As is often the case with vital services during challenging times of the year, the Goalscorer Gamble will be operating a reduced offering this weekend.
When the football season is in full swing we normally make five selections, but due to a scarcity of major televised matches we’ll be picking just four. The advantage of this could be the fact that while I’ve never successfully tipped all five scorers correctly, four have come in on a number of occasions. Will we be basking in the glow of a 100% success rate come Sunday evening?
Almost certainly not, but we’ll soldier on anyway. We start with the rather important match between Juventus and Barcelona in the Champions League final.
As you’d expect, much of the pre-match talk is focusing on Barcelona’s sensational front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez. All are available at juicy prices to find the net.
Messi is the tournament’s joint top scorer (10) this season and the joint top Champions League scorer of all time (77), so the [2.08] on offer represents great value. So too does the price of [2.82] for Neymar to score, with the Brazilian having scored nine goals in the competition this season. Suarez is just behind him at [2.84].
Yet Juventus are not without a threat. Carlos Tevez has notched an impressive seven goals in a far less free-scoring side and can be backed at a massive [4.4]. With Barcelona having conceded in three of their last five games, it’s a risk we’re taking ahead of the more obvious choices.
Next we move to Sunday’s international friendlies for France’s intriguing match with Belgium. While Belgium’s crop of impressive young players has been a talking point for some seasons, it is the French that are now bringing through a potentially stronger set of young talent.
The French squad for the matches against Belgium and Albania includes the likes of Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane, Juve’s Paul Pogba, Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann and Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette.
Lacazette has just enjoyed his breakthrough season at club level, scoring 31 goals in 38 games. He also got off the mark for France in their last match against Denmark and looks likely to be their main attacking threat as we approach the European Championships. Let’s back him at [7.0] to open the scoring.
England are also in action tomorrow when they take on the Republic of Ireland. With the likes of Harry Kane, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck all out of the squad, it looks like Wayne Rooney will be carrying the burden of expectation.
With 47 international goals in 103 games for his country, it’s not likely to prove a problem. Rooney is honing in on Bobby Charlton’s record of 49 goals for England and it’s surprising how little is being made of the fact considering that a brace would see him draw level.
Certainly his price to score indicates that the focus is not as much on Rooney as you’d expect. He trades at a higher price than the debutant Charlie Austin which is frankly a bit weird. Take advantage at [2.52].
Finally we conclude with Brazil’s match with Mexico. Since suffering humiliation at the World Cup, Brazil have won all eight of their games, beating the likes of Argentina, France and Chile in the process.
Brazil will be without Neymar for the match which gives an opportunity for others to shine. That man could be the Hoffenheim star Roberto Firmino, who has scored two goals in Brazil’s last three games.
Firmino has not enjoyed the most prolific season for Hoffenhiem, scoring ten goals this season, though this could be due to the constant speculation regarding his future. In 2013-14 he scored a more impressive 22 in 37 games and he looks a decent shout at a likely [6.5] to score the first goal.
Best Bet: Back Tevez to score at [4.4]
Back Lacazette to score first at [7.0]
Back Rooney to score at [2.52]
Back Firmino to score first at [6.5]