and there remains the feeling that Ernesto Valverde’s future is far from secure, even if club president Josep Maria Bartomeu has backed him in public. In pure footballing terms, they are head and shoulders above Valencia, but the mood music isn’t particularly positive.

Positive vibes at Valencia

Valencia, by contrast, ended their league campaign on a real high. A 2-0 victory away to Real Valladolid was enough to sneak them into fourth, meaning they’ll be in the Champions League again next term. Given how poorly they started this season, that is a major achievement, and testament to the patience shown to coach Marcelino, who could easily have been sacked before a big upturn in form.

This is not a perfect side by any means: the defence was found out by Arsenal over two legs (3-7 on aggregate) and they are probably over-reliant on pass master Dani Parejo for creativity. But there’s no doubting they have the tools to challenge anyone on their day, and fans will be hopeful that the in-form strike pairing of Santi Mina and Rodrigo Moreno can continue their impressive month. That pair have scored six goals between them in Valencia’s last four games.

Barcelona are rated as [1.58] favourites to take this in 90 minutes, which is understandable given Valencia have won just two of the last 29 meetings between the sides. But both league games this season finished level (1-1 at the Mestalla and 2-2 at Camp Nou), and Barça needed Messi to bail them out on both occasions.

Valencia are [6.4], which is tempting, but we prefer to back them with a one-goal start on the Asian handicap at [1.97]. Barcelona have played 29 games away from Camp Nou this term (not including Spanish or Catalan Super Cups) and have only won eight of them by a two goals or more, and with belief flowing through Marcelino’s side, they have a good chance of making this a close game.

Rodrigo Moreno looks like the value pick in the goalscorer market at [4.5]. Barça’s defence is far from impregnable – they conceded four against Villarreal, two against Celta Vigo, four against Liverpool and two against Eibar – and the Spain international has the intelligence to add to his two previous goals against the Blaugrana.

Source: Betfair Spanish La Liga

    

Copa del Rey Final: Valencia no pushovers against stricken Barcelona

Barcelona v Valencia
Saturday, 20:00

Barça looking to salvage some pride

For much of this year, Barcelona had this game earmarked as the penultimate hurdle on the way to a historic treble. With the league wrapped up well ahead of time, it was just a case of marching on in Europe and waiting for back-to-back finals. We all know how that ended, of course, and while Copa del Rey victory would offer some small comfort to a stricken squad, this season is going to placed in the ‘disappointment’ drawer no matter what happens on Saturday.

Barça’s final two league games of the season were fairly joyless: they ground out a scrappy win over Getafe, then drew 2-2 with Eibar. Even the sight of Lionel Messi taking his final league tally to 36 goals didn’t inspire much excitement; the Argentine himself wasn’t especially fussed about celebrating, and he sets the tone for those around him.

Will they raise their chins enough to put on a show in Sevilla? Their hopes have been dented by some late-season injuries – Marc-André ter Stegen has joined Luis Suárez and Ousmane Dembélé on the sidelines – and there remains the feeling that Ernesto Valverde’s future is far from secure, even if club president Josep Maria Bartomeu has backed him in public. In pure footballing terms, they are head and shoulders above Valencia, but the mood music isn’t particularly positive.

Positive vibes at Valencia

Valencia, by contrast, ended their league campaign on a real high. A 2-0 victory away to Real Valladolid was enough to sneak them into fourth, meaning they’ll be in the Champions League again next term. Given how poorly they started this season, that is a major achievement, and testament to the patience shown to coach Marcelino, who could easily have been sacked before a big upturn in form.

This is not a perfect side by any means: the defence was found out by Arsenal over two legs (3-7 on aggregate) and they are probably over-reliant on pass master Dani Parejo for creativity. But there’s no doubting they have the tools to challenge anyone on their day, and fans will be hopeful that the in-form strike pairing of Santi Mina and Rodrigo Moreno can continue their impressive month. That pair have scored six goals between them in Valencia’s last four games.

Barcelona are rated as [1.58] favourites to take this in 90 minutes, which is understandable given Valencia have won just two of the last 29 meetings between the sides. But both league games this season finished level (1-1 at the Mestalla and 2-2 at Camp Nou), and Barça needed Messi to bail them out on both occasions.

Valencia are [6.4], which is tempting, but we prefer to back them with a one-goal start on the Asian handicap at [1.97]. Barcelona have played 29 games away from Camp Nou this term (not including Spanish or Catalan Super Cups) and have only won eight of them by a two goals or more, and with belief flowing through Marcelino’s side, they have a good chance of making this a close game.

Rodrigo Moreno looks like the value pick in the goalscorer market at [4.5]. Barça’s defence is far from impregnable – they conceded four against Villarreal, two against Celta Vigo, four against Liverpool and two against Eibar – and the Spain international has the intelligence to add to his two previous goals against the Blaugrana.

Source: BetFair Tips