The Week Ahead: Five ‘must have’ bets in the coming days

1. Champions League Football
Back Barcelona @ [1.77] to beat Bayern Munich
Wednesday, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports 1

When Bayern hammered Barcelona 7-0 over the two legs of the 2013 Champions League semi-finals, many pundits described it as the ‘death of tiki-taka’ and a seismic shift in European football, with Germany usurping Spain at the top of the tree.

But two years on and the situation is somewhat different despite Pep Guardiola switching dugouts. Barcelona are in superb form – it’s 17 wins in 19 league games now – and have beaten the likes of Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Manchester City and PSG at Camp Nou since Christmas. The superstar front three of Messi, Neymar and Suarez have been simply unstoppable.

Bayern, meanwhile, are missing key players, including talisman Arjen Robben, and have lost three of their last six games including a resounding 3-1 defeat to Porto in their last Champions League away trip.

It’s rare you’ll see Barca as big as [1.77] on home turf so snap it up. DT

2. Horse Racing – Chester
Back Hans Holbein @ [3.5] to win Chester Vase
Thursday, 15:10
Live on Channel 4 & RUK

Any horse that Aidan O’Brien sends to Chester merits the utmost respect because of his excellent success rate at the Chesire venue, and in this race in particular he has an outstanding record. O’Brien has won five of the last eight renewals of the Chester Vase, and the O’Brien/Ryan Moore trainer/jockey combination has won three of the last four renewals.

That same combination is responsible for Hans Holbein on Thursday, a lightly raced Montjeu colt who will enjoy the softer underfoot conditions.

Hans Holbein showed improved form to win a soft ground 10 furlong Maiden at Leopardstown three weeks ago and should relish this step up to a mile and a half. The opposition doesn’t look particularly strong, winning just four races between them from their combined 22 starts, so with just a bit more improvement from the Ballydoyle runner this Group 3 contest yet again looks at the mercy of O’Brien and Moore. MN

3. Golf – The Players Championship
Back Henrik Stenson @ [3.1] Top 10 Finish

Thursday – Sunday
Live on Sky Sports 4

Dave Tindall makes Henrik Stenson his main pick to win the Players Championship and his selection receives a ringing endorsement from the PGA Tour’s own stats analysis, the Swede ranking far ahead of the field in this blend of driving accuracy, greens-in-reg and strokes gained putting.

That, of course, is the ideal skillset for Sawgrass, a course on which he was victorious in 2009. Given Stenson has four top-fives from six strokeplay events on the PGA Tour this season, anything in excess of 2/1 on a Top 10 Finish looks a fair price. JD

4. Premier League Darts
Back Raymond van Barneveld @ [2.4] to beat James Wade
Thursday, 19:10
Live on Sky Sports 1

The Premier League’s hottest player, in fact the hottest darts players on the planet right now, takes on the league’s most out-of-form player, and he’s not odds-on to win. Let’s take advantage because Barney at [2.4] looks huge to me.

It’s no fluke that the Dutchman is finding his form at the right time either, as he did exactly the same last year on route to becoming the Premier League champion. Barney is quite simply in irresistible form – in his last five matches he has defeated Phil Taylor, Michael van Gerwen, Dave Chisnall, Adrian Lewis, and current World Champion Gary Anderson. It doesn’t get any better than that.

His opponent on Thursday night is James Wade, a player that now sits bottom of the table following six matches without a win. He was thrashed 7-1 by Chizzy last month before losing 7-0 to Van Gerwen. The Machine is going through the motions right now and just wants the league to end. He should present few problems for a fully focused and motivated Van Barneveld. MN

5. Premier League Football
Back Under 1.5 Goals @ [3.0] in Hull v Burnley
Saturday, 15:00

Neither of these teams have really got to grips with scoring goals in football matches this season, especially Burnley who find themselves bottom of the table largely due to having netted once in their last nine games. To be fair to Sean Dyche’s side, they haven’t conceded that many of late, but when you’re scoring literally no goals at all, it only takes one to condemn you to a defeat.

Hull don’t get many either, but they’ll be earmarking this as a must-win in their bid to stave off relegation and the more we look at this game the more it looks like the archetypal ‘one goal will decide it’ affair – for that reason [3.0] around there being one goal or fewer looks an absolute steal. LM